Free Black Walnut... what to do with it??

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Blog entry by PeterDominic1983 posted 06-24-2016 03:41 AM 1651 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I found a woman on craigslist who was giving a black walnut tree away for free! Through many emails and texts, I finally got the go ahead to pick it up…

Her original post said that her tree servicer would cut it to specific length, if desired. I tried to get her to have him cut the tree into 6-8’ logs. However, what actually happened was the tree guy came while the woman was on vacation, and cut them into 2’ logs… I took them anyway, seeing as I am a beginner, and a trees worth of free black walnut seemed worth the leg work to me!!

So here is a picture of the original pile:

Here is my driveway (in front of my ‘almost-functioning-woodshop’ garage)...

Took two trips bc I used a van and I didn’t want to destroy the suspension!!

After trip 1:

And currently, the bulk of it all (minus 3 logs I gave my buddy to hack at and try to mill with a freehand chainsaw!!)


If anyone has suggestions, I would LOVE to hear them all! My intentions are kind of all over the place for these…

I know what I will be doing with some of them – I am thinking squaring, and ripping into 2” x 2” blanks. I plan on using the blanks on a little lathe I’m going to purchase soon… they’ll be used for make some handles for old hand tools I found in the garage (drawknife), making a couple handles for extra slim triple triple files I use to sharpen backsaws and larger handsaws, and ill also use a couple blanks for make handles for some joiners’ mallets I am in the process of refining (just for a color contrast to the oak mallet heads, really).

But, I’m not totally sure what the best uses would be for smaller lengths like this. I could use various joinery to make carcass sides I guess, but the grain wouldn’t match up too well… I could also turn some of them to make cabinet or table legs perhaps?

I don’t know! Anyone have suggestions or ideas? Id love to hear others’ experiences milling and utilizing smaller logs such as these… Please don’t tell me “firewood” or something sacrilegious like that!

Thanks again for any suggestions, thoughts, or ideas!


-- PeterDominic1983 Lower Bucks, Bensalem, PA

8 comments so far

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 2059 days

#1 posted 06-24-2016 04:03 AM

Get it debarked and planked. Its been cut for firewood and that is probably what it is best for. If it was dead, split it now and you can try to make short boards out of it. The effort required multiplies every time he cut it. Try to plank one stump and see how it works.


-- Madmark - [email protected]

View PeterDominic1983's profile


15 posts in 1346 days

#2 posted 06-24-2016 04:10 AM

Madmark thanks for the suggestions! It wasn’t dead, so my understanding is it should turn nicely on a lathe… Is that right? Not sure if it will split nicely or not… When u say plank it, you mean split it with axe and/or wedge? Or saw it?

-- PeterDominic1983 Lower Bucks, Bensalem, PA

View WhoMe's profile


1568 posts in 3850 days

#3 posted 06-24-2016 05:25 AM

Latex paint, wood pore sealer, something that will seal the end grain.
You want to seal the end so the logs dry slowly ands semi evenly ass possible.
I already see checking cracks. You want to minimize the cracking as this will truce the amount of usable wood you have there.
Planking and stickering the wood on what you want for boards should be done sooner than later (still sealing the end grain) as this will allow faster drying.
The goal is to minimize how much of that wood becomes unusable for your projects and would be destined to the fireplace.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View CFrye's profile


10823 posts in 2446 days

#4 posted 06-24-2016 05:45 AM

That’s a whole lotta bowl blanks! Do you have a lathe? Seal the ends ASAP! to prevent checking. Anchor Seal, wax, or even latex paint if that’s all you can get. Walnut is a terrible thing to waste!
Edit: Whome types faster then I.

-- God bless, Candy

View HokieKen's profile


12001 posts in 1745 days

#5 posted 06-24-2016 12:58 PM

I’ll say it again, SEAL THE ENDS NOW! It’s already checking so get it done ASAP. Then, cut the sapwood off leaving only the heartwood to speed the drying process. If you know what pieces you want in turning blanks, cut the blanks to rough size. The rest, I would just split in half or quarter until you know what you’re going to use it for. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will dry. I would leave the crotchwood pieces whole other than removing the sapwood. They will be very hard and strong and may have some nice figure. I wouldn’t cut them down until you’re ready to use them. Nice score on the free wood! You should get some excellent turning wood out of it.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View leafherder's profile


1889 posts in 2559 days

#6 posted 06-24-2016 06:44 PM

If you want boards get it milled as soon as possible – still need to seal ends while it dries.

Project ideas for pieces this size – cut some into thin slabs – leave the bark on – they make great clock faces and cutting as thin as possible helps reduce cracking as it dries. Can also cut slabs on an angle for oval pieces for same use – another hint—longer ovals crack less than circular slabs.

Also get out a chainsaw and cut the larger trunk pieces into stools (3 or 4 legs) or foot stools – hard to keep the bark on these but they make great rustic accent furniture. They will still crack as they dry but the cracks can be filled with resin or inlace.

You have plenty to experiment with so have fun and be creative.

-- Leafherder

View firefighterontheside's profile


20749 posts in 2463 days

#7 posted 06-24-2016 08:40 PM

Go kick that tree service guy square in the…....well you know.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2811 days

#8 posted 06-27-2016 01:36 AM

Well once the timber is seasoned you could put your furniture making skills to work

-- Regards Rob

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