What Good Are Small Walnut Logs?

Sawmillers discuss what sort of useful product you can make out of 10-inch diameter Walnut logs. February 17, 2012

I received a call yesterday from a friend who offered me a bunch of 10"-12" walnut logs if I want them. I want them, don't I? What is the smallest log I can expect to get decent wood out of? What width board could you expect to get out of a 10" log?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
Even if they are butt cuts, you will only get a few (3 or 4) 1x6's that will be of much account and the rest will be low grade. I saw it into 8/4 and sell it for flower beds. If the logs are already down, try to salvage what you can. Chances are they are tops and leftovers from a walnut buy. Saw them through and through or into ovals and sell them to crafters.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the reply. The trees are still standing and the land owner is thinning his trees. I was thinking about cutting them into 12/4 leg blanks. I make reproduction furniture and those things are worth their weight in gold. Cabriole legs take at least a 12/4. I also was thinking about maybe some large turning blanks. I've had several people tell me that the turners can't get blanks that are tall for reasonable prices. It seems that would be something you could do with the shorts from the top of the butt log.

Also, what do you think about cutting shorts into 12/4 leg blanks? Is anybody out there chasing that niche? I have priced them on the net in excess of $50.00 each in walnut and cherry. I know it would take a while to dry them, but it might beat them being used for firewood.

And what is an oval?

From contributor A:

An oval is when you saw the log as a diagonal slice. It is not hard to do with a hydraulic WM mill.

From the original questioner:

When I pick up my mill they're going to give me a day of instruction on use and maintenance. I'll ask if that's possible with their mill. What do you sell the ovals for and are they green or dried?

From contributor E:
I turn bowls out of small walnut logs. I include the sapwood for contrast and it always makes for interesting bowls that sell well. I never turn down walnut logs.

From contributor P:
I have sold several 10'' to 12'' logs for $1.50 bdft as of late. I know that is not setting the world on fire, but those logs are worth messing with in my opinion. When I cut a tree, if I can get another small log down to 8", I will cut it and bring it home to saw. I already have spent the tree to get the bigger logs out of it, so why not?

From contributor A:
On a hydraulic mill you can clamp it and just saw them off. Most of the time I start with about a 4 ft log and make ovals from 1 to 3 ft long. The longer the oval, the fewer you get from the log, so the more I charge. A walnut oval that is about 10 inches wide and 2 ft long sells for $5.00. I have a trick for drying to prevent checking for the most part. Slow is key.

Turners generally do not pay much for turning stock. Bowl cuts only take 4 cuts on the log, then cut to length, then sealed all around.

From contributor T:
Sure you can cut a 12/4 stock out of walnuts that small, but I don't think you're going to meet the grade required for a project like a cabriole leg. It may depend on the soil conditions of where the walnut grew. If the bark is knobby it's likely to be good with little sapwood, but if the bark looks like an ash tree, there's going to be a ton of sapwood. Logs like these can always be salvaged or utilized - it's a matter of how creative you can be in networking and marketing.