Something interesting about walnut logs

September 25, 2008

This week I have skidded a number of smaller black walnut logs out of the woodlot as I found them during the walnut harvest.  They had sat where they fell for two summers after the improvement cut of the winter of 2006-2007.  When I unloaded them off the trailer the bark peeled easily and thus the moderate scuffing on one end from dragging behind the loader did not amount to a problem for George Sheffield and his band mill.

The surprise was when we cut the first slabs.  Generally a walnut log shows a distressing band of bright white sapwood on the first cut, and it seems to go half-way through the log.  Not so with these specimens which had sat for two summers.  The sapwood was barely detectable.  George speculated that the pigments must blend or else the white pigment fades over time if the logs aren’t sawn immediately.

The logs sawed very easily and produced fine, straight boards and planks.  It’s not hard to see why cabinetmakers regard walnut as the king of the cabinet woods.  My immediate objective was to get some material from which to build a bannister for the stone house.  We cut three 2 1/4″ planks from one log which should fill the bill, though I don’t know if Bet will wait three years for them to dry or if I’ll have to bang out a temporary railing out of pine.

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