Buying Black Walnut

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Forum topic by newwoodbutcher posted 08-30-2010 02:29 AM 3061 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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425 posts in 1853 days

08-30-2010 02:29 AM

I am vacationing in Eastern Iowa from Southern California and thinking I may be able to get a good deal on black walnut if I can buy from a local sawer in the area. There are lots of walnut trees in this area so I’m going shoping tomorrow. Heard about a place called Big Timber from a friend. Any one have any expereince with them? Any other recomendations in the area? I’m thinking about 200 board feet. Also any recomendations on what a great price would be

-- Ken

7 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2077 days

#1 posted 08-30-2010 03:51 AM

Langhoff’s is a real “down home” supplier of lumber, including walnut. They are located in the Marion/Cedar Rapids area. From the intersection of Highway 13 and County Home Road (northeast of Marion) take County Home road west 1 mile and then turn north for about 2 miles.

You will find nothing on the internet about them. They are a real local supplier. You’ll find an old man there who likes to talk and talk and talk. Pricing is very reasonable.

Also, Wieland and Sons is a bigger, more conventional lumber mill with great products at reasonable prices. You can check them out at

I just bought 870 bf of 6/4 oak from them.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2077 days

#2 posted 08-30-2010 03:56 AM

I forgot to mention Hills Hardwoods in Iowa City. They offer good domestic lumber and an assortment of exotics.

Prices for their domestic lumber is a little bit higher than Wielands, but I think their exotics are reasonably priced.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Toolz's profile


1003 posts in 2745 days

#3 posted 08-30-2010 01:30 PM

I used to buy a lot of carving stock from Johnson’s Wood Products located in Strawberry Point, Iowa. They sell lumber and carving and turning stock. I lived in FL and would call him and tell him what I was going to do and they would send me a selection that was out of this world. Great woods and good pricing. I think they now have a web site. You might want to give them a look also.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

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4541 posts in 2077 days

#4 posted 08-30-2010 06:39 PM

Let me comment on Johnson’s Wood Products. They are not a conventional retail store. They are located on a gravel road quite a ways from the nearest pavement. They have wood stored in their out buildings. They “sort of” maintain business hours, but it is a good idea to call them before you go to be certain that someone will be there. They will also get out some material for you to view if you tell them what you are looking for.

Their original business was wood blanks for gun stocks. Now they are selling a lot of turning blanks. THey have had in the past some absolutely great oak burls. They also offer a good collection of exotics. Very reasonable prices.

I don’t think they accept credit cards and they might be concerned about an out-of-state check. They really like cash.

It is a neat place to visit.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View saw4fun's profile


149 posts in 2342 days

#5 posted 08-30-2010 08:27 PM

If you are looking at 4/4 kiln-dried walnut $3-$5/bdft should get you some pretty nice material, especially if you can purchase it rough-cut and plane it yourself.

-- There is no such thing as scrap wood! Rastus NE

View newwoodbutcher's profile


425 posts in 1853 days

#6 posted 08-31-2010 02:18 AM

Thank you all so much for your quick response and great advice to my inquiry. I have had a great day today driving around Iowa visiting Saw mills. I met some very friendly and helpful people. Turns out that this area of Iowa is the walnut epicenter of the world (at least that’s what they all say). I went to Big Timber(319 472 5213) and was blown away. This is a major organization that ships walnut around the world, I can’t be certain but I think he said they cut eight million board feet a year. Mike spent over an hour with my wife, my brother in-law and I and was extraordinarily thoughtful and helpful. He walked us around his whole operation, showed us a lot of product and gave me a great education. Before I left the house on the shopping trip, I checked with my local providers in Southern California, the prices for Black Walnut went from $7.11 to $8.50 a bf. What I’m getting from Big Timber is 200 bf from a flitch of about 300bf for $6.50 a bf including the shipping cost to Southern California. And, it’s a great looking flitch, kiln dried, not steamed. Mike said he would go through the filch for me and pick the best pieces for my order, and would be happy to sell the rest of it a piece at a time to anyone interested. While I haven’t taken delivery yet, I think Big Timber is a great find. Good prices, great personal service and high quality materials. I’m sure I will be buying a lot more wood from them. I also went to Johnson’s Wood Products (563 880 1896). Randy works out of an old barn and has some of the most amazing wood I’ve ever seen! He specializes in Walnut gun stock and turning blanks and the stuff is incredibly beautiful and unusual! He also spent a good amount of time showing us around and even called around to his contacts trying to help me. I don’t do turning or gunstocks but if you are ever looking for something very special Randy is a must check guy.

I also went to Wieland and Sons (319 935 3936). They had the lowest prices of anywhere I checked but they steam all their walnut which makes it look to my eye more like a commodity product, not as rich or deep as un steamed although there is definitely less sapwood as a result. They are more of a traditional lumber yard. And they do a lot of business internationally on a very large scale. They never asked if I wanted flat, quarter or rift sawn and I left after just a few minutes. I ran out of time before I could check out the other recommendations although my brother in law said he will check them all out as soon as he can.
Thank you all again! LumberJocks is a great organization, responsive, informed and very helpful.

-- Ken

View Tom Coster's profile

Tom Coster

120 posts in 1841 days

#7 posted 09-15-2010 07:51 PM

Man, am I jealous. I’m on the coast in South Carolina. Hard to find local hardwood around here. I just pick up a piece of 4/4×8” x 10’, rough plained black walnut for $6.89 a board foot. I was buying a little cypress #2, 4/4×6” for 68 cents a board foot.

-- Tom, MI, SC

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