Drying discs from a walnut log

      Ideas for drying and protecting circular slices taken from a walnut log. November 15, 2000

Question
Yesterday we cut down a good sized black walnut tree in our yard. We were going to use it for firewood, but I fell in love with the beautiful pattern of the trunk and would like to "slice" it into pieces to be used for a floor under the arbor of trees we are replacing it with. Should I dry it before slicing it? Then should it be sealed? It would have to be air dried as I do not have access to a kiln.

Forum Responses
There is some information on using salt paste to season disks to prevent v checking in USDA handbook no. 528 "Drying Eastern Hardwood Lumber." They recommend mixing 3 lbs of salt with 1 gallon of water, then making a paste from that using cornstarch and several egg whites for a binder. Put a thick layer on the disks with the bark on and then air dry or kiln dry using a moderate schedule. I have never tried it but have kept it in the back of my head for future reference.



Cut the slabs thick and expect it to crack. I have no clue how decay resistant walnut is in ground contact. Here are some URLs to related articles:

http://boatbuilding.com/content/rot.html

http://www.greenbuilder.com/sourcebook/WoodTreatment.html

http://www.rotdoctor.com/



Wow, that would be one very nice looking floor. I'll bet you find some other uses for the wood after you see what the grain patterns look like in the boards. Cut the log into boards as soon as possible and get them into stickered piles to start the drying process. Walnut is pretty easy to air dry. Air drying is all you need for the lumber since the floor is outside. Call Woodmizer for help finding a sawyer in your area to mill the logs.


I have read that you can take a round slice from a tree trunk, put it in the microwave, heat it until it steams and let it cool and then repeat this process a few times and it should dry without splitting. This kind of makes sense as the microwave probably heats the inside and dries the wood from the inside rather than the outside, which causes a round cut to shrink around the outside diameter and open up from the shrinkage.


Microwaving might work for some of the pieces, but rounds don't split due to drying from the outside in. They split because most woods have different amounts of shrinkage in the tangential vs. the radial direction. It is the difference in shrinkage that produces the cracks.


I work at Pleasant Hill, an 18th Century Shaker village museum in the Kentucky Bluegrass, and I have some advice to pass on from our coopers. Recently, the village had to remove a big sycamore and a big maple (died due to last year's severe drought). I asked the guys to save me some "slices" of both trees to be made into old-fashioned butcher's blocks (which of course I probably won't actually use due to scary stories about food poisoning!). Both coopers offered the same suggestions: 1) paint the cut ends of the slices, and expect to later sand or cut the paint off or 2) wrap the slices in plastic sheeting, but uncover periodically on cool overcast days so they don't mold. I'm gonna give the plastic a try--unless someone out there says no way.


The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor C:
I tried the wrapping it in plastic trick about 10 years ago on a massive walnut disk that was about 6 inches thick (probably a bit thin) and about 3 feet in diameter. I tried to keep up with the mold, but it was a roiling, sleepless evil that foiled my every effort. It got so moldy that I was afraid to use it as firewood. Painting the ends sounds more attractive to me, and I'm intrigued by the salt and egg white potion.



Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: Air Drying Lumber

  • KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: Wood Properties

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article