air drying black walnut

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Forum topic by botietruck posted 07-20-2010 03:38 AM 18941 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View botietruck's profile


25 posts in 3152 days

07-20-2010 03:38 AM

I picked up (free) several large pieces of black walnut a couple week ago that had just been cut down. These were limbs that ranged from 8” – 17” in diameter, 2 1/2’ – 8’ long. I took them to a local fellow with a mill and he cut them in to mostly 1” thick boards, with some 2” – 3” thick pieces. Some were too short dog down. Those will be used for turning. I now have them stickered in my enclosed, insulated garage, with a dehumidiifier running 24/7. According to his calculations, I should have about 200 board feet of walnut, give or take a few. I plan on coating the ends of the boards this weekend. Any advise on what else I should be doing? Is the dehumidifier a good thing , or no? Should I be running a small fan on the wood? Since I stacked the wood in the garage, I noticed a light film of rust on a couple tools. I took care of that quickly and applied a heavy coat of wax to the metal surfaces.
Thanks in advance for any advice!

-- Bob from Virginia

11 replies so far

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3838 days

#1 posted 07-20-2010 12:24 PM

You coat the ends of logs to keep them from drying out too quickly…causing checking. Once sawn there would be no point in coating the ends of the boards. Coat the ends of the cants you didn’t get sawn up.

A fan would decrease the drying time somewhat. Dehumidifier is good. After a week or so you probably wouldn’t need the dehumidifer. The largest portion of moisture should be out by then.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View charlie48's profile


248 posts in 3193 days

#2 posted 07-20-2010 12:51 PM

Bob, Nice haul !! and free WOW what a find.I’m in the process of having some red oak, Ash, and Maple sawn up,so I’m learning as I go,so this post is helping me and maybe many other LJ’s Thanks and good luck.
Catspaw, I was told by my sawer to paint the ends of my boards with oil base paint , now I’m confused.

-- Charlie............Only time will tell if it was time well spent.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3916 days

#3 posted 07-20-2010 02:01 PM

if you dont saw them up, they will check beyond repair as they are short. Paint, wax, seal the ends even if they are cut up as this will help with checking and splitting.

Take the sawn boards and sticker them. Using 3/4” x 3/4” sticks placed perpendicular to the boards between each layer for moisture to evaporate evenly around all surfaces. To air dry lumber allow for 1 year per inch of thickness, plus a year so that a 1” thick board takes 2 years, a 2” board takes 3 years etc.,

It looks like you have limbs and often this lumber turns out to be quite angry, tough to tame and even after drying they tend to bend and twists after cutting them into parts

Good luck

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View tnwood's profile


259 posts in 3110 days

#4 posted 07-20-2010 05:09 PM

Wood from branches tends to have a lot of internal stress due to the fact it grows horizontally. I would make sure that the wood is stickered and weighted down with very heavy blocks of some type. It must also be end sealed. I would not try to hurry the process as you will get more movement and checking that way.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2981 days

#5 posted 07-20-2010 11:06 PM

Since wood dries thru the end grain at a much, much faster rate than thru the long grain it is imperative to seal the end grain asap. It doesn’t matter if it is sliced up. “Moron” above has the best advice. Hopefully the wood will stay straight, it mostly depends on how horizontally they were growing. The more vertical, the better. I would turn off the dehumidifier until the ends were coated, then a fan would be nice; you may have a mold problem unless you use larger stickers, I use 1” minimum but have found better luck with 1 1/2” for wetter wood.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View jcsterling's profile


462 posts in 3608 days

#6 posted 07-21-2010 03:44 AM

I have found that walnut to be one of the easiest woods to air dry. As mentioned earlier, allow to air dry for approx 1 year per i nch of thickness, coat the ends, sticker, weight and wait. Limb wood will be a bit more reactionary but not insurmountable. hope you had some flitch sawn.

-- John , Central PA , on facebook:!/pages/JC-Sterling-fine-furniture/104430802928776

View douglbe's profile


369 posts in 3984 days

#7 posted 07-21-2010 04:00 AM

If you can get air to them, such as a fan, it will probably air dry to 12-14% MC in a 2-4 months. I have some Black Walnut that was logged and lumbered to 1” thick in April, that had been stickered and in my shed. I put some in my solar kiln a little over a week ago and it was already at 14% (this is in the center of the board), so it is air drying fast. It only took a week in the kiln to get to 6.5%.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View botietruck's profile


25 posts in 3152 days

#8 posted 07-22-2010 02:50 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I will put the fan on it this weekend and watch it closely. I did have the sawyer to saw several pieces of flitch. But I must admit, I did not know what flitch was until yesterday after jcsterling mentioned it. I had to Google it. It is amazing what you can learn from Lumberjocks…and Google!

-- Bob from Virginia

View Sawmillnc's profile


150 posts in 3077 days

#9 posted 07-22-2010 05:13 AM

Limbs are pretty much worthless as lumber with all the stress wood. End coating is only effective within a few days as checking once started will not be curtailed by anchor seal.

This time of the year 4/4 boards will dry to 12-15% within 60 days. 8/4 stock 120-160 days. At that point it can be kiln dried in 6-10 days to 6-7% depending upon thickness.

The stickers should be 1” thick and spaced 14-18 inches a part.

The wives tail that it takes a year to dry per inch needs to be forgotten it is false.

-- Kyle Edwards,, Iron Station , NC (near Charlotte)

View sw_iowa_sawyer's profile


39 posts in 3400 days

#10 posted 07-22-2010 10:27 PM

Walnut is real easy to dry so that will make it easier. I cut a fair amount of walnut since I live in walnut country, a fan blowing on it will help keep mold from forming. I would coat the ends as it will help some on the end checks. I use Anchorseal but despite what folks claim it will still check some that is why when you saw logs for lumber they cut logs 8’6” so you can account for checks and defects. That will usually catch most of the checking. The limb wood thing is dependent on the limb. If the pith is centered in the log/branch they behave pretty well if not then they can sometimes act up. I won’t say which sticker thickness is best I use 3/4 hardwood stickers for my stuff and haven’t had any trouble yet but 1” would work as well. It really isn’t rocket science and walnut is very forgiving for first timers, (harder on basswood or maple or white oak) so stack it and you will be well on your way to using your own lumber.

View TreeBones's profile


1827 posts in 4046 days

#11 posted 09-29-2010 04:28 PM

I’m a little late on this post but there is a lot of good information here. I like to cut 3” and thicker . My experience is 1” boards tend to be more unstable during drying. I will re mill into thinner stock after most of the drying is done. I cut a lot of burl from trees that have been grafted,

Here is some info on drying: Air Drying

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

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