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Thread: Small pieces of Black Walnut

  1. #1

    Small pieces of Black Walnut

    I salvaged some windblown black walnut that has been down for a decade or so, the sapwood was rotten but the heartwood was surprisingly solid. There is a handful of these small sections, 8-10" dia. 4-5' long, are they worth trying to save? If so how would you cut them (somebody suggested gun stock blanks, which sounds interesting but I know nothing about it)?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
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    9,180
    You could cut them into bowl blanks for turners. If the heartwood really is 8" diameter by 4' long, and if you have several of them, you could cut the trunks into boards and make small furniture like end tables. If you have fewer sections, you could use boards to make smaller objects like jewelry chests. Remember that if you cut the trunks into boards, you'll have to dry the boards

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    How big is the first piece in the top picture? The English Brown Bess front stuffer is a popular item for many, but finding a full length stock to go under and around the barrel is a challenge. I handled one once in an antique gun shoppe, it was very late production, I didn't even have to put gloves on to handle it. At the lock the wooden stock width was a solid three inches. IIRC correctly the ideal stock blank for one of those is about 48" long with the elbow in the grain to not weaken the bent part towards the shoulder about 16 inches from one end. It was a big piece of wood with a fair bit of metal attached, I think it was tagged about $1200 a few years ago.

    Short stocks for like two piece shotgun wood or sporting rifles are fairly common, full length walnut with an angle for the shoulder stock can get into big dollars even with no figure in a hurry. Try some various searches on terms like "Brown Bess Kit" or "Home made Brown Bess." I remember, in reading about Colonial Williamsburg, a team got together to drop a big walnut, but the gunsmith wanted the curved pieces that were straight grained trunk transitioning to the major roots for the curve in the grain so it ended up being a major pain to even drop the tree. I seem to recall they had a couple oxen drag the first four feet of trunk with the root ball on it to the gunsmith's yard so he could deal with splitting blanks out of it without anymore help from the team. Forked branches may have too much reaction wood in them, black powder muzzle loaders was a rabbit hole I veered away from after the first kit.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    264
    Also, check for figure before you make firewood out of it. I bought a piece of fiddleback walnut about 8 years ago, I guess it is stabilized to my shop now, about 3x4x20, gosh I paid a lot of money for that. It hasn't seemed to move much in the last five years or so, I keep it with the Christmas ornaments and unwrap it from its brown paper once annually.

    "Gun Stock blanks for sale" will give you about 17 billion hits in 0.0005 seconds if you want to look at typical sizes.

    The thing about walnut is it is about as strong as oak in shock, but only weighs about half as much, so gun stocks that have to be carried a long way and stand up to shock is perfect. Not as springy as hickory or ash, so not axe handles.

  5. #5
    The one pictured is probably just over 4', and there's 2 or 3 more pieces about that size in the woods. I am definitely interested in making a stock for my self, but I don't think I'm up to mass producing blanks. I've cut a handful of slabs out of the bigger log sections. Mainly I was just wondering what options are out there besides 1x4s or 1x6s on something that small. I suppose for something fine like a gun stock it will have to properly dry so I'll take a stab at one and see if I want to attempt it with the others.

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