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What is the best time of year to cut a walnut tree down? I have one in my yard that I was going to cut down myself and make some slabs furniture out of. However a friend told me that the wood would not be as good if I didn't do it at the right time of year. Is there truth to this?
 

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Senior Something
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If you are wanting to keep the bark intact as much as you can, they say it's best to cut the tree down in the winter when the sap is down. The bark holds on better. SOMEONE correct me if I'm wrong. As far as milling into lumber, there's is no good or bad time for walnut, however, the longer (year or so) it lies on the groung, the more of the sapwood you may loose to bugs.
 

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Log dog
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djg said:
If you are wanting to keep the bark intact as much as you can, they say it's best to cut the tree down in the winter when the sap is down. The bark holds on better. SOMEONE correct me if I'm wrong. As far as milling into lumber, there's is no good or bad time for walnut, however, the longer (year or so) it lies on the groung, the more of the sapwood you may loose to bugs.
+1 what djg said.
 

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Ditto what djg said except that the sap is not "down" in winter. In most species, the MC (sap) is actually a percent or so higher in winter. The bark does tend to stay on winter-cut trees better, though. Being a dark wood, Walnut won't stain from fungal activity in summer the way lighter-colored woods do, so that's not a concern.

I do my tree cutting in fall or winter just because it's too freaking hot to do it now.
 

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As I said before, walnut can set as long (years) as it's convienent for you. The only concern I would have, is the loss of the white colored sapwood to bugs if you let it lie too long (> 1yr?). But remember, the longer it sets, the more end checking you'll get and loss of lumber. So I suggest dropping the tree, if not already done, a month or so before you're ready to have it milled. Get your ducks in a row first (sawyer, time on his schedule, stickers, level place to sticker the lumber, etc.) then cut the tree down.
 

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Sawing against the Wind
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Depending on the area your from...here in Tennessee the temps get warm/hot enough that the mills aren't the happiest buying walnut due to the splitting that goes on from the heat and they have to keep water sprayed on them to keep them moist. Some loggers that do alot of walnut keep the plastic "staples" that they put on any checks showing to prevent further splitting. I've personally seen/heard them pop and split 75% of the length in the summer heat during a lunch break....I prefer not to drop walnut in the summer heat BUT it can be done with greater risks. Further north , less temps and more humidity I'd say less chance of problems.
 

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Thanks! So once I drop this tree, how long should I let it sit for before I start cutting it up into boards?
Generally speaking, the sooner you can get it milled, the better. There is no advantage in letting the log sit, even if it's Walnut. Lighter colored woods are worse as they will stain if left very long, especially in the summer months.
 

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If the tree is down, get it milled as soon as you can.

Will you ruin it if you wait? No.

Can you still get nice lumber after it being down for years? Usually.

Doesn't the log 'season' if you wait? Not unless you consider checking and degrade 'seasoning'.

In the past three weeks I have milled a walnut down an estimated 20+ years, and one only down 14 hours. Both clients will enjoy their lumber. To assure a better quality product, dry boards - not logs. :thumbsup:
 

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cut down time

I cut my trees when ever it happens to be convenient. I have one oak log and one ash log from last fall and I plan to cut down another oak and another ash this next week. All of the logs will be going to the mill together, because that is when it is convenient for me. These will all be sliced up on a steam powered saw mill at the local steam power show. This mill is over a century old and is not very efficient, but it is fun. I also have three cherry logs that I will be taking to a band saw mill later on, because it is efficient and I won't loose as much to the sawdust pile. The whole bunch will be commercially planed down to 13/16 and stickered up to dry. Luckily my neighbors don't complain about the pile taking up a space in my driveway.
 

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I'd wait until fall if it were me. No other reason than bugs are gone in the fall, and you can have the log milled into lumber and begin drying long before bugs come back in the spring.

I just spent the last two months logging/milling virtually daily in S.E.Ohio. After that trip I vowed to never cut in summer again. Bugs were trying to get eggs laid on the wood before I could even finish the next cut. It was crazy. They are VERY prolific. I cut sassafras, red/white/chestnut oak, sugar/red maple, walnut, cherry, & pignut hickory. The bugs were on all of it. I have always cut in fall & winter and never seen anything like this before. No way would I ever cut in summer again. No doubt the kiln will kill the eggs & with planing after dry, the eggs will be gone, but the thought still "bugs" me.....pun intended.
 

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Rob,

I agree, mill 'em when you got 'em. Waiting to mill just means it'll be longer before they are dry. :thumbsup:

Your comment, "The whole bunch will be commercially planed down to 13/16 and stickered up to dry." raised a consideration. If you have a choice it would probably be better to air dry it before planing it. That way, if there are any drying defects like cupping, you'll have a better chance at planing out those defects. If you plane to 13/16 and then get even the slightest cupping - which is not unusual as wider boards dry, you'll end up at less than 3/4 before you get them flat. :thumbdown:
Plus, I have found that the surface isn't as nice when planed green as it is when planed dry.

Good luck with your project,
 

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planing the wet stuff

I air dry all of my material, so what I have done lately is to sticker up the wet stuff for a month or so which cuts a big slice out of the mc of the rough cut pieces. After a month or so I will go through the pile with a skill saw and cut out most of the bad stuff like knots and bad edges, poor quality, etc. then I also square up the ends so they can be sealed. Then I will take it to be planed commercially. it generally takes about an hour or so at the mill being planed. Otherwise it would take a couple of days with my bench top planer to get everything down to a consistant thickness , so it can be restickered in nice even stacks and left alone to dry. It usually takes 12 to 18 months stacked up inside to get down into the 7 or 8 % range.
 

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Sawing against the Wind
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Rob,
Maybe I'm confused but 7-8% is way under the national average of 12-14 % MC....I only thought areas like arizona and some of it's surroundings were the few that could get those readings air drying. I thought Illinois had more moist air making crops grow so good. Is that an actual metered reading???? what kind???
BUT now that would be cool to get those MC's without extra drying...then all I'd need to do is heat to debug!!!! I've always heard ERC can dry down that far without kilning BUT I've never stuck the pins to see myself!!
 

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moisture content

most of the material I have is oak. and I have a pin type of moisture meter I got at one of the big box stores for about 30 or 40 bucks. My garage is plenty warm in the summer months and I occasionally will put a fan blowing on the stack when I'm working out there. A lot of times I will leave a fresh pile stickered up out side for the winter months, but usually my logs get sawed up in august and moved inside in the October. I occasionally work out in the garage in the winter months and will heat the garage on those occasions and turn a fan on then also. Just out of curiosity, I just checked on my current project of Adirondack chairs. That tree was cut down and sawed up 2 years ago. Current moisture readings of 7.9 to 10.4 in different pieces.
 

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Sawing against the Wind
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OK.....I see how your getting the lower numbers now by bringing inside and using some heat....I thought it was all outdoor natural MC balancing. COOL keep up the work!!! Keep us in pics...
 
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