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Thread: Can wood be too old?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Lafayette, Indiana

    Can wood be too old?

    I guy that I work with heard me talking about turning wood on my lathe and said that he knew where I could get some black walnut wood. Of course I was intrested...anyway....he told be there was some in his backyard that I could have and has been there for several years. I went to look at it and it is a tree trunk about 8 feet long and at least 35-40 inches round. WOW!! It has been laying there ever since it was cut down several years ago and even all the bark has been weathered away. I don't even think my 16 inch chain saw could do anything with this. I will have to get help cutting it up. However I'm now wondering if it could have rotted in these few years that it has been down and left outside? It feels very solid.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Floydada, Tx
    Take your saw and plunge it in in a few feet from the end. If the saw sink in real easy try further in the log. If you hit soild towards the middle then give it a try. The rotten wood should have different colored shavings then the soild.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Tampa & NC

    Can wood be to old

    Try an get a bigger saw the go up the tree about a foot at a time cutting the ends off an hopefully you will start hitting solid wood with a tree that big in dia.The worst you can do is end up with a bunch of fire wood.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    sydney australia

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Tom, I agree with the others. The only way to know for sure is to open it up and have a look. Chances are the ends are checked (cracked) but you'll likely find solid wood beyond that. If the wood's dry, it'll be a bit harder to turn than if it's still green, but it'll still be very usable. (And a log that size is likely to still be moist in the middle.)
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Remlik, Virginia
    I never have seen the heartwood of a downed Black Walnut rot. I have sawn logs that had been down 30 years and only the sapwood was gone. Of course you will most likely find that there are cracks starting from the exposed surfaces (where bark is off) down into the log and endgrain radial cracks. The log will definitely not be dry in the center. Those 30 year old logs still were off the moisture meter as a green log would have been.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    I don't have any walnut laying about, but when I moved into my place almost 4 years ago there were a bunch of cedars that were dead falls laying back behind where I put my shop. When I started clearing up the area, the sap wood would just flake off almost like powder, but the heartwood was solid and very red. I do have a tree about 8 inches diameter, standing up on the hill behind the house that I'm pretty sure might be walnut.. because it's dead I wanted to take it down. It's standing very close to another tree and not much room to work, but when I tried to cut it my chain saw must have been dull or something.. it hardly made a dent in the wood... I don't know how long it's been dead and standing, but now that I have a new chain saw, I plan to take it down later this summer.
    Tellico Plains, TN
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Westphalia, Michigan
    Walnut does not rot very fast. It does check pretty bad sometimes if left for several years. I have been suprised though when I have sawn some boards from a log that looked rather bad. I got some nice lumber out of it.

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