First Walnut Felling - Worth getting a portable mill or use the chainsaw?

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Forum topic by IanB22 posted 04-26-2013 05:18 PM 2254 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 1983 days

04-26-2013 05:18 PM

Just wondering if a yard walnut such as this one is worth trying to find a local sawmill to cut it up into board feet? I only know one saw mill but he is not near this log (80 miles away?) so I am thinking it would be hard to talk him into making the trip. Also, trading board feet for the mill-work is probably unlikely.

Open to idea’s? What would you do? Black portion is probably 15-18” and I can see quite a few crotch pieces in the log from previous branches that were taken off the tree from years past.

Also, this thing came down EXACTLY where I wanted it too, and it was the largest most precision felling I have done to date. Largest try before this was only a 18 ish inch maple. Who knew I had the skills to bring this thing down right in the yard and barely even touched the 10+ year old fence next to it.


18 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2992 days

#1 posted 04-26-2013 06:14 PM

Most sawmills will not touch a “yard tree”. At least none of them I know of.
There is too much chance of hitting a nail.
One ruined blade would offset any profit they could have made.

View IanB22's profile


14 posts in 1983 days

#2 posted 04-26-2013 07:04 PM

Yeah, I am thinking the same thing. Yard tree’s are just very unpredictable. Might as well ruin my own blades and chain on this thing, it’s fun making your own lumber anyway.

Hopefully some nice crotch comes out of the middle of this tree.

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3339 days

#3 posted 04-26-2013 07:09 PM

I would have it milled. If the sawmiller charges for a ruined blade, I’d pay it as long as I knew the amount in advance. The sawmiller I have used has a $50 charge, I believe it is, if the blade hits metal.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View richardwootton's profile


1699 posts in 1977 days

#4 posted 04-26-2013 07:36 PM

Whatever way you decide to go, that’s a sweet log that I wish I had!

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2019 days

#5 posted 04-26-2013 07:47 PM

My blades cost $20-$25 depending on where I buy them. Bandsaw blades have a finite life span, on a tree like that I would use a blade that had been sharpened a few times. That butt log will be a lot of whittling with a chainsaw unless you have a pretty big one. Check with woodmizer I think they keep a list of people who have bought a mill and are willing to do custom. That log is not so big that one of the smaller manual mills could not handle it.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29376 posts in 2360 days

#6 posted 04-26-2013 10:35 PM

Have it sawed. Too awesome not to.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View AandCstyle's profile


3068 posts in 2279 days

#7 posted 04-26-2013 11:25 PM

By all means, try to get it milled. Woodmizer is a good suggestion. It is black walnut and with the spread of thousand canker disease, who knows how much longer we will have that species available.

-- Art

View WDHLT15's profile


1747 posts in 2498 days

#8 posted 04-27-2013 12:48 AM

A blade for most portable bandsaws like a woodmizer costs right at $25 like sprucegum says. I was sawing a big oak log for a guy today. The oak came from a neighbors yard. He said that there was no metal in it. I hit metal three times and ruined three blades. That added $75 to the bill.

If you ruined three blades sawing that walnut, it would still be worth it as long as you removed all the metal from the boards. Planers, jointers, and tablesaws do not like metal, either.

There some immutable truths in the Universe.

What goes up must come down (gravity).
All things tend toward disorder (2nd Law of Thermodynamics)
E=MC squared
All yard trees have metal in them.

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

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1983 days

#9 posted 04-27-2013 01:17 AM

I bet if you put a listing in your local Craigslist you’d find someone near you with a portable mill.

View bannerpond1's profile


397 posts in 1920 days

#10 posted 04-27-2013 03:42 AM

Definitely have it milled. It’s too valuable to lose so much in a chain saw kerf. Even if you have to pay for a blade, you’re still going to be way ahead. I generally have $1 a BF when pay a neighbor with a portable WoodMizer to bring it to my place and saw. He and I have been quartersawing everything we do. The quartersawn cherry is fantastic and doesn’t cup, twist, or bow. I have a cherry tree that’s over 30 inches at the base and doesn’t have a branch until 20 feet in the air. It’s dying, so it’s coming down this Spring. I wouldn’t think of a chain saw on such fine wood. You’ll be glad you did when you start using that fragrant walnut.

Here’s how to quarter saw the logs with a portable bandsaw. Do the cuts in order and you’ll have mostly QS wood with four rift sawn 3×3’s or 4×4’s to use for table legs. I found this diagram on line and have sawn several logs with this method. It’s great.

Cut the first number 1 cut and set the “half moon” aside. Then cut the three to five cuts with the pith in the center board. The number you get will depend on log diameter and thickness of cut. You will now have two “half moons.” Put the two of them face to face and stand them on the saw table so you can cut the number 2 cuts, which are more QS boards. When that’s done, cut the number 3’s for square, rift sawn timbers, table legs, or beams. You can use what’s left for stickers when you stack it for drying, or use it for kindling. I do both. I’ve sawn sassafras, cherry, maple and poplar this way and will never flat saw another log.

BTW, I have been cutting everything to 5/4 so I can have a true one inch board after planing. If the saw is tensioned correctly, you will get a flat cut. If not, you’ll get waves in the face of the board. Having it cut to 5/4 gives you some slop for planing.

-- --Dale Page

View RogerM's profile


792 posts in 2421 days

#11 posted 04-27-2013 03:15 PM

Examine the cross section of the cut log. Metal spikes, nails, etc. will exhibit a black stain on the cross section where there is metal in the log. You can then trace this up the log to find the metal either by metal detectors, magnets, or axes and chisels. The mill where I buy a lot of lumber uses this method frequently. Based on the photo you posted it appears to be metal free to me.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1890 days

#12 posted 04-27-2013 03:23 PM

A dream of mine is to own a mill and a piece of land with various species of mature hardwoods and softwoods. Agree on the quarter sawing recommendation. Regardless of lost width on certain pieces. I have much to learn before delving into such an endeavor, but I’m getting started. I hope you can manage to turn this tree into fine lumber, then into precious family heirlooms.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2019 days

#13 posted 04-27-2013 05:31 PM

Buckethead I can make your dream come true I have just what you are looking for and everything I have is for sale except my dog LOL

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3325 days

#14 posted 04-27-2013 07:26 PM

In an earlier post on this forum the writer proposed that in terms of value derived (Proceeds – Expenses = value derived) the through and through method cutting 4/4 boards gives a higher yield than other methods of trying to get quarter sawn only. Like Bannerpond above take the three-five full slabs first, cut the remaining upper and lower section vertically to the first cut. You will get 3-5 quarter and rift in each. Then the critical point is having the edger cut for grade, this will give you much more, higher grade pieces. The writer suggests the edger and headsawyer really need to know the grade book. For my part, (I buy mostly small lots of good quality wood a very low prices) I try to get the thickest boards—nothing is more forgiving than an extra trip through the planer to improve board quality. Watch for sawing error – and defects. I now remove as many defects as possible before I stack it. (I only air dry—and cut for the greatest amount of rift and QS—both have much less movement across the grain.) Might try to invite the sawyer to cut in your back yard—it attracts some good helpers – ?? and keep your nose in the process. 8/4 to resaw on your own bandsaw when the MC is 20% or less. Sticker it well with the best material indoors. I process so-so boards first, make lots of odd ball cuts for carving chunks. Keep all slab and defect wood cut for the wood stove. The process works out OK financially if you are donating your time. If you must pay others—just buy the project wood directly. I still haven’t wised up. We had 40” of snow in April and I have worked too much to find the fun in all of this. The pic of the tree looks great—I’d try to get some very large slabs for tables, bars and fine projects. Good luck. Steve, On Wisconsin.

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View IanB22's profile


14 posts in 1983 days

#15 posted 05-01-2013 12:28 PM

Some really great advice here. I am taking it all in, and will keep the thread updated with progress. I am considering cutting a bit more off the but of the log to apply some anchor seal, and the best most valuable piece of the wood off to the side in the guys lot. I want to get it milled, but it’s going to be expensive.

for the other pieces, I need to go the chainsaw and my 16” band saw route. It can only re-saw up to 8” and when sawing some 8” wet red-oak it BARELY can get through it. So I am hoping to test out some smaller pieces of the walnut, and see how it comes out.

Anyway, excited to have such great stock ready to process and work on. So far the shed has the following:

1 sawed up 9” holly tree (15 ft trunk)
1 good hunk sawed up of spalted maple
6 good sawed up 5’ sections of red oak
(upcomming X bdft of walnut)

At some point I will make something with this stuff!

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