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Quick question on prepping walnut log sections

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First, I did search for info on this and found most of the answers I was looking for. I just received several sections from the trunk of an 18" diameter walnut tree and need to do some studying before I process them, but I'm wondering how urgent it is to get the piths out. I just finished ripping a bunch of choke cherry trunk sections, cuz I know fruit woods are prone to cracking and you need to get the piths out quick, What about walnut? Can I let them sit for a few days or should I get out there and rip them now? Just seal the ends and not worry about it for now? Other than rolling them around, there's no way to move some of them, so those will have to be halved just to be able get them where I want 'em.
 
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Ric-I'm slowly processing a bunch of fresh-cut black walnut as time allows. I've got about six 12ish" diameter logs cut and rounded into blanks, and another 6 or so whole logs standing up beside my bandsaw for a couple of weeks waiting for me to get that ever-elusive "roundtuit." The ends are sealed with AnchorSeal. They haven't cracked yet. If they can make it to next Friday when we start Spring Break, I should be able to get them done.

That said, I was advised to cut them up, round into blanks, and rough-turn them asap, and will do exactly that if I see cracks developing. Black walnut is like gold around here.
 
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I saw walnut lumber, live edge slabs, and yes turning wood weekly on my sawmill. From the day the tree dies, the lumber starts on a slow degrade. How much is anybody's guess. I've sawn 10 year old logs that made good lumber, would have been better if fresh.

If it was my wood I would process asap. Ya gotta do it sooner or later anyhow, so why not now?

IMG_4069.JPGIMG_4122.JPG
 
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Ontario, CA
I agree with Larry. If you deem walnut to be valuable, then preventing any checking and degrade is worth it. The bowl blanks in the photo were sealed the next day after sawing. Getting rid of the pith will go a long way to reduce checking.
 

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Joined
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I saw walnut lumber, live edge slabs, and yes turning wood weekly on my sawmill. From the day the tree dies, the lumber starts on a slow degrade. How much is anybody's guess. I've sawn 10 year old logs that made good lumber, would have been better if fresh.

If it was my wood I would process asap. Ya gotta do it sooner or later anyhow, so why not now?

View attachment 37936View attachment 37937
That is gorgeous walnut, Larry! I've got a similar slab drying that is going to be my dream coffee table and end table when it's ready to work.
 

hockenbery

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18” diameter - I would do one rip cut through the pith. i look at both ends of the log section for uniformity or lack there of. Pick a cut line that gives the best blank I can see on one side. for cut rim bowls I look for circles about a pith centered from side to side. For NE bowls I usually want the pith in the center but look for non circular bark contours.

once I have decided on my cut line I lay the log section on a notched log section. Mark one end by touching the saw to it directly above the pith. Cutting from the other side I line the bar above the pith on my side to the mark on the other end and rip straight down.
I coat the ends a stack in the shade. The cut blanks on the bandsaw just before turning. i Discard any end checks usually less than 2” on either end

if the other half is not a good blank for me I cut it into turning squares 1,2,3“ and dry them for finials, balls, pepper mills, boxes, gavels, tool handles.....

i Like the white sap ring in walnut. It starts to deteriorate quickly.

that said I did eventually get a wind blown walnut that was down for about 5 years mostly off the ground.
the sapwood was gone but the heartwood was in great shape.
 
Joined
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18” diameter - I would do one rip cut through the pith. i look at both ends of the log section for uniformity or lack there of. Pick a cut line that gives the best blank I can see on one side. for cut rim bowls I look for circles about a pith centered from side to side. For NE bowls I usually want the pith in the center but look for non circular bark contours.

once I have decided on my cut line I lay the log section on a notched log section. Mark one end by touching the saw to it directly above the pith. Cutting from the other side I line the bar above the pith on my side to the mark on the other end and rip straight down.
I coat the ends a stack in the shade. The cut blanks on the bandsaw just before turning. i Discard any end checks usually less than 2” on either end

if the other half is not a good blank for me I cut it into turning squares 1,2,3“ and dry them for finials, balls, pepper mills, boxes, gavels, tool handles.....

i Like the white sap ring in walnut. It starts to deteriorate quickly.

that said I did eventually get a wind blown walnut that was down for about 5 years mostly off the ground.
the sapwood was gone but the heartwood was in great shape.
That's pretty much what I just did. On the ones that where fairly even I did a cut through the pith. There were a few that were slightly odd because of 2nd piths or bark inclusions or uneven shape where I either optimized one side and let the other be however it turned out and will use them for squares. I was mainly concerned because I didn't think I'd get to them this weekend, but I was able to cut them today and will seal the ends tomorrow.

I usually remove the pith and then seal the endgrain. I don't round them until I'm going to turn them. I leave the logs at least a couple of inches longer so if there's any checking i can usually cut it away.
That's what I'm planning to do with this stuff too. In the past 3 months I've gone from a dwindling supply of wood to more than I have time to process and rough turn, but I'm certainly not complaining. Lately every time I thought I was done processing logs and can take a break, I've ended up with more wood. Nice problem to have and the exercise has been really good for me.
 
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An opportune time for this thread as I have some walnut, cherry and other wood I need to process. I get cutting out the pith. in the past I would take a single pass with my chainsaw right down the middle of the pith. but I have also seen many who will make two cuts, one on each side of the pith. is that really nessesary?
 
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Necessary? Not always but on a larger log the pith is larger so in that case its necessary.
I'm not a huge fan of really deep bowls so a lot of the time I can make 2 cuts a couple of inches to either side of the pith and get either small bowl/platter blanks or spindle stock.
 
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I think I still prefer to keep logs in as long of sections as I can for as long as I can. By cutting it into shorter sections, you lose some off of both ends before you cut them into bowl blanks. Also, I think that there is always a crack that comes off of the pith. I prefer to let that crack develop and then cut the blank down the pith that way. Some times though, the cracks on either end of a blank can be 90 degrees to each other so I will cut them into spindle blanks. Most of the time they are within 10 or so degrees of each other.

robo hippy
 
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Walnut tends to have a fair amount of natural oils in the sap and wood which help preserve the log/wood over time. A walnut log can spend several years on the ground with the bark starting to pull away from the wood and still provide good slabs of cut wood. The sooner you process a log the better off you are getting ahead of all of the bugs and micro-organisms that are in a race to eat the log before you get it cut up. Many of the bugs burrowing into those cut trees are also laying eggs, as the tree ages you get more insects that are attracted to the aging wood. Kind of like an aged beef steak tastes better.
 
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Like Mike just said in my experience walnut will stay on the ground longer and still have useful wood longer than any other wood I have dealt with. I had some in the yard for 5 or 6 years and by then the yield was not too great but I could not store it inside at that time.

With walnut the bark will go in a few months . Sapwood will decay or be useless within 2 or 3 years. So depending on how bad you need the full log length and how much space you have .just seal the ends and go from there.
 

John Jordan

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Unless you are trying to dry it, don't cut it. Seal the ends and/or put it under a tarp. It will stay green inside for several years, although the nice white sapwood will stain in months and be bug eaten and rot after a year. The heartwood will last for a very long time. You need to identify what you want to do with the wood. There are some good articles on my website.

John
 
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Walnut Globe renamed.jpg
I can't speak for the bowl guys - perhaps removing the pith is necessary.
If you're planning on hollow-forms, no problem leaving the pith. A radial (face-turn) will position the pith at about mid-ways, depending on profile. Turning thick, boiling, and allowing a very slow dry will minimize cracks around or going through the pith. Boiling the rough will not prevent warping but it will reduce the cracking. The epoxy fill allows you to finish out a "drop-dead gorgeous" log without compromise. The picture I inserted is about 18" diameter and has several epoxy filled cracks.
Hate to say it but maybe trees were not designed around the needs of wood-turners - they have frustrating characteristics and are full of undefined surprises. I would guess that many of those "personal masterpieces" produced by members of this forum were the result of flaws/unexpected surprises that allowed creative solutions. Our job is to take this "less than perfect" material (for us turners) and create enduring works. The problem is not the pith - it's the cracks associated with the pith and they will "be with us always". While it makes perfect sense to talk about avoiding cracks, we also need to focus on how to address anomalies and enhance the work
 
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The plot thickens...
So, am I expecting too much of my bandsaw (Rikon 14" 10-324, 1.5hp w/new 3 tpi wide kerf Timberwolf blade) to cut green walnut? I got 2 blanks cut before the blade, wheels and grooved belt got so gummed up that it threw the drive belt. Now I'm still trying to scrub the crud off the wheels, belt idler wheel and blade, then reassemble and adjust the wheel brush closer to see if that'll help any. I was running it at 1450 ft/min, but it'll also run at 2900 ft/min. Am I better off running at low speed or high speed? Don't know that the speed would have much bearing on it gumming up, but I don't know that it wouldn't either. FWIW, the blade is only gummed up on the inner side, but that's probably because the other side doesn't get compressed against the wheels. Is there anything I can lube the blade with to reduce the sticky sawdust from adhering to the blade? Any helpful suggestions would be very welcome, because at this speed, the wood will be dry long before I can finish processing it.
 

Timothy Allen

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The Wonder Slick-Stick from Woodturners Wonders is supposed to work (wonders) on band-saw blades, among other things -- I just got some, but haven't had a chance to try it.

ETA - sometimes cutting some hard dry wood after cutting the green can be effective in removing much of the gunk...
 
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I’m doing some walnut now and run into the same issue. There seems to be a “just right” moisture content that leads to a really gummed up blade. I try waxing the blade and then just keep my finger crossed.
 
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I hold an old wood chisel up against the side of the blade and turn the wheel by hand to scrape off the gook. It works. I don't have a shortcut for taking the aggravation out of cleaning the wheels. I take a rag and DNA and rub until they feel smooth.
 
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I used mineral spirits and a green scotchbrite pad and got it cleaned up. Gonna try some mods/upgrades to the dust collection on the saw to get as much of the crud as possible before it gets compressed between the lower wheel and blade.
 
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One of Robo Hippy’s videos is on dust collection with the bandsaw. I used his strategy with my little old Delta 14” saw, cutting a 4” port in the lower door, and it has made a terrific improvement in clearing out dust from the saw case, around the wheels and tires, etc. I’m linked to a Jet 1 1/2 hp dust collector.
 
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Well, walnut, for what ever reasons seems to dull any cutting edge I use, much faster than any other wood I use. That could be part of the problem. Since I don't work walnut any more, I really don't know. Can't say that I remember walnut gumming up my blades. At least not nearly as much as madrone does.

I have tried cutting dry wood to clean the blade. The problem is gumming on the blade and not the teeth, so the teeth will get clean, but because they have a side set to them, I didn't get much benefit when trying to get the blade clean. Screw driver held against the blade, or painter's multi tool has a nice edge for scraping off gunk.

I really need to try Ken's Slick Stick. I am trying to get some madrone logs, but my supplier says all the timber fallers are cleaning up from all the fires, so there are almost no loggers working on the coast where the myrtle and madrone are harvested....

robo hippy
 
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Ric-I just cut up some big green black walnut logs on my very similar bandsaw setup: my new Rikon 10-326 14" inch with 1.75 hp on 110volts. I was on full speed with the same fresh blade, splitting some 12"-ish deep logs by about 10" wide-I thought the high speed might make it cut smoother like a higher speed on a lathe-seemed to work? Anyway, I got some "blade scream" on occasion if I tried to outrun the cut, but kept spraying both sides before every log with a shot of WD-40, and that seemed to smooth things out-kind of a redneck fix, I know, but it seemed to work? I got through it all more easily than I thought, though it took me a few tries to get my 1st TimberWolf set up according to their instructions, and it definitely dulled the blade! The mineral spirits on a rag got it pretty clean for me, but I'm sure the scotch-brite works better. I plan to put on the smaller blade before trying to round any more on my rough jig-I was definitely turning too tight a radius with a 3/4" blade! I hope y'all will bear with me-I'm new to cutting green logs on a band-saw; this is a far cry from cutting and shaping straight razor scales! Anyway, . I call green walnut "hairy" for how fibrous it is, and how it just grabs band-saw blades and other tools. That said, it is by far my favorite domestic hardwood.
Black Walnut Bowl Blanks.jpg

I got a selection of chain-saw files in various sizes to see if I can re-sharpen it a few times? Like everything else, I'm learing that from YouTube videos (though I am making a different post about a very productive 1st session with a mentor!). We will talk each other through this.

In other news, my arborist son brought home a big log of green pecan today with a big ol' burl on one side-he got a tomahawk ribeye off my grill for that!
 
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An opportune time for this thread as I have some walnut, cherry and other wood I need to process. I get cutting out the pith. in the past I would take a single pass with my chainsaw right down the middle of the pith. but I have also seen many who will make two cuts, one on each side of the pith. is that really nessesary?
If you make 2 cuts, the slice you take out of the center is lovely vertical-grained stock. It's great for utensils or cutting boards, and if the board is wide enough, you could also use the slab on either side of the pith for plates.
 
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If you make 2 cuts, the slice you take out of the center is lovely vertical-grained stock. It's great for utensils or cutting boards, and if the board is wide enough, you could also use the slab on either side of the pith for plates.
It is, Kalia-I've been taking that beautiful center cut of black walnut and giving it to my neighbor, who does flat-work, for any project he might use it on.
 
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And regarding bandsaw blade gunge from walnut or madrone, sometimes water is all you need. I've found that a juicy wet rag works faster than almost anything else (and I was trying solvents and scraping, too). Just hold a wadded up wet rag around the back side of the blade and slowly rotate the top wheel backward by hand. A wet scotch-brite can work well too. If it's not a huge hassle to remove your blade, you can coil it up and drop it into a dishpan with just enough water to cover it. A few minutes later all the gunge should just rinse off.
 
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I get grunge on the blade and wheels with some logs. I do what Kalia described: Unplug the bandsaw, rotate the top wheel backwards, with a green scotch brite pad pinched around the blade. Sometimes I "wet" the grunge with water on a paper towel first. And if it's stuck too tightly, a blade screwdriver pressed against the blade, behind the gullets of the saw. Scotchbrite + water works on the wheels too.

Walnut is one of the woods that can dull tools quickly, some say due to silica in wood, some say due to corrosiveness of the walnut to steel. Some logs are worse than others. I've never been able to figure out why.

As far as sharpening bandsaw blades, I've had good results using a dremel type rotary tool with a grinding bit like this.
1617880763232.png

Sharpen the blade on the saw (unplugged, again rotating by hand). Lightly touch the grinding bit on the top of each tooth, pulling from the back towards the tip of the tooth and pulling past the tip of the tooth. Try to match the angle of each tooth, accounting for the tooth set angle. The blades I use are set Left, Right, Left, Center, Right. I sharpen all the Lefts first, then all the Rights, then the Centers. I find that to be easier, less movement of the dremel tool than if I sharpened the teeth in order.
 
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Success. Made some real progress yesterday. I took a section of 2.5" shop vac tube, flattened about 6" of the end and fit in under the table right below the insert, connected it to a 2.5" split off the regular 4" DC line, use a 4"blast gate to adjust the balance between the two and it grabs almost all the debris right below the cut. Reduced any buildup on the blade and wheels to a great degree, and gave up trying to use the roller guides. Worked better with the side guides just opened up and reduced the blade build up even further. Found that running the saw at full speed cuts much better and the DC mod prevents the build up from happening too fast. Got 6 10" blanks cut before I hit a hidden 12p nail buried about 1" below the surface that instantly dulled the blade. Learned that it's not too hard to get the blade back to usable condition. Used an old card scraper to clean the blade a couple times and it worked really well. The test run yielded 8 large walnut bowl blanks, a few spindle blanks and a big pile of off cuts. Still have to figure out how to handle the off cuts to save them for burning. They pile up pretty quickly. I've got a pan of paraffin set up to seal the edges on bowl blanks and ends of spindle blanks. Now that I've got my process worked out, I should be able to turn the big stack sitting outside my pole barn into sealed blanks that I can work my through at my own pace, with minimal loss to checking and cracking.

Hey Dave B., I was in Midland yesterday, taking my wife to a quilt store she likes.
 
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Ric, glad you had success. My saw has guide blocks, not bearings. I ran "cool blocks" for a while, but they wore away quickly. I switched to ceramic blocks and they have worked well. I think they help to keep the blade clean.

It's nice to have spouses with hobbies. I've been in yarn stores around Michigan with my wife, the knitter. Most vacations include a stop at the LYS, (local yarn shop in knitting parlance).
 
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From what I've seen so far, I think I'm going to look into putting guide blocks on my saw, at least for when I'm cutting green wood. I may have to fabricate something, but that's ok. I enjoy metal working too.

It's definitely nice to have a wife who appreciates hand crafting things. I take her to quilt shops and she encourages me in woodturning. We live pretty frugally, so when it comes to our hobbies, we don't mind investing in them. It's certainly helped us get through the past year with what's left of our sanity intact.
 
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The build up of sap on the blades and guide bearings is something we have to live with on our electric upright band saws unless you want to try the band mill approach. I have a Wood Miser band mill that has a gravity feed nozzle supplying a continuous Pine sol and water mixture on the blade, which lubricates and prevents build up on the blade. The worst build up is when milling pine which if the pine sol runs out the blade gets so thick that the machine overloads.
 
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