Is There a Market for Thick Walnut Board?


Mark J
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As most of you know I don't do much flatwork.  In fact, unless you count plywood, I've never actually purchased any "flatwood" , at least not for flatwork.  So I'm looking for your opinions on whether this piece of walnut would still be of value to flatwood workers in spite of some defects.

Yesterday I was able to acquire a four inch thick by ten inch wide walnut board which I intend to use for a current and some future turning projects.  Dry wood this thick and wide is difficult to come by, in fact I would say it doesn't grow on trees.  But unfortunately in order to take possession of the this wonderfully thick and wide board I had to buy all eleven feet of it.  I'm not going to say what I paid for it as that would be to publicly shame myself.  But it is a lifetime supply,... assuming I get reincarnated,... a couple of times.  

To get it home, or indeed to be able to even move it at all, I had to have it cut in two, so I now have two boards and I was thinking that I might re-sell one of them in order to recoup some of my self esteem.  The board I would sell has a few flaws and I'm looking for your opinions as to how this affects its desirability.  I have several photos which I hope will give you an adequate idea of the board.  To keep them separated visually I have placed blue paper on one and green paper on the other.  The green board to me looks better for my purposes and at this point I plan to keep it.  

The "blue board" is 5' 5" long and 4 1/4" by 10" wide.  You can see that on one face it has a prominent knot with a large crack, and there is also an end check that runs several inches into the board.  To me, as a turner, these cracks are a real problem.  For flatwork is this still a good piece of material?

 The bark side:

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The pith side:

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Blue board near knot looks like some potential ukulele/guitar back material. Similar situation to the board I used to make mine (back and sides).

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Surely plenty of good material for flatwork but maybe all as smaller pieces. Not sure if the math works out to be cost effective though.

Could be good for someone that wants a walnut workbench?

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Mark, I’m not a turner but couldn’t the knot be filled with epoxy and used in turning? 

By my calculations, you have about 39 bf. The most recent price sheet I have from my most expensive supplier is from 6/2020 and it shows 16/4 at $15.50 bf., or $600 or so for yours. Both pieces are nice and the one you want to keep would be my choice as well.

Several years ago, I drove to Louisiana and cut down a walnut tree and brought it back to Houston and had it milled. Most was sawn at a little over 4/4 and the first cut of the trunk, 8’ long by 22” wide, I had cut at 8/4. After a 4 year air dry period, I used the 4/4 real quick on several projects. Luckily, we remodeled our house and I made a door from some of the 8/4 as it was long enough and I still have 2 slabs left. These have live edges and I could probably sell them as is. But, I will probably resaw them into usable pieces. 

Having said all of this, unfortunately you are going to have to find someone that is looking for a short, 5’6” x 10” piece that is 4” thick and then I doubt he will pay per bf for what you paid for an 11’ piece. Perhaps someone needs thick enough pieces that can be resawn into legs?  Not to bust your bubble, just saying. Perhaps your best bet is to peddle it to another turner? 

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12 hours ago, Coop said:

couldn’t the knot be filled with epoxy and used in turning? 

Yes, that's an option for turning, and I suppose for flatwork, too.  I thought about it, but it's not my favorite look.  

As Coop said an 11 foot board is worth more than twice a 5 1/2 foot board, but I wondering if  $10/bf would be a reasonable expectation?

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7 hours ago, Mark J said:

but I wondering if  $10/bf would be a reasonable expectation?

I'd buy it quite quickly for that amount and not think twice. Honestly at 4" thick it's probably worth more than $10 a BF even 5.5' long. The end checking could be worked around to a degree but you could just eliminate that area from the BF calculation. For this sell it as the price for the board not by the board foot. It's kind of an oddball thing.

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On 11/21/2021 at 7:37 AM, phinds said:

Uh ... what is the difference between half an 11 foot board and a 5 1/2 foot board ??? :unsure:

On 11/21/2021 at 8:32 AM, Mark J said:

oops!  Should have been "an 11 foot board"

And I proofread that twice.

I dunno, I think he had it right.  I’d pay a slight premium for the half 11’ board knowing that it came from the same stock as one of Mark J’s bowls! :P

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47 minutes ago, wtnhighlander said:

Also bear in mind that lumber prices vary wildly be region. You will probably recoup you money best with a local sale. 

But then, why not go the 'value added' route, and sell that material as turned works of art? Pretty sure you'll do better than break even, that way!

Thing is, short of leaving it on top of the tablesaw, I don't think I have a place to store it.  My lumber rack is full.  I still have to figure out where to put the the green board, but maybe when I do there will be enough space for two.  

I plan to sell through the flatwork club, so it will be local.  I wish I could offer one of you guys "a good deal", but this has to be cash and carry.  If it don't sell there I can try to peddle it through the turning clubs, as Coop suggested.  

3 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I'd buy it quite quickly for that amount and not think twice. Honestly at 4" thick it's probably worth more than $10 a BF even 5.5' long.... For this sell it as the price for the board not by the board foot. It's kind of an oddball thing.

I am thinking to ask maybe $220 assuming some negotiation.  

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