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Thread: "Most valuable" walnut cuts

  1. #1

    "Most valuable" walnut cuts

    I delivered some walnut logs to a local sawyer. They aren't cut yet. I'm going to have a lot more lumber than I need for the personal projects I have in mind. I'm going to air dry, so realize the lumber won't be ready for quite a while. (And from my other thread, it sounds like I will need to start this outside, but can move them into my barn or basement later.)

    If I may want to sell some of the wood down the road, is there a "best" way to have this sawed, in terms of thickness price/value? For example, obviously, 8/4 wood is twice 4/4 - but is it more than twice as valuable? Any recommendations regarding thickness & width to have this cut, to help make a future sale easier & better priced? (Maybe I should have just tried to sell the logs, but what's done is done, and I think stack drying will be an interesting thing to try)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Fairbanks AK
    On a per cubic inch basis the most expensive walnut I have seen is for muzzle loading gunstocks. Walnut is about the same strength as oak on impact, sudden force, but weighs about half as much as oak. The front stuffer guys and gals want a fairly uniform grain, with a bend in it so there is no or minimal runout in the straight piece under the rifle barrel, and a smooth bend to the straight piece, also with no runout on the straight piece from the lock to the shoulder, and definitely no runout at the angle. If you got figure to go with the desirable grain, add $$$.

    I did handle a legit Britsh "Brown Bess" in an antique shop once, it was fairly late production, about $1k retail; much much later production than the brits surrendered at Yorktown. To carve that stock I would need a blank 12/4 x about 6" x about 60", an enormous piece of wood. Most of it waste, but really three inches wide at the breech where the wood had to enclose the barrel and support the lockwork. Some of the current smiths would get a front stuffer pistol stock and a couple knife handles out of the same blank while they are making a rifle stock from one of those.

    From there, if you got no figure to speak of and relatively straight grain, one big piece costs me more to buy than 2 small pieces. So yes, 8/4 (local to me) is more than twice as expensive as 4/4. But the grain patterns in your 8/4 pieces will need to be amenable to drying without fatal flaws. Also, thicker cuts will be better quality firewood if your airdrying doesn't work out.

    I could get more bookmatched parts out of a thicker piece if I was into that sort of thing.

    If your airdrying setup does work out, keep an eye out for hickory and ash. Air dried hickory and ash are the best two North American woods I know of for future steam bending. Kiln dried hickory was problematic for steam bending in my shop. I have some KD ash to try steam bending in the future, but I have yet to find a single reference that any wood type is prefered as KD rather than air dried for steam bending, something about air dried lignin hasn't permanenetly set, but kiln dired lignin is problematic to reliquify. If you got airdried hickory or ash at 8/4 x 2 inches nominal in 16 foot lengths you can start selling to boat builders for rub rails and such. Wider widths will be prefered by specialized furniture makers.

    Also watch for hard maple if this is a successful side hobby for you, esp fiddleback. Antique gunstocks again. I am confident every walnut stock in my (modern) hunting battery was kiln dried, but the smiths getting magazine coverage with their muzzle loaders will bend over backwards for airdried, and use maple when they can't get walnut.

    I don't work with walnut much because the scraps are not especially useful in my BBQ pits, a little walnut provides a lot of smoke flavor and gets bitter quickly; but the impact resistance, the shock resistance with light weight, is useful for specific applications. Might be reasonable handles for screwdrivers and such too, not so much for chisel handles.

    I will make a point to go look at a wood properties table again to see which impact resistance makes walnut good for gunstocks but not chisel handles, and which impact parameter makes ironwood good for chisel handles but not gunstocks. I am going to guess chisel handles are about crush resistance, just a guess.

    Good luck!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Western PA
    I donít have experience reselling too much wood, but 8/4 definitely costs more than 4/4 per board foot. 12/4 is even more expensive than 8/4. 16/4 even more. Going off the top of my head, kiln dried walnut from my wholesale supplier, 4/4 is about $5 per bdft, 8/4 is $6+, 12/4 has to be approaching $9-10 a bdft, and honestly, 16/4 is extremely hard to come by. I feel like if someone needs 16/4, then they pay whatever it takes. I donít think my supplier has 16/4 in stock right now.

    The thicker cuts are more valuable per board foot, but they are also considerably longer to dry prior to selling. Up to you what to do in this instance. I think 4/4 is the most worthless cut of lumber, and it really annoys me when people only saw 4/4.

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