Putting the "log" back in Blog

Down Goes a Big Bundle of Walnut Straws

Posted on September 2nd, by Andy Brownell in Projects. 2 comments

walnut tree fallen ready to cutI posted a shot from last weekend of a co-worker’s walnut tree that was coming down for a construction project. Now it’s cut and waiting for the sawyer to arrive. I think this 15′ long, ~ 3,100 lb. section, despite some of it’s flaws, has some serious potential.

I’ve done this once before on my split-top Roubo bench from a maple tree log. And after all, the editorial mission of this blog is: “Putting the Log back in Blog” (see header at top left side of web page). So I’m just staying true to that. There’s something unique about following a tree from log to lumber to final project. Knowing what the wood started as grounds you in the nature of the material you are working with all the way down to the nuances of where grain and pattern comes from. Chapter 1 of Jeff Miller’s newest book, Foundations of Better Woodworking, covers that same topic, The Wood. It’s hard to image that this massive log shown here is most analogous in structure to a big bundle of straws.

Looking at the upper and lower cross sections of this tree reveals just that – including one of those “Crazy Straw” tops where it splits into two. At 15′ it will  probably be a little to unwieldy to cut into continuous single boards, so I’m thinking it should be cut into two pieces. The first will run from the base, 10′ up just over the first branch. Then the remaining portion will run the final 5′ to the split at the top.

The lower portion I’m recommending to my co-worker to have cut into a combination of 4-5 16/4 pieces from the middle, and then 2″+ slabs cut across the remaining pieces. That should give the tree a nice mix of good heartwood beams and full width slabs containing sap wood on either side.

For the upper portion, I think having it cut into 5′ long x 18″-24″ wide x 2 1/2″ thick slabs will produce some really interesting visual elements by the crotch up top where the tree split into two separate branches. I’m open to other suggestions as well. Either way, the log should yield around 330 bd/ft of lumber for the owner.

Labor Day weekend has been fairly productive so far too. I picked up a pile of cherry and walnut lumber from the same co-worker who had it cut years ago from a few fallen trees. I’ll be building his family a shaker dining table in cherry from this pile. The trees must have been fairly sizable based on what I’ve stacked up in my garage. The 40″ tall pile is 10′ at it’s longest and 6′ at the shortest. Evenly split between cherry and walnut, including seven 16/4 x 8′ long posts. It has to be somewhere around 400 bd/ft total. Nice.


2 thoughts on “Down Goes a Big Bundle of Walnut Straws

  1. Beautiful log! Getting the best out of a tree is an art unto itself. I’m lucky to have a very talented and experienced sawyer I get to buy from. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a good living as a small sawyer.

  2. I’m looking for 2 small cross sections of black walnut to make hanging night stands. Do you have any pieces to sell like the one pictured above?

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