Eddie Wilson

When is dry rotted sapwood a concern?

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I purchased some air-dried lumber from a local lumber guy, walnut slabs. I noticed that the sapwood on the edge (1 or so inches thick) was dry rotted. I can break off a bit by hand, with some force. I planed a bit of the heartwood and it looks great. In contrast, I've purchased kiln dried lumber from another local guy, and the sapwood seems to be just as strong as the heartwood. I see people incorporating walnut sapwood into their projects with beautiful results. 

Should I be concerned about dry rotted sapwood? Is this the difference between air-dried and kiln-dried? How safe is it to incorporate walnut sapwood into your projects?

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Sapwood could have been dead before the tree was cut. Or it could have been exposed during air drying and degraded.

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I like Bmac's explanation.  I will note that an outdoor table that I made a few years ago with Western Red Cedar, that was treated with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, and then with spar varnish - and kept under cover - has lasted quite well (both the sapwood and heartwood.)

That doesn't conflict with what Bmac said.

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I built our Walnut kitchen cabinets out of Walnut that came from a standing dead log.   The sapwood had long ago rotted completely away, and it had been struck by lightning.  That was when I was young, and foolish, and had I known how much work, and waste there would have been, I would have just bought wood.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with the wood I was able to use though.

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