Big Walnut, No Nails

I get all of my logs from the St. Louis area, and most of them come from yards. After the tornado that went through this spring, I picked up a lot of cherry and a few nice walnuts. Two of them, which happened to be from the biggest walnut I have personally been involved with, I sold to David Stein, a custom woodworker in Illinois. David was happy to get the logs because of their size, which would work well for his large slab tables. There were, however, some blue/gray stains at the end of the bottom log that indicate metal within and were the main reason I didn’t sell it to a larger commercial veneer/log buyer. Luckily for me, David was willing to give the log a go. Unluckily for David, it was the most metal infested log he ever milled. He planned to have a few pieces with metal, but ended up with metal in every one. Hopefully, David will be able to get something useable out of the two logs (I don’t think the top log had metal in it, but it was much lower grade).

This large walnut was sure to have a little metal in it.

So, yesterday, with David in mind, I put a large walnut on my mill that came from only a few yards away from his (interestingly enough, I found walnuts in only one block in the entire city of Ferguson). It was a bottom log, so I got out my metal detector and scanned the log – nothing. I scanned again, this time focused about five feet from the ground where at least one nail was sure to be found – nothing. This tree had a swing in it and it came from an open back yard with only a couple other trees. It was a perfect candidate for a good hook or screw of some sort. Maybe higher – nothing. Lower – nothing. I milled this entire log and amazingly, hit only a few bullets near the base, which the mill didn’t mind.

I was astonished once the walnut was milled that the lumber was so nice and produced without incident. There are no photos of giant hooks protruding out of the log or broken bandsaw blades, but I thought you might enjoy some photos of the milling anyway. The log was busted a little at the bottom when it was uprooted, but I was able to work around the cracks and only lost the ends of some lower grade boards in the middle of the log.

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About wunderwoods

Hi! My name is Scott Wunder and I am the owner of WunderWoods Custom Woodworking. We build wine cellars, built-ins and furniture from local woods, here in St. Louis, MO. Recently, I finished a three-year term as the President of the St. Louis Woodworkers Guild, which had me writing a monthly article for our newsletter. I love to write, especially about wood, and found that I still had more to say. Every day I run into something wood related that I realize some of my customers don't know and this seems like a great forum for sharing what I have learned (instead of telling the same story to each person). The main thing to remember is that I try to keep it light and as my wife always reminds people that have just met me, "He is joking."

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