Steamed Walnut


curlyoak
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I look at it as adding to the price and reducing the value. Must be some added cost to steam. Today I was cutting some walnut drawer faces and there was no way of knowing where the sap wood was. So for me today negative value from steaming.

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I also think there are variations in the steaming process. I've had walnut that has the typical beautiful colors and is steamed.

The walnut in this picture is all from the same board, resawn veneer. The right side shows the sapwood which still looks like sap wood. Honestly I'd rather it be white than look like it does. The center and left board have wonderful color despite being steamed. That said I've also had steamed lumber where the whole board looks like the sapwood on the right. Different trees? Different processing? I do know that when i buy unsteamed walnut the colors are a lot more reliable in that i almost always get the purples, reds, and dark chocolates.

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9 minutes ago, difalkner said:

If it wasn't steamed and folks only wanted the look of the heartwood then the cost would skyrocket due to the waste of the sapwood.

I think this is a myth. The dealer I buy from doesn't steam their walnut and their price is comparable to the yard i bought from previously. They have a grade that will have a lower content of sapwood and it's about a $2/BF premium over the grade with more sapwood which is around 25%. 4/4 80% heart was ~$7.90 4/4 93% heart was ~$9.80 this was a year ago don't know where the prices went this year haven't needed to buy.

I know of some regions where you can't get steamed 4/4 walnut for under $10 and that probably doesn't have a sap spec, as sapwood isn't a defect it could end up being over the 20% my yard specs. This isn't an NHLA spec it's a yard spec.

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On 9/9/2021 at 3:41 AM, wtnhighlander said:

Value is in the eye of the consumer. As Shannon mentioned in the podcast, commercial consumers (flooring, plywood, etc...) value uniformity and high yield over the natural coloring that we hobbyists prefer.

Bingo.  Where some see color variations as a challenge to usability I see the variety as an opportunity to use "just that section" of the material for optimum effect.

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On 9/9/2021 at 7:35 AM, Chestnut said:

I think this is a myth.

For a single sawmill you're probably correct.  But nationwide if all the sapwood was cut off the board then we'd all pay the price.  The guy who owns the trees and the logger are still going to charge the same because they're dealing with the whole tree. The processing facilities - Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific, etc. - now have extra work to do to inspect and cut the sapwood off and they'll have far less Walnut to offer distributors.  So they'll do what companies do - they'll go up on their price and the Walnut boards will be smaller so you'll have to buy more of them for your projects.

You and I buy from local sawmills so none of this really factors in but consider a job I had last year; 130 Walnut plaques 24"x28".  That's about the size of a two-topper table in a restaurant.  They accepted the fact that many would have sapwood but since I ordered steamed Walnut for the job it wasn't as noticeable as if I had used unsteamed.  I used 700bf for the job but if I had to order 1,000bf for the same job so that I could guarantee no sapwood then the price would have been much, much higher. 

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31 minutes ago, difalkner said:

For a single sawmill you're probably correct.  But nationwide if all the sapwood was cut off the board then we'd all pay the price.  The guy who owns the trees and the logger are still going to charge the same because they're dealing with the whole tree. The processing facilities - Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific, etc. - now have extra work to do to inspect and cut the sapwood off and they'll have far less Walnut to offer distributors.  So they'll do what companies do - they'll go up on their price and the Walnut boards will be smaller so you'll have to buy more of them for your projects.

You and I buy from local sawmills so none of this really factors in but consider a job I had last year; 130 Walnut plaques 24"x28".  That's about the size of a two-topper table in a restaurant.  They accepted the fact that many would have sapwood but since I ordered steamed Walnut for the job it wasn't as noticeable as if I had used unsteamed.  I used 700bf for the job but if I had to order 1,000bf for the same job so that I could guarantee no sapwood then the price would have been much, much higher. 

We're arguing semantics. You said skyrocket. I don't think a 25% increase for a cleaner product is a skyrocket. When i think skyrocket i think 100% increase or more. It's also assuming that all lumber purchased would have the sap removed which may not be the case. This is also assuming that people aren't discarding their sapwood currently, Some commercial users may use it others may cut it off. High end commercial products probably don't have sap, even if it's steamed.

Second I'm not really buying from what you think of as a "local mill" they are local yes but ship across the country and have locations in 2 states and 100 employees, they just happen to be local to me. They require a minimum of 100BF per order and no picking so their clients are mostly commercial except for the odd person like me that can stomach large orders. I don't believe hardwoods are really processed by the Georgia Pacific, and Weyerhaeusers of the world, in fact those 2 are dedicated softwood producers. A large portion of the hardwood lumber comes from small single person operations that sell to lumber distributors like Shannon Rodger's company. There are a lot of details on the hardwood lumber market in Shannon's podcast you should listen there is a lot of valuable information in it. The above is sourced from his podcast so i don't really know the material well enough to have a detailed discussion.

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