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Thread: Do I want this tree?

  1. #1

    Do I want this tree?

    A friend has a black walnut tree that blew onto an abandoned building 3 years ago. The tree is largely intact, with dirt still on the root ball. The stump is about 18-20 inches in diameter. There appears to be about 20 feet of usable trunk. The tree has no leaves, hence I assume it is dead.

    I live in South Central Washington. Humidity is 10-15% much of the year. We get less than 10 inches of rain annually.

    Is this tree likely to make good lumber? I will address harvest and milling if the answer is yes.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    Todd

  2. #2
    If you can handle it and get it sawn, I'd recommend doing so. But I'm not an expert in this area. Maybe others will point out some problems.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Dad had one taken down at his house years ago (Northern Michigan). The tree guy slabbed it up and I got a couple boards that I air dried. It made for nice project wood.

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    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  4. #4
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    I built our kitchen cabinets from a dead standing Walnut tree. It had been standing dead so long, that the sapwood had rotted off of it. Most of it was still good, and I still have some lumber left from it 40 years later.

  5. #5
    Walnut is great wood, I would definitely want it. If you can find somebody who will do it, the stump wood, including that underground, will have great figure. It is highly prized for gun stocks. But you run into rocks when you try to use the part underground. Figured wood is also unstable wood. On a gun stock, you want the part with figure between your trigger hand and your shoulder, not out where it supports the action. It would also be good for a table top but not so much for doors or legs.

    Anyway, I would want as much of the trunk as possible. Limbs will not be stable and are probably better for firewood.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    I built our kitchen cabinets from a dead standing Walnut tree. It had been standing dead so long, that the sapwood had rotted off of it. Most of it was still good, and I still have some lumber left from it 40 years later.
    40 years - nice air-drying job, Tom.

    I think it's dry.
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  7. #7
    Based on what you’ve said, I would say it’s worth pursuing. It’s not too much effort or money to hire a portable Sawyer with a wood mizer for a day to get it milled into whatever you want. Wood mizer has a database of portable sawyers on their website, IIRC.

    Have you priced Walnut lately? $$$

    Working with nice quality, air dried Walnut is a really treat for the woodworker.
    Still waters run deep.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    How does one get a Black Walnut to even grow on 10 inches of rain a year? Is it next to a septic system drain field or something similar?

    I'd definitely want the tree, but it might be rather expensive to get it sawn. One tree, growing in a yard next to buildings isn't going to a priority job for any sawyers, and they may expect you to cover the cost if (probably when), they saw into some iron. On the other hand, if it really grew on 10" of rain a year, it could be spectacularly close grained, beautiful walnut, and having aged in the tree, will if air-dried, have the potential for great color.

  9. #9
    I would go for it. Portable band saw mill blades cost around $25 so that cost risk is low.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Seattle
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    Hi Todd,
    A friend has a bandsaw mill at Lake Wenatchee and got several English walnut logs from old orchards that lost trees in the 2015? fires around Wenatchee-the town 20+ mi, from the lake, The trees were left standing for several years before he was given the logs and the milled lumber was really nice-no decay or infestations at all. You could get a lot of nice stock from a log that size and I imagine there are bandsaw mill owners close to you that would be happy to mill it for you at a reasonable cost. Stacked and stickered it would dry fast in your neck of the wood. Try not to spill any of your Leonetti's Cab on that beautiful wood!! If there is a turners club near you I'm sure their members would love to have the leftovers for bowls. I am in Seattle and can hook you up with the Lake Wenatchee guys if you have ??? or can't find a mill closer. Sounds like a fun and rewarding adventure--Good luck.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Todd, I've sawn walnut that was on the ground fir 5 years. The heartwood was still great.

    I'd saw that in a heartbeat. With low rainfall the tree is likely to have grown slowly with tight rings and little sapwood. If it was near a building keep in mind that it might be a "yard" tree with metal in it, especially in the first 4-5 feet from the ground. A metal detector can help.

    One thing you can do before you decide is chainsaw the trunk just above the root ball. Cut at again below the major branching if you can get to it. If you can't get to the upper part safely perhaps you can pull the tree off the building onto the ground.

    Saw the log into lengths as desired and look at the ends where you've sawn. If they look good, the logs will likely be good.


    JKJ

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    When I did this several years ago, my main problem was getting the logs from the ground onto the trailer. Did not have any power equipment except for a winch mounted on the trailer. A friend had a bandsaw mill that I used to cut the slabs and most of it is still stacked under cover.

    A couple of things to consider. Look at the bark to see if the trunk is twisted. Unless severe, it may still be used for a lot of projects but runout may reduce the quality of the lumber. Another thought is to harvest crotch lumber since it can be beautiful. However, the minimum length of the log for the bandsaw I used was 4' and the crotch logs I cut were well short of that length. I have yet to mill those pieces but have considered a jig to fit the bandsaw. Good luck!
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    Orwell, NY
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    Walnut and cherry and black locust are all quite rot resistant, other species too but those are the ones around here. I sawed a cherry log that had been on the ground for 3 years before we got our mill, the heartwood was as good as new.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    Seattle, WA
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    Todd,

    Thereís a guy in Rochester, WA with a saw mill that you might be able to work a deal with for getting some of that wood milled. Heíll also know if the tree is useful or not - he mills some Walnut from WA/OR/North CA, though mainly he does local Maple. Look for a guy on Craigslist selling Maple. Heís a nice older guy who knows his stuff.

    Iíll say, if you donít want this tree, then Iíd be very interested in going out there with my chain saw to make as many bowl blanks that I can!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Alberta
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    Yes,you want that tree.

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