Beautiful Walnut Tree - Need Help!

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Forum topic by IVIattEndureFort posted 06-26-2012 09:33 PM 1825 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1594 days

06-26-2012 09:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut milling

Hey there,

This is my first time posting, I am an amateur woodworker in Southwestern Ontario. I just bought a house with a massive Black Walnut overshadowing the house. Some idiot has girdled the tree and it is starting to die. Instead of trying to keep the tree alive I figured the best option was is to take it down. The neighbor’s car has a bunch of unsightly dents in the hood and the roof would be better off as well.

As you can see from the pictures this tree would produce a log of about 30’ with an avaerave diameter of 30”. Thats a lot of bdft of lumber; I am looking forward to using at least some of it to refinish the kitchen etc. I know a big problem is going to be metal in the tree, but I work for ECHO Power Equipment and could easily fit a chainsaw mill for the worst areas. There is a mill nice and close, but what I am worried about is drying the lumber.

I know that air drying walnut does a good job of bringing out that rich purple colour we all love but I want to know where I should store it; inside or outside. How should I cut it and stack it so I get the least amount of checking and warp. Is it best to saw the log into 4”x8” pcs until it is dry or to the approximate sizes you want beforehand?

Any help you can provide would be great.


3 replies so far

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 2601 days

#1 posted 06-26-2012 09:51 PM

What a beautiful old tree. It’s a shame you have to take it down. My thought would be unless you have the tools to rough mill the wood I’d take it to a saw mill and have some of it cut into manageable sizes and then I would sticker the boards / slabs so there is adequate airflow around each board. The limbs will produce some very nice turning stock so I wouldn’t get rid of or burn those. If you don’t turn you could sell some of them and help offset the cost of milling. I can think of thousands of things to make with this beautiful wood. Good luck!

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 1683 days

#2 posted 06-26-2012 10:08 PM

Rich purple color? Hmm… new to me.

Okay, so, let’s address some things first. If you plan on maximizing wood (and your back), I’d suggest getting a mill to cut the wood if possible. A chainsaw mill is going to waste a lot of wood (I have a chainsaw mill).

How you cut it is up to you really. It depends on what types of wood you want to produce. I’d suggest quarter sawing it (you should look that up on Google if you don’t know what I mean or look below).

For drying the wood, you’ll want to store it where ever is convenient for you. Here’s what it needs though (I’m in a rush so this is just a quick reference):

1. Sticker and stack it (this means put roughly 1” spacers every 12-24” inches between each piece of lumber). Look this up as well. It’s easier to find a picture to get the idea of what to do. Like this:

This will help with airflow. If it’s inside, move it at least 2-3 feet away from the walls. Also, it should at least be 1’ off the ground. If it’s outside, I’d push that to about 18” off the ground.

2. Get a roof over the wood. You don’t want the sun beating down on it. It’ll dry too fast.

3. Make sure there is adequate airflow across the pile. Too much airflow and it’ll dry too fast as well.

4. Don’t allow moisture to get on the wood.

5. For the last couple of months of drying, move the pieces inside an air conditioned space.

Hope that helps. I’m probably leaving some things off though.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View WDHLT15's profile


1562 posts in 1895 days

#3 posted 06-27-2012 02:32 AM

Walnut is one of the easiest woods to dry. Your sticker stack has to outside under some type of roof that is open on the sides. You cannot stack it inside of a building. The stack has to have good air flow. Stickers should be placed at 24” spacing maximum. 18” to 20” between stickers would be better. The stack foundation must be level if you want straight lumber. Use stickers that are 3/4’ to 1” thick and no wider than 1 1/2”. 1” x 1” is good. The stack width must be 5 feet wide or less. 4 feet is perfect. Here is a pic of some of my stickered red oak under my drying shed. Note that the stickers should align with cross-members on the foundation, and keep the stickers centered over the cross-member as you add layers. The foundation should be such that the first layer of lumber will be about 10 – 12” from the ground. Good air drying is all about good foundation prep, good stickering, and good air flow. In each layer, the boards can be butted up tight against each other (you do not need to leave gaps between the boards in the same layer).

By all means, cut the boards to the thickness that you will use. Thick lumber drys slow and is prone to splitting and cracking. Sawing thick beams with the intent to re-saw later is a bad idea. Anyway, you can do this and Good Luck! It will be an adventure. I have about 8,000 BF on sticks right now!

Walnut is not usually quartersawn, but you can have it sawn any way that you like.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

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