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Waka

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Wakey Wakey time to answer questions

A friend of mine has a walnut tree (20 Yrs old) in his garden that has to com down because it has out grown the garden. The tree once down has been offered to me in any sizes I want.

As someone who always buys kiln dryed, being given a tree is a novelty.

My questions are: Is the tree too young, what would be the best way to cut the wood for use as planks, or should I just keep it for lathe work, how long would I have to keep the wood before its usable, and whats the best way to store until usable?

Waka
 

Chris Knight

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Waka,

Any size you want? - go for a 100 feet lengths by 6ft wide!

Seriously, how large is the tree? That will determine to a large extent what you can do with it and how you cut and dry it. Is it in good condition - ie straight trunk, no obvious rot etc?

Air drying is not difficult and the wood may well be worth the effort, given its rarity these days. But, meanwhile as a cautionary tale:- http://www.finefurnituremaker.com/publi ... part_2.htm
 

Waka

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Chris

Thanks for the link, looks like it can be expensive if its not cured right.

The tree has not come down yet so I've not had a chance to see what the wood is like. Any idea what I should look for in the colour, I did hear that if its two young it won't show the nice dark grain, but I think this is only hearsay.

Any help is appreciated, free wood is always a bonus.

Waka
 

Chris Knight

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Waka,

English walnut (which is actually not a native english tree at all but rather a native of Persia!) is very variable in colouration. and figure. It is also susceptible to shakes and a variety of things that make it difficult to get big usable pieces - unlike say an oak tree or black walnut.

The sapwood can be very pale, almost white in colour and is softer than the heartwood. I wouldn't expect a lot of heartwood in a twenty year old tree to be honest so there may be a lot of wood paler than you would like.

It is always worth experimenting a bit by planing and oiling a piece before deciding what to do with it. Walnut can be subtle and surprising(usually for the better!) in the way it displays its character once it has received a finish and I have learnt not to be too quick in writing off a piece that I initially felt lacked character.

It responds wonderfully well to staining with van Dyke crystals - hardly surprising as these were originally from walnut husks (which you can still make a great dye from). A van Dyke stain matches the darker wood perfectly and if the sapwood is objectionable, such a stain can be used to blend it in.

Walnut works out at around £85 per cubic foot and you have to figure in a wastage factor as high as 50% - depending on what you are making and how good the wood was initially, so as you say, a free tree has to be a bargain!
 

Waka

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Chris

Thanks once again for the info. I'll get some photos taken of the sap and heartwood when they take the tree down.

One other question regarding planking the trunk, is it acceptable to run it out with a chain saw to get the rough boards? I understand from my friend that the guy taking it down will leave the wood any way he wants, even if its short lengths is will be usable for some thing.
 

Chris Knight

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Waka,

A chainsaw is likely the only way to plank a (presumably small) tree like this that will make economic sense. No-one will want to mill it with proper gear for anything less than a lot of money! Equally, hiring a portable milling rig is unlikely to be cheap but maybe worth checking on. (These tend to be chainsaw based but do have a guide system to keep the saw on track).

A chainsaw is of course relatively wasteful but if whoever does it is careful, it needn't be too bad. I suggest you get it down to a size that you can then deal with yourself or take to a friend's big bandsaw, so aim for three or four inch thick slabs. That way, a smaller number of (inevitably) inaccurate cuts will have to be made with less wastage than if you tried for thinner planks.
 

Aragorn

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I can't bear the thought of all the waste from using a chainsaw on such rare and lovely wood! You'd be turning half of it into sawdust!

There's a forest near where I live (National Trust I think) where the people that manage the woodland run regular fairs. They demonstrate amongst other things pole lathes and carving and they have a demonstration with a petrol powered milling machine. The shire horses drag the trunks from the woodland to the mill and they cut it into planks.

Reason I mention it is that maybe there is something similar near you? You may be able to get your timber planked for free if it's part of a demonstration :idea:
 

Waka

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Chris/Aragorn

Thanks once again.

I know there will be some wastage from using a chain saw, the nearest saw mill to me is Yandles which is about an hour away. I'll talk to them and see what it will cost, then I'll have to add hiring transport etc.

In the end it might just be cheaper to slice it with a chain saw and except the wastage, afterall its all free. Might even be able to offer free bowl blanks to anyone who is prepared to pick them up. I'll let you all know when the tree is down and in my pocession.

Now I might have justification to go buy a chain saw.
 

gidon

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Waka
I always see these chaps at county shows etc with their mobile saw mill:
http://www.anton-coaker.co.uk
Probably a bit far for them / you but may be of interest. I must get around to trying their wood ...
I would probably go the chainsaw route myself - always fancied having a go at that. This may be of interest - available on Ebay:
http://www.beammachine.com/
Cheers
Gidon
 

dickm

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The easy answer is the chainsaw method, but you will need a special chain to make a tidy job of it. Normal chains are basically crosscut, and don't rip well. The portable chain mills that some foresters use are equipped with the appropriate chains.
If it's only 20 years old, you probably <could> split it into two with axe and wedges, then plank it on a larger (8" or similar) ordinary bandsaw, which would be much less wasteful
 
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Anonymous

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Happy to see this thread, as a friend of ours has a large walnut tree in her garden which is now seriously threatening her house. It's about 40 years old, so should have some good wood in it -- I can see that there's a good 10-12 foot run in the main trunk before any split. It's so big it has to come down by next summer at the latest, and I was wondering about getting hold of the wood. There's a (reasonably) local sawmill who might plank it for me, but getting it there is quite another problem -- about 4 miles away and I don't have an SUV or similar, nor do I know anyone with one. Those trunks are heavy I believe! Thanks for the comments. all the same. Next question is, of course, where can I find someone with a kiln to dry it????

The real question - what should I pay her for the wood, given that I'll contribute to the tree coming down? Any ideas?
 

Waka

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Brian

40 years old should give you some really nice wood. Not to sure how much you should pay, I guess it depends onwhat they would have done with the wood othert han you having it.

Here's a couple of pic's of the 20 years old, if nothing more I shouild get a lot of bowl blanks out of it.





 
A

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Definitely some nice bowl blanks in that one!

I was thinking of £10 a cube for useable wood. If it's not bought it'll go on her fire (AAARRRGGGGGHH!).
 
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