1000 bf of Walnut for sale. Asking for advice.

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Forum topic by Sellinglumber posted 02-13-2018 08:18 AM 1695 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 911 days

02-13-2018 08:18 AM


This is my first post, but I’ve enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful projects on LJ for years. I am new to the game of selling lumber, but recently I had a beautiful walnut tree milled by the amish. I have 2 pieces 4” thick x 19’ long x 24” wide. I have about 1000 bf air drying. My buddy and I are going to build a kiln. I have bought walnut from $8-$10 a bf. I don’t know if that’s a good price or if one of these larger slabs should be priced higher or lower due to the size.

Again, I’m new to the game and any advice about pricing, where to list or how to sell would be appreciated.

Recently we built a beautiful kitchen table from old barn wood. We’ve considered using this walnut to build a sample table and see if it’s easy to sell. If so we may use some of the walnut for this purpose.

Thanks in advance for the advice.

14 replies so far

View JoshNZ's profile


133 posts in 1877 days

#1 posted 02-13-2018 10:23 AM

Sure is pretty! What a stack, I’m jealous haha.

No idea about pricing sorry. One thought that came to mind, I have seen figured rifle stocks for sale in NZ for several hundred dollars each, some as high as $600NZ for a nice figured one. You have some pretty neat grain in that slab in the first photo, maybe it’s something to consider.

Best of luck, looks destined to be beautiful whatever happens to it!

View knotscott's profile


8382 posts in 4183 days

#2 posted 02-13-2018 11:24 AM

I’d browse around some of the lumber retail and wholesale shops in your area to get an idea of current prices. AFAIK larger boards typically get a premium over smaller boards, but a lot can depend on the grade and beauty of the wood.

That is some nice looking walnut from what I can see in the pics

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View avsmusic1's profile


652 posts in 1493 days

#3 posted 02-13-2018 01:26 PM


Where are you located? I suspect SoCal prices for something like this are probably a lot higher than rural VT.

I agree with the prior point that typically larger pieces fetch higher prices per bd ft but, over a certain threshold, you may also limit your market. Someone building a huge conference table may need 16’+ but a homeowner (or someone building for one) probably needs more like 8-10’ – potentially with limited access to something that can haul a 19’ slab that size.

My gut tells me that you don’t touch those giant pieces till the right buyer comes along – if you wanted to make something with some o the wood to show it off a bit, do so with smaller pieces.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3322 days

#4 posted 02-13-2018 01:36 PM

I tend to agree with avsmusic1.
Here in SE Tennessee, I routinely buy great looking walnut for anywhere from $3 to $5.25 a board foot, but if I want to get ripped off, there are sellers around me selling it for $9-11 a board foot.

As far as the big planks, my local Woodcraft had three raw edged planks, 2” thick, up to 24” wide, about 6 ft. long, and they sold those for about $275 each. But I think they underpriced them, as they lasted about two days and gone. Most of the local millers who deal in big lumber like that want much more.

It depends on where you are. Kiln dry helps, but a lot of people, (including me), will jump on a load that has air dryed off the tree for a number of years before buying kiln dry. It takes some of the color out, and after about two weeks out of the kiln, it stabilizes with the local conditions anyway.

The latest load I bought came from a Mennonite who made railroad ties, and saved all the planks from the trees as he took ties out of the trees. He sold it to a guy who thought he would make a killing off it. Nine years off the tree, purples and browns like you never saw, lots of quilt, flame, etc. Picked up about 150 bd. ft. for $3 a bd. ft.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View chrisstef's profile


18098 posts in 3814 days

#5 posted 02-13-2018 01:38 PM

Im with music. Id sit on those large slabs until the right guy showed up. Id venture to guess theyd go for $2k a pop. I would aim for someone in the commercial millwork world. Youve got 152 bf per board!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Sellinglumber's profile


3 posts in 911 days

#6 posted 02-13-2018 01:48 PM

Thank you all for your help and advice. I live in Southern Maryland. I have 2 of those large 4” thick slabs. The others are still huge, but they are about 2” thick. I really think it was great advice to wait for the right buyer for the larger pieces. You could butterfly the large slab and have a 2” thick bookmatched 19’ long conference table.

I may end up air drying if it helps. I’ve been discussing building a kiln with a friend, but we’ve used walnut that we air dryed in the past and the projects turned out great. I’m not going anywhere. I don’t mind letting it dry naturally.

Thanks again!

View Aj2's profile


3187 posts in 2605 days

#7 posted 02-13-2018 02:49 PM

I also agree to wait for them to air dry. Walnut can lose some of its colors if you send them to a kiln, since your slab don’t show any sapwood let them air dry.
Looks like you have enough to build a table and chairs a whole dining set.

-- Aj

View d38's profile


142 posts in 1070 days

#8 posted 02-13-2018 05:21 PM

My Grandpa if south Minnesota got walnut logs from area farm groves, but never anything that size!
Agree with others, hold out for someone who really needs something that size (and in the mean time, try to figure out a pricing strategy).

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1624 days

#9 posted 02-13-2018 06:01 PM

Tennessee, I would like to know where you buy your walnut if you don’t mind sharing.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 2277 days

#10 posted 02-13-2018 06:18 PM

Another thing to consider, especially with pieces that large, is that an architect / designer may be interested in the whole lot for a larger commercial project. So if you can afford the space it takes up (looks like you can), then hold on to all the pieces as a group for a buyer that wants a lot of matching wood.

You may even approach some architect/design firms in your area and see if they’re interested. Sometimes, “money is no object”, and their client just wants something absolutely stunning. Casinos, hotels, large office buildings, fancy restaraunts, etc.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View AandCstyle's profile


3283 posts in 3065 days

#11 posted 02-13-2018 10:20 PM

When my son bought a walnut slab in Chantilly, VA, he paid $100 per linear foot. You can see it here. HTH

-- Art

View Sellinglumber's profile


3 posts in 911 days

#12 posted 02-15-2018 12:27 AM

Good idea William. Art that was a pretty slab. Thanks for the info regarding pricing.

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3284 days

#13 posted 02-15-2018 02:25 PM

I sell a lot of thick, live edge walnut slabs. They are kiln dried to 8%, flattened perfectly flat, and planed. I sell them for $12/bf. If you think that is a rip off, go buy some walnut logs, then buy a sawmill, a big tractor, build you some air drying sheds, build a dry kiln, add a big planer and a planer room, a climate controlled building to house the kiln dried slabs, and take a shot at it on your own.

You cannot compare a green walnut slab that is recently sawed to a slab that has been air dried for a year, then kiln dried to less than 10%, then flattened, and planed. A lot happens between green off the sawmill and perfectly dry and flat. If you have ever taken a warped walnut slab and tried to flatten it, you will know what I mean. There can be a good bit of loss and downgrade from green to dry and flat.

There is a wholesale market for hardwood lumber, and there is a pricing report, called the Hardwood Market Report that reports the average price of hardwood that sold last week in tractor trailer loads. Last week the average wholesale price for a tractor trailer load of 8/4 kiln dried walnut was $5/ bf for FAS. That is loaded on the truck at the mill, unplaned, i.e. rough sawn, and does not include transportation/freight. That is not for one board, but for 5000 BF quantity. It is up to you as a business to understand your market, and if sawyers want to undersell themselves cheap, then that is their choice. Kinda like selling a house for half its market value, most informed sellers choose not to do that.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3322 days

#14 posted 02-15-2018 06:04 PM

The secret is to keep your eyes and ears open, and look in odd places where you would not think to look.
My last two loads of walnut, one came from Craigslist, and one from the Tennessee Trader.
The Craigslist load was the guy who had the air dried lumber, nine years off the tree. He had to pay for the ad, other lumber suppliers in the Material section kept tagging his ad and CL kept shutting it down, and he wasn’t selling anything. I found it the day it was up and paid for, but said it was originally posted 27 days previous. I called thinking he must have just forgotten to take it down, and was stunned to hear he was still sitting on all this lumber, most of it for sale in the $3 range. He had walnut, cherry, hickory and oak. When I finally met up with him, he had it tucked away in an old garage in lower Chattanooga, the St. Elmo district. Just crazy.

I bought as much as I could afford, and I saw about a month later he put all the remaining up for a one load price. It was around $2.69 bd. ft. for the remaining. It sold in two days.

The Tennessee Trader, that is an odd thing. There are a lot of guys running mills out in the sticks, close to the Smokie Mountain National Forest, some in North Georgia. A few of them put ads in the Tennessee Trader. Found a load in a small town about 30 miles SE of here, in the mountains. After haggling, bought all I could carry.

Lastly, although I have not hit this yet, I have had a couple friends do well by hitting Estate Sales. (NOT garage sales) Turns out a lot of old guys who pass have stashes, and the estate people generally don’t know what to do with the lumber. They sell tools and stuff like that, but lumber is not something a lot of people are interested in. Had one friend sell me some walnut from a load he found at an estate sale. Man, was it nice stuff.
One other found a complete truckload of cherry, years old, rough sawn, mostly 12-15” wide planks, all about 8’ to 10’ long. I think he said he paid about $200 for it all.

So it is out there, but you have to keep cash in hand, and keep your eyes open. Also, be able to take on a couple hundred board feet if necessary, rather than have to pass on it since you don’t have decent storage.

One thing I have found, hitting up independents and private people with mills and other stashes – Showing cash in hand while there will almost always lower the price. Doesn’t work for businesses, they have all the usual overhead, but get some guy who mills in his back yard, or in a barn, and you can do some deals.

One last thing…when cabinet shops or other woodworking businesses shut down, sometimes they bring in a dumpster to clean out the business. I stuck my head over the edge of a big dumpster one day a few years back at a cabinet shop that had folded, and saw about 200 bd. ft. of 3/4” birch ply, beautiful stuff, lots of big cutoffs. Filled my Suburban and have made so many things out of that plywood over the years. And that was free! You just never know!

Here’s an example I found today.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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