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How to mill Walnut


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#1 Kevin Miller

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 11:49 AM

I've got a walnut tree, shown below, and I'm wondering if anybody has any suggestions as to how to mill it. The only project I have in mind is a large trestle table which will likely use mostly 8/4 material. I don't have a plan yet so I'm not sure. The main trunk is 24" diameter at the base and approx. 31 feet long, and it's not perfectly straight. I will be helping with the milling so I can have it cut however I want. Any suggestions on thicknesses, lengths, or sawing methods?

This tree came from my own property so I'm excited to able to use it. It was blown over in a storm a couple years ago. It actually fell across a creek, but was suspended above the water so there is no rotting. There are several more standing, and at least one is even larger and straighter than this one. :)

Thanks,
Kevin

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#2 duckkisser

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:39 PM

a old wood worker that i have spent some time with told me that walnut needs to season for a long time especialy if you are making think boards. he lets his wallnut dry almost twice as long as a normal board 1inch = 1 year is general average.

#3 Keggers

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:43 PM

Hello Kevin,

I'd suggest cutting them in 8 to 10 foot lengths. After you cut the log to the preferred lengths, you should seal all ends of the log with something like Anchorseal. This helps to prevent fast and uneven drying which reduces the amount of checking you'll have in your boards. Be sure to seal the logs BEFORE you cut them as it would be a pain to coat each individual board later.

The bottom of the tree is called the butt and you'll get the best quality wood from there. As you go up the tree you'll run into more knots.

With that said, only you can decided what thicknesses you are going to need. Just keep in mind that it's easier to make a thin board from a thick one than it is to take two thin boards to make a thick one.

#4 Beechwood Chip

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:55 PM

With that said, only you can decided what thicknesses you are going to need. Just keep in mind that it's easier to make a thin board from a thick one than it is to take two thin boards to make a thick one.

And it takes less time to dry a thin board than a thick one. If you have a kiln, then maybe you go thicker than if you are air drying.

#5 Keggers

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 02:35 PM

And it takes less time to dry a thin board than a thick one. If you have a kiln, then maybe you go thicker than if you are air drying.


Of course it takes more time to dry a thicker board than a thinner one. But if the man is needing 8/4 walnut, it doesn't make much sense to cut it all 4/4 just so it can dry faster. I didn't read that there was any particular time frame involved. Perhaps he needs to cut both 8/4 and 4/4 keeping in mind that the 8/4 will take approximately twice as long to dry.

#6 Particle Board

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 02:57 PM

If it were mine I would divide the log into 8' 4" chuncks, flat saw it all to 8/4 leave live edge,
number it and get it stickered and stacked before the weather turns for the year.

Don

#7 Southwood

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 04:11 AM

I had a mill here last Friday, for the first time. Not knowing what really to do, I ask the sawyer. He knows this stuff better than I do. He helped me a lot. All I really knew was I wanted it all 4/4.

#8 duckkisser

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 04:28 AM

my sugestion is if you are new to this kind of wood working decide what you want ot make and ask the sawer they usualy are wood workers or know enough that they can point you in the right direction.

#9 Kevin Miller

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 04:42 AM

Thanks a lot for all the input. I will be asking the sawyer (my wife's uncle) what he suggests. He has sawn a lot of lumber, but I'm not sure how much he's done for furniture. He is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to timber.

I will likely be air drying the lumber. I don't know anyone personally who has a dry kiln near me. It will probably be at least a couple years before I use the lumber. Otherwise, I'll find a dry kiln.

If it were mine I would divide the log into 8' 4" chuncks, flat saw it all to 8/4 leave live edge,
number it and get it stickered and stacked before the weather turns for the year.

Don

What is the reasoning behind the 8'4" length? I'm not disagreeing, but would like to know. I think the bends in the log will mostly determine the lengths I end up with.

Thanks,
Kevin

#10 Particle Board

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 06:42 AM

Thanks a lot for all the input. I will be asking the sawyer (my wife's uncle) what he suggests. He has sawn a lot of lumber, but I'm not sure how much he's done for furniture. He is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to timber.

I will likely be air drying the lumber. I don't know anyone personally who has a dry kiln near me. It will probably be at least a couple years before I use the lumber. Otherwise, I'll find a dry kiln.


What is the reasoning behind the 8'4" length? I'm not disagreeing, but would like to know. I think the bends in the log will mostly determine the lengths I end up with.

Thanks,
Kevin


So that you end up with actual 8' dimensional lumber when its all done. Your going to loose the ends to small splits and the unsquare chainsaw cut irregardless. To long they will twist and get some really funky movement as they dry. Besides the twist that will occur naturally when you resaw long dry 8/4 stock. To short and you have just that many boards that you will loose the ends on, meaning more wasted lumber. 8' is just a good medium and has always worked well with all the urban trees I buy.

Don

#11 TimV

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 08:16 AM

Personally, I try to read the log. I crosscut the log where ever I need to try and avoid the curve. If I end up with one that is 6' and another that is 10' so be it. I use a chainsaw mill and I hate having to deal with a bend starting out. There ends up being unnecssary waste. Besides, how often do you really need boards that are longer than 5-6' when building furniture?

There will be waste on the ends due to checking. It is unavoidable with air drying. You can minimize the length of the checks by placing the stickers as close to the ends of the boards as possible while still supporting every board and keeping the stickers in line and by sealing as Keggers mentioned.

And unless I know exactly what I'm going to build in a couple of years, I'll mill most of it to 4/4 and one or two sticks at 8/4 if the tree is large enough. When you actually need 8/4, it is rare that you need more than a stick.

My rule of thumb for air drying properly stickered with ends sealed, all under cover is 1 year per inch of thickness of board. 4/4 takes 1 year to dry, 8/4 takes 2 years, etc.

#12 Particle Board

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 08:54 AM

Personally, I try to read the log. I crosscut the log where ever I need to try and avoid the curve. If I end up with one that is 6' and another that is 10' so be it. I use a chainsaw mill and I hate having to deal with a bend starting out. There ends up being unnecssary waste. Besides, how often do you really need boards that are longer than 5-6' when building furniture?

There will be waste on the ends due to checking. It is unavoidable with air drying. You can minimize the length of the checks by placing the stickers as close to the ends of the boards as possible while still supporting every board and keeping the stickers in line and by sealing as Keggers mentioned.

And unless I know exactly what I'm going to build in a couple of years, I'll mill most of it to 4/4 and one or two sticks at 8/4 if the tree is large enough. When you actually need 8/4, it is rare that you need more than a stick.

My rule of thumb for air drying properly stickered with ends sealed, all under cover is 1 year per inch of thickness of board. 4/4 takes 1 year to dry, 8/4 takes 2 years, etc.



I think alot depends on what you build or like to build, take a look at your needs. I only mill a few dozen tree's a year so need the 8/4 and 12/4 for chairs and tables. Cabinet type work only needs short 4/4, dining tables and the like burn through alot of 8ft stock. All the junk that most see as unusable I see as a wood turners gold mine.

Don

#13 duckkisser

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 02:29 PM

just a thought that crossed my mind but maybe getin some wod cut in rift and quarter sawn almost the only way for you to get it the way you want it is if you make it yourself.

#14 Particle Board

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 07:03 AM

just a thought that crossed my mind but maybe getin some wod cut in rift and quarter sawn almost the only way for you to get it the way you want it is if you make it yourself.


Unless the tree is very large quarter sawing is a waste of wood unless you have something special planned. The center cut can be considered quartersawn so if you have the desire to get the cool flecks and rays the center cuts are were you will find them in flat sawn. Rift sawn is a real wast of lumber and is a serious pain on a band mill. Our woodmizer does a nice job but its not worth the extra work.

Don

#15 duckkisser

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 10:10 AM

i made a small box using quarter sawn need it for frame work so i wanted the lines to be really straight because it was oak frame on outside of a spalted box. just really like how even and tight it was so when i can i cut on band saw to get rift and quarter sawn boards. i don't know how great it would be for a whole logs might be more trouble then it worth. but then again its you tree do what every you want to do with it.



#16 Kevin Miller

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 06:40 PM

I had thought about doing some quarter sawn. You really don't see much quarter sawn walnut for sale. Is there a big difference visually in flat sawn and quarter sawn walnut compared to something like oak where it can be night and day? I do like the idea of the increased stability from quarter sawn, especially for something like a large table top.

I probably won't end up doing much quarter sawn because of the waste factor like dwacker said. I'll go with flat sawn, and let the quarter sawn happen where it will. I'm hoping when I cut into it I get a fair amount of variation in color. I love lighter honey hues of walnut mixed with the deep dark browns.

Again, thanks for all the input. I didn't think this would be as popular of a topic as it is.

Kevin

#17 duckkisser

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 07:53 PM

i say turn the trunk into flat sawn if you like color you will probably get that as well as the flame grain of flat sawn. then work on branches to get quarter sawn can use the quarter for any smaller projects like a keep sake box, picture frames ect....you can cut those to managable pieces and do those on you band saw and hire out to cut up trunk.

#18 duckkisser

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 07:57 PM

http://www.hobbithou...alnut, misc.htm forgot to add this got both quarter and flat sawn as well as figured walnut great site by the way for wood identification





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