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Black Walnut Information

 
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I know this is a very common question, but yet I still need to ask.  I recently purchased a property that has a very large walnut located within’ 10 feet from a large stream. The property and tree has been protected since around the year 1900 as it was a School Property, and has been on school premises up until last year. No visible indication of any metal and the only fence that has ever been on the property has not touched the tree. The tree has a curcumfrance of 10ft. And 16ft until the first branch.  I have a very experienced logger friend that will fall it for a few beers. I have the equipment to load and transport. I guess my main question would be, what should I do it with it? What would be more profitable? I would hate to see it just sawed into lumber but if the price is right... I have the space available to store all logs and planks if I was to take to saw mill. I have the know how and tools to make live edge furniture with it, and wouldnt mind getting back into building, would that be the most profitable? If so, how thick should I have the mill cut them? Just want to the right thing.. and maybe make lil $ ;) if possible. Any advice or info about the tree would be greatly appreciated.
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pollinator
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Location: San Diego, California
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Do you have to take it out?  The bigger it gets, the more it will be worth for slabs.

If you do cut it down, don't go less that 1.5"(finished thickness).
 
Zack Huber
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:Do you have to take it out?  The bigger it gets, the more it will be worth for slabs.

If you do cut it down, don't go less that 1.5"(finished thickness).



No i dont really have to remove it, but would like to have some nice slabs to work with .. do you think it being so close to a water source will allow it to live longer and continue to grow with out hollowing out in center. Ive seen a few larger ones in this area far from constant water be hollow and dead in center once they were fell
 
steward
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I'd check into the value of black walnut lumber.  It was really high about 20 years ago but I'm not sure it's nearly as valuable now.  Might be worth just watching the price per board foot and saving it until it's worth more.  

If it's 16' to the first branch, I'm guessing you'll only get 12 clear feet out of it.  The flare at the bottom and the funky grain around the first branch may or may not be desirable to a sawmill.  To a slab dining room table though it might be worth more.
 
gardener
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Hi Zack, I personally love a big old black walnut, and probably wouldn’t take it down unless necessary.  I think the nuts are a great food source (for you and the local wildlife) that you probably couldn’t replace in your lifetime. And I just love looking at them - like oaks, the older they get the more interesting the branch structure gets.  That said, if it becomes diseased or dead standing, or topples in a storm, slab it up!  I actually have a beauty that is on the edge of a creek where the bank has become undermined by flooding (has been a VERY wet year) and am wondering if it will die/end up falling into the creek. May end up taking that one before nature does.
 
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Typically the greatest dollar value is in veneer logs instead of dimensional lumber, but veneer-quality logs have to meet some pretty strict standards.  I'd check and see if the tree qualifies first before doing that, many state forestry agents either have or can recommend someone to come out and take a look.

My biggest concern, though, would be its proximity to the stream.  Removing a large tree that close to the streambank can create a nick point for erosion to begin chewing away at your property.  If you do decide to remove the walnut, be sure and re-plant with some native tree or shrub (ninebark and willow work great) to keep the soil in place.  
 
gardener
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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The best money for any black walnut tree comes from selling it as instrument wood.
Most Luthiers love to get their hands on old Black Walnut and will pay in the vicinity of 300 dollars for a really good back and sides set. (that tree will be able to provide around 100 sets)
What I would recommend, if you are dead set on harvesting that most likely 200+ year old tree is that you shop around for an Instrument Wood Supplier to come and cut the tree.
If you let a regular sawyer take it down It most likely will not retain the ability to be used for instrument wood.

If you are just wanting to "play" with black walnut, be aware that it is a hard on tools wood and the grain tends to run out unless it is split to starting block size.

Redhawk
 
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Zach,

I like your idea of making money from the tree. I don't think that killing the tree for building materials is a sustainable way of making money from your walnut tree.

If I had a tree like yours I would let it grow, harvest walnuts for storage/consumption, and see if I can crank out some walnut oil for sale.

Then as the tree gets bigger, so does my income from the tree since it will just make me more money over time.

Why not start an orchard using the walnuts from that tree? That way the wildlife benefit, the leaves will build the soil in the area, you get exponential numbers of nuts down the line, (and you fight back against the tide of global deforestation.)
 
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