Whether to Saw Old Walnut Logs

Even if it has been down for years, a big walnut log can yield valuable wood. August 30, 2007

Well, once again I'm relying on your collective sage wisdom. Is it worthwhile to mill a walnut tree that was cut 3 years ago? It's been sitting on gravel, and I do not want to waste my time on the log if it is degraded. Do they check like oak, or do they dry out like redwood? Anyone have success slabbing old seasoned logs? What logs would still be okay for milling if they had been stored for a while?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor J:
I have sawed old walnut. Sometimes the sapwood is gone due to rot or insects, but the heartwood is good. The only way to find out is to saw it. I would saw it up for turning even if it wasn't good enough for lumber.

From contributor E:
I milled three black walnut logs last week that had sat for 2 or 3 summers. None of the boards seemed at all punky. They were a beautiful combination of green and brown coming off the mill. They are now stickered and in line for the kiln. From what I can see between stickered layers, the green has disappeared. It looks like normal walnut.

From contributor T:
How big is the log? If the ends are solid, go for it. Even if there is a rot spot, it may be worth the time. Walnut rot tends to be cone shaped and stay small.

About two months ago a customer brought me a walnut log about 5' long x 24" diameter at the base x 36" diameter at the top with a crotch. The tree was cut down in 1992. He stored the log in his garage for just about 15 years! He knew it was worth something and just couldn't find somebody to cut it until he heard I have a chainsaw mill.

The sapwood had turned dark and soaked colors from the heartwood, and the heartwood was the darkest I have ever seen. The boards were beautiful and fairly dry. There were ants in the very core, but they only ate away a fairly large bark inclusion that ran down the very center of the crotch. The outer crotch wood was a perfect three foot long herringbone figure.

I don't know if your log is degraded because it is outside, but I believe it is well worth your time. I think that any walnut log bigger than 16" or so is well worth the time to saw. If it turns out to have ants (which I doubt), it will be a valuable experience.

From contributor R:
Saw it. Metal and sapwood degrade is all I'd expect to find.