Greenwood Mantels

Sawn, sealed, and installed when green, a large-dimension timber mantel should perform well. October 25, 2006

I have a customer requesting that I cut a mantel piece 8' long x 4" thick x 8" wide. First, is walnut a good wood for mantels? Second, would he ever be able to dry this to an acceptable moisture content without a kiln?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor D:
My father has a mantel of similar dimensions cut from green white oak. The mantel has been in place for 25 + years and still looks great. There is some checking and a little bow on one end that has a large knot, but other than that it hasn't moved too much. Setting the right expectation with your customer could be your first approach, as it is not realistic to have a solid mantle dry to a consistent MC of 6-8% throughout.

From contributor J:
I cut a walnut mantel that was 4 x 6 x 8. I sealed it fairly green with paste wax. It's about fifteen years old now and not a crack in it.

From contributor B:
We regularly sell green mantels and I think it is important to follow basic "parallel to the grain" sawing patterns. Box heart is okay from small diameter logs, but quartersawn should draw a premium and is what you want to minimize checks (though it takes twice the log). If you saw it well and seal it up well, it will do well. Green mantels do best when they are not subjected to the sudden change in RH that comes in the fall when the heater is turned on. Think shrink (to the wall for q-sawn, thickness for flat sawn).