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Thread: Walnut sapwood finising

  1. #16
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    Glenn and Jim, it's clear from your photos that those walnut pieces have faded, yet mine have not. The clock I showed pictures of hangs on my living room wall and gets daily indirect sunlight from both left and right, at least as much as we get in WNY. Bill's question about whether or not the lightening effect is regional is interesting. I have no clue, but it looks like not all black walnut behaves the same. The difference isn't necessarily kiln dried vs. air dried, as you used AD lumber, Jim, for your projects; I suspect Glenn used KD. The clock I showed used air dried wood, then kiln dried at 110F without steam. The bowl was turned green and then air dried.

    John

  2. #17
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    Yes, all of the black walnut I've used to-date has been air dried. But like any species, different trees are, well...different trees...and I guess mine did what they wanted to do. That said, I've heard others over the years express the same, so I know I'm not alone.
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bill tindall View Post
    Sap wood is not a grading defect when grading walnut, or cherry. In fact one is likely to encounter less sap wood in #1 common than FAS.
    I dont know what grading rules your reading but sap in anything is 100% defect though Walnut is allowed to be graded under its own specific set of rules for some of the reasons you mention and more. FAS Cherry should be wide, and pretty close to 100% free of sap unless your being lied to. Walnut by nature has a massive amount of sapwood, more and more due to scarcity smaller trees are being sawn, and so on. So even with FAS your likely not even going to get one single wide face thats free of sap. We've gone through several thousand feet of 4/4 and 6/4 and even in a pack of 1MBF or more its a rarity to get a high percentage of boards that are heartwood all around. A face and an edge is a blessing. More commonly you may get 80% of one face and thats it. And NONE of it will be super nice straight grained. That material is culled out for the boutique market and will be `15-20 dollars a board foot and up.

    Sap is absolutely defect in the grading rules. If your told otherwise your being lied to. But Walnut is allowed far more defect than nearly any other species.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Yes, all of the black walnut I've used to-date has been air dried. But like any species, different trees are, well...different trees...and I guess mine did what they wanted to do. That said, I've heard others over the years express the same, so I know I'm not alone.
    We are finishing up a run of 250+ Walnut display boxes that is looking to hit 300 plus. Im sure region harvested, inherent nature of nature, finishing practices, and location of the finished item has a huge effect.

    All of this material came in KD, FAS, Steamed (bummer), but even unsteamed color variation from tree to tree is drastic.

    Attachment 443371

    Finished product will vary wildly in color. But I too have never seen the level of fading your photos show.

    Attachment 443372
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  5. #20
    I doubt Mark is "wrong" . But the owner of the custom architectural company where my longest employment was ,
    always said "sap in walnut is not graded as a defect". My interpretation was that meant " you gonna have to pay for the
    sap wood..I had to cut ,dry ,and saw that part along with the good stuff ".

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    I doubt Mark is "wrong" . But the owner of the custom architectural company where my longest employment was ,
    always said "sap in walnut is not graded as a defect". My interpretation was that meant " you gonna have to pay for the
    sap wood..I had to cut ,dry ,and saw that part along with the good stuff ".
    Im not arguing in any way shape or form that I dont "pay" for sapwood. Its in my dumpster every single time we do a Walnut job. If you have to meet a heartwood one face spec' you will throw away half your material. If you need heartwood 2 faces you may get lucky with 1/3 yeild. If you need 4 sides.. may god be with you.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  7. #22
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    The nature of walnut trees is why sap isn't considered a "defect" when grading...they don't tend to grow straight in many cases, so boards end up with sap showing or narrower than preferred. If sap was counted as a defect, the supply would be "darn small" compared to what it is now. Steaming during KD is the major way sapwood is mitigated with walnut...the sap gets darker to be more like the heartwood. The downside is that the overall color gets, um...boring...but that's a very subjective thing for sure. I personally celebrate the sapwood, but many woodworkers and many clients (if the piece is being. made for others) don't prefer it. The same is true for cherry, although grading and yields are different.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #23
    The grading rules I am reading are from the National Hardwood Lumber Association grading manual. This organization establishes grading standards for North American hardwood lumber production and sale. Specifically, page 8 Section 23 "Unlimited sapwood or heartwood is admitted unless otherwise specified." Admitted in this context means not considered a defect when calculating yield to determine grade. Otherwise specified means any of these rules can be modified by specific contract between buyer and seller.

    Indeed walnut has a bunch of specific grading rules, allowing shorter and more narrow lumber in the upper grades. For unsteamed walnut, there are rules for sapwood, however, I have never seen walnut from the larger mills that was not steamed. If a mill does not have steaming capacity to they will sell their product to a mill that does From NHLA rule book, "When walnut has been steamed.....sapwood shall not be considered. "Not considered" in this context means not considered a defect in establishing grade.

    My company, Holston Woods, sold at wholesale hardwood lumber for 30 years. I consulted at a mill that focused on walnut production and we bought from a mill that only sawed cherry and maple. This experience left me with a lot of experience with cherry and walnut grading and quality expectations.

    Bottom line, when the market is tight the quality of these two species sucks. Lumber will be more narrow, just meeting minimum width grading standards, and there will be lots of sap wood, because smaller logs are being sawed. Walnut is very tight now with quality the worst I have seen. I saw a load of walnut logs headed to a mill with logs as small as 10". In 2008 when the hardwood market tanked I saw bundles of walnut and cherry with widths over 12". That was the time to stock up.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bill tindall View Post
    Admitted in this context means not considered a defect when calculating yield to determine grade. ~ This experience left me with a lot of experience with cherry and walnut grading and quality expectations.
    No disagreement with steamed grading. The main mill I pull from unfortunately steams but its understandable why because without it they would likely dump Walnut as it would likely be $30/bf. This mill has perhaps 5 million board feet in production at any given time with around 2 million in the dry on hand at any time. Cherry is never an issue there. We commonly receive 16' long packs of FAS with 12"-20" boards, dead clear, no pin knots, for the full length. Walnut quality is great but they grade on the standard not the Walnut rule so there is a lot more narrow, and steaming there is miles and miles of sap.

    The other two mills we pull from (both with perhaps a million to 2 million bf in the dry) dont steam and whenever you quote or order Walnut you are mailed a copy of the NHLA rules for Walnut. I completely understand that the rules for steamed discount sap as a defect but everyone (including the mill that steams) knows and understands it a defect. The sap does not go away nor is it any easier to deal with when steamed and the arguments like Jim's to "celebrate" the sap work far better with unsteamed due to higher contrast.

    In this area at least, if you are pulling from someplace like Irion or Hearne and you want all heart, its gonna hurt.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  10. #25
    The type of job Mark Bolton is doing, walnut boxes, shows good quality control. All those collectible type orders have to
    be done well as the buyers tend to be "discerning".

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    The type of job Mark Bolton is doing, walnut boxes, shows good quality control. All those collectible type orders have to
    be done well as the buyers tend to be "discerning".
    I wouldn't say that Mel. In today's world your competing a hair above gander mtn, cabelas, dicks, who knows who else. People today won't pay much more for something special. They will pay a little more but not much more. These things have to be flown out fast. Like the average SMC hobby guys head would explode 6 ways to Sunday fast. Its like "run" in the shop. You don't sit and contemplate your $175 lie Neilsen block plane (i own two) EVER.

    Its speed. Were lucky to have grain matched wraps (boxes cut from single board) but ill guess no one but us sees it forget about appreciates it.

    Its a completely different world now. You either adapt or die.
    Last edited by Mark Bolton; 10-20-2020 at 2:12 PM.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post

    Its speed. Were lucky to have grain matched wraps (bozes cut from single boad) but ill guess no one but us sees it forget about appreciates it.
    This is so true...so many folks who buy things really have no appreciation for the craftsmanship things like wrapping grain bring to the table and therefore, they place no financial value on it, either. If I were trying to actually make a living with my woodworking, rather than 'mad money', I'd be in deep doo-doo because of that. It makes me physically cringe to throw things together without those special considerations...I'm just too anal! But you are correct...businesses have to adapt to the market.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    This is so true...so many folks who buy things really have no appreciation for the craftsmanship things like wrapping grain bring to the table and therefore, they place no financial value on it, either. If I were trying to actually make a living with my woodworking, rather than 'mad money', I'd be in deep doo-doo because of that. It makes me physically cringe to throw things together without those special considerations...I'm just too anal! But you are correct...businesses have to adapt to the market.
    Anal = death

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    Anal = death
    Yes, or it's a good reason to carefully select clients. Those that I do work with understand my nature and are willing to pay the price for it. But I don't do any production work other than some subcontract stuff I cut and even that is not "regular" since those clients, like me, work on specific commissions. I make some parts and jigs for them to speed up their work and increase their margins accordingly. And I make a few shekels or gain other advantages in the process.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #30
    I've forgotten what the product was, ....some collectible, but the maker had a big lot of boxes that needed to be lined
    with cloth , felt ,I think. They had a number of ladies working on them ....and a lot of picky complaints from buyers.
    They had to redo them and fire most of the women. My Mom was one of the stars! I'm sure Mark priced them right ...
    and did them right. And efficiently.

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