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Thread: 16" Walnut

  1. #1

    16" Walnut

    16" Walnut... Hard to find these days... Mom had a table leaf she wanted to use as a top for the Cast Iron Singer sewing machine base. Didn't think much of it till I began working on it. No glue lines, Cut to length and sanding exposed the annual rings. flat cut wood with the core near one edge which left about 80 rings to the other side. As there was no sap, I assume the tree was wider than the core heartwood. So this would put the Walnut tree well over 3ft in diameter (an achievement for Black Walnut) Wouldn't it be great to secure such woods these days...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Floydada, Tx
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    1,941
    You are not looking in the rigth places.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    8,529
    I saw a slab of walnut at Sam Maloof's shop that was being made into a conferance table. It was easily 6 ft wide by 20 ft long and was 2 in thick. I know that Le DeRude saw it also when he was there.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westphalia, Michigan
    Posts
    955
    I have a 40" DBH walnut next to my barn. It has a 10 ft. log before any limbs. I looked a some real hummers over at long-beard Merlau's place that were probably around 60" , might have been only 50" but they were BIG. I wonder if he ever got them slabbed up?................Larry, oh Laaaarrry.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    new york city burbs
    Posts
    10,188
    I dont think its polite to question larry about his retirement fund.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    32
    Hi Bill,
    About 30 years ago, I went out to Grandpa's farm to stay for the summer. I went to a farm auction with him and he paid $5 per stick for some joists that came out of a barn. Grandpa gave me the "keep your mouth shut" look while we were loading the truck. Once we drove away I realized what had happened....Grandpa recognized the lumber was walnut and got it for a steal. Each board was a full 2" X 10" and X12", and longer than the bed of the pickup. I worked with him on quite a few projects afterwards, using that lumber which previously had been used to store hay on it.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Al killian View Post
    You are not looking in the rigth places.
    Not having ever hung out with Sam Maloof, I have been a shelterd soul, I guess.. But having been a WWing teacher for most of my life and responsible for buying lumbers for the schools I still have never come up with this wide of a piece of walnut, We all know of the occasional hugh tree or lucky find, but for everyday purchases, it is a rare breed.

    I do have an antique six board Blanket chest with exceptionally wide Cherry planks, and back in the early 70s I had a student build a six board chest with some very wide boards they cut on his granddad's farm. The gist is that in todays market one would be hard pressed to discover any. If it comes through, the big shots get first dibs. I have 15" Mahogany (in the rough) and some large Cherry but not Walnut.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westphalia, Michigan
    Posts
    955
    Bill, What is going on is that most lumber is cut for market. Things are more standardized in industry. It boils down to basic economics. If a sawmill has trouble moving wide stock then they don't tend to cut it. Most furniture makers prefer boards in the 4" to 6" widths because of the issues with wood movement. Also logs are cut for maximum yield so wide stock is secondary. I do know sawmill operators including a few big ones and while they do get large diameter logs they almost always cut the saw-logs down for the reasons I mentioned above. I know this both from talking to log buyers and from getting log butts from them. Some of those butts are huge. ( I got one curly maple butt a few years ago. That single butt was loaded with a fork truck and I didn't want to put any more weight in my 1/2 ton pickup.)

    Next in consideration is the small sawmill operator. A lot of the time their mills can't handle really wide logs. They also cut for grade because their profit margins are also tight. I do get logs milled regularly by one such operator. I have to give him very specific directions to flitch cut a log or he will assume that I want maximum yield.

    If you want a sawmill operator to cut wide slabs then you generally need to find one who has a slabbing attachment. They are around but not very common. I sometimes resort to my chainsaw mill. It has about a 30" max capacity.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Posts
    8,529
    I have to agree with Pual. I need some 12/4 white oak for the altar in my commision and I found out that I'll need to special order it. The thickest anyone stocks is 10/4.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westphalia, Michigan
    Posts
    955
    Don, 12/4 is indeed hard to find and for good reason. It is extremely difficult to dry properly. The only way I know to consistently dry thick stock is with a vacuum kiln and those are fairly rare birds in this country. I would think about gluing up stock for thickness using mitered joints if appearance is the issue. I sort of checked into the idea of supplying knees for boat keels and I found that 12/4 is about max a conventional kiln can dry and that there was a lot of waste because of honeycomb and checking in the wood.

    Sounds like a neat project.

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