Special black walnut

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Forum topic by newwoodbutcher posted 01-01-2018 06:40 AM 915 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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817 posts in 3706 days

01-01-2018 06:40 AM

I’m new at this. I live in San Diego county, my dear brother in law who lives in eastern Iowa wants to drive a load (200 BF) of local premium black walnut lumber that I will pay for out to me from Eastern Iowa next month. I don’t know how to ask for what I want. A few years ago we all toured some local saw mills in eastern Iowa and I saw some truly magnificent black walnut. Some of it was purple in color and very rich looking. I’ve never seen Walnut like that before. One piece was coveted by the sawmill operator in his office. If I would have been in a pickup instead of a rental car I would have scored some amazing material. This time may be my last chance to import this premium material. So my brother in law is shopping around but he is not an expert. The best description I have so far is: Clear Heart 2 sides, not steamed, air dried if possible, kiln dried if that’s what’s available. With regard to size, I would prefer thick material but hardly ever see any thicker than 8/4. When I asked for 12/4 one yard responded with Cants, which I think is a lower grade material than I’m looking for. My thinking is we should go to a saw mill instead of a lumber yard, but I can’t really explain why. So can you folks help me? Where can I find and how do I identify that special Black Walnut lumber that seldom gets out of the county where it is milled?

-- Ken

7 replies so far

View sepeck's profile


440 posts in 2997 days

#1 posted 01-01-2018 08:00 AM

In Sacramento, Millers Milling does Black Walnut ( you could call and ask him. He’s really approachable.
Also, there is a NorCal Sawyers Network page on Facebook, they might know of someone closer to you. Same state at least.

Lastly, there is a thread linked here with the same question you could check out the answers for:

-- -Steven Peck,

View sawdustdad's profile


379 posts in 1741 days

#2 posted 01-01-2018 01:57 PM

If you buy it from a sawmill, it may not be graded, so that would be a question to ask. It will also be green unless they also have a drying facility. Buying lumber long distance would call for use of industry standard criteria from a reputable dealer—so I’d specify FAS lumber. Unfortunately, Walnut grading allows sapwood, but I won’t allow it in anything I build. So you might advise your BIL to cull out any boards with sapwood.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View Kazooman's profile


1540 posts in 2809 days

#3 posted 01-01-2018 02:31 PM

The California Agricultural Inspectors at the border might give you a hassle. You can’t being firewood into the state. If they decide that your beautiful rough sawn walnut looks like firewood to them you might be turned away.

View tomsteve's profile


1070 posts in 2075 days

#4 posted 01-01-2018 03:10 PM

. Where can I find and how do I identify that special Black Walnut lumber that seldom gets out of the county where it is milled?

- newwoodbutcher

seems if ya exactly what ya want , it would be wise to go to iowa and pick what ya want.
or find pictures online to show BIL what your lookin for and no matter what it turns out to be, thank him for delivering.
maybe even be on the phone with one them camera things while hes there to see what hes lookin at

View a1Jim's profile


118136 posts in 4433 days

#5 posted 01-01-2018 04:08 PM

I noted one area you seem to be in conflict about, in that you liked the purple look of the walnut you saw but did not want it steamed that’s what causes walnut to have that purple look you said you like.
Your right most retail suppliers do not sell hardwood so a sawmill of hardwood supplier is where you want to look for what you want. Sometimes you can find hardwood for sale on Craigslist If you’re not experienced with buying hardwood newly sawn wood(wet or high moisture content wood) sells for far less than dry wood (6-8% moisture content). I would say how you want your wood milled has a lot to do with what equipment you have to mill it after you buy it.

This might help


View avsmusic1's profile


662 posts in 1541 days

#6 posted 01-02-2018 06:42 PM

Is this worth it for 200 bd ft? Lets say you’d spend $10 a bd ft in CA for something that would cost $3 in Iowa – That’s a $1400 savings on the wood purchase but I have to think it’s close to a 2k mile drive each way so you’re going to eat up half that savings as fuel alone – more if it’s an especially large truck or you had to rent something. That doesn’t include any tolls or other costs either. Plus two multi-day trips across country for your family member (hotel costs?), the potential hassles (costs?) with bringing wood across state lines, and the risks of having someone else pick the wood for you.

Seems like a lot of hassle and risk for a fairly marginal savings in the end

View Knockonit's profile


693 posts in 1058 days

#7 posted 01-02-2018 07:07 PM

200 bf of lumber is not a lot of lumber to haul, pending size and length of course.
easily fit in a pick up truck bed, and if just a visiting trip, well the hauling of wood is just extra load.

I feel your pain, getting reasonably priced wood here in south west is tough no matter what, and decent figured is even harder.

good luck
Rj in az

-- Living the dream

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