View Full Version : Butternut

ray connors
04-09-2008, 10:25 AM
I'm responsible for the clean up of a butternut tree. The tree was topped its base left standing. The base/trunk is substantial. I'll measure it this afternoon but it's over 4' in diameter.

I was thinking of milling some of the wood into carving block sizes. Then I thought what size is that? Without a plan I'm going to mill the upper logs free of heart lived edged taking off the sapwood on bark face ( Better ideas)
thought is I can always resaw later and with the heart removed checking should be minimized. We don't have many butternuts left in my area so I wanted to maximize utilization. Milling shorts instead of sending to the firewood pile.

Anyone near Clinton,CT give me a shout if you're into butternut.


Sam Yerardi
04-09-2008, 11:06 AM
Whatever you don't use I guarantee you won't have ANY problem selling it.

Dave McGeehan
04-09-2008, 4:15 PM
Ray, here is the method I use to mill carving blocks:

Start working on the log as soon as you can from the time it's cut down. The longer you wait, the more chance of checking.

Remove the bark and sapwood. Although sometimes, if I want to use the lighter sapwood as a part of the design, I'll leave it on walnut or cherry. If you plan on only using the heartwood, then remove the sapwood.

Looking at the end of the log, I either split or bandsaw it lengthwise into 4 or 5 pieces with each piece's width never extending beyond the pith. If it already has a few deep checks, I'll split it using those checks.

Looking at the end of each piece as if it were a triangle-shaped piece of pie, remove all three corners lengthwise, especially the pith. The reason for this is that you rarely will use those parts as part of the finished carving. So it's best to remove them now so there is less mass and therefore less chance of splitting while drying.

Seal the ends. I use WOODCRAFT Green Wood End Sealer - Woodcraft.com (http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyid=769)

Weigh each piece and write it on a piece of paper with the date. I thumbtack it to the end of the piece.

Store it out of the sun somewhere where it's not too dry like a basement. Weigh it a few weeks later and write the new weight and date on the same paper. Do this every few months until the weight stablizes. At this point it's ready to carve. Most of my wood loses almost half its weight from the day it's cut until the day it stops losing water weight.

I've had good success using this method on nearly every type of domestic wood. But sometimes the wood humbles me by reminding me that this is a partnership between the two of us and one deep check will form right at the end of the drying period. In that case I either work a design around it or split it once more along that crack and use it for two smaller projects.

Also, a good measure of luck never hurts either.