12 August 2019 at 12:54 pm #598530
I’m working with walnut for the first time and it has been nothing but problems. The yield from the rough sawn material has been horrible. One board had insect damage (worm, borers, or something) that riddled the wood randomly through the entire section. It isn’t everywhere, but is in enough places that I could not get what I needed from the board. Another piece, a short, had checks and honey comb that continued even after taking 8″ off the end. It is 8/4, so I put it aside hoping for a future project that will work around the checking. The final board had a lot of reversing grain, which is fine. It’s hard to work with, but provides a lot of beauty. The problem with this board was tension. Every time I rip or resaw material out of this thing, it springs. I can’t get anything flat out of it. I’ve tried letting it sit, and similar standard games, but I can’t get anything straight from it. I’m pretty sure it is tension in the wood instead normal drying and movement.
Is this typical for walnut, in other words, such low yield, and you just have to burn a bunch of it? Or, have I just had really bad luck on this batch? Right now, there’s a fair chance that my yield from around 13 board feet is going to be zero. I needed this for a class I’m taking in a couple days, but I’m out of time, so I think I’m going to switch to prepping some poplar and go to class with poplar instead of the expected walnut or mahogany (which I’m trying never to use).12 August 2019 at 3:59 pm #598574
No, this is not normal. I have worked with Walnut quite a bit, and you get everything you mentioned, but not in the amount you mentioned. What you describe, and the amount of it, is generally only in old or decayed wood. The checking, cracking, and tension you mentioned sounds like improperly preparing the wood for drying. The ends should have been coated as they will dry out before the rest. The tension sounds like kiln-dried wood, dried too quickly. Don’t give up on Walnut because of one bad batch. It works beautifully with hand tools and looks great.13 August 2019 at 4:26 pm #598936
@vreed thanks, very helpful to know. I’ll keep after it. Do you know any tricks for making layout more visible on walnut? White pencil? What about knife and gauge lines? It’s interesting how each new wood type often requires new knowledge.13 August 2019 at 8:56 pm #599030
Walnut from an open field or hedgerow that has spent its life subjected to wind stress can behave the way you describe. It can also yield interesting grain.
You can use white pencil, white markers steel fabricators use, or chalk, but they are usually not precise and are only indicators of where to look for scribe lines. You can use pencil over the marker lines to get closer. Milwaukee tools makes a nice white paint marker.
But you will then spend time taking off the lines.
For finer work, try using painter’s blue tape and using a knife or knife gauge to take off the parts of the tape that cover the waste portions. The method is named for Mike Pekovich who championed the trick13 August 2019 at 10:09 pm #599046
Using a traditional school chalk is sometimes recommended for endgrain, though for my part filling in gauge lines and knife lines with a carpenter’s pencil, shaped to a double bevel, works better. I also use a pair of magnifying glasses, but still often have problems.
London, UK; Cambridge, MA
- This reply was modified 3 days, 20 hours ago by Sven-Olof Jansson. Reason: typo
You must be logged in to access attached files.13 August 2019 at 10:53 pm #599061
Where did you get the magnifiers?
I have the kind that look like two large magnifying glasses.
Since my cornea transplants, I need cheaters for anything I can reach.13 August 2019 at 11:58 pm #599079
They are a present from my better half. A very nice gentleman came to visit me on repeated occasions to take measurements and make checks. It was more or less like being at Savile Row tailor for a bespoke suit. At the end, I was presented with a box; and have since never dared to ask about them, just being happy with the loupes and the glasses that are like any other ones.
Oddly, one can find adverts for these kind of glasses with loupes in the New Yorker – and of course on line.
Doing woodworking after corneal transplants: well, I stand in awe.
London, UK; Cambridge, MA14 August 2019 at 3:45 am #599136
It’s really not a big deal. I had lenses and retinal work in one eye as well about two years ago. They did a great job and I see better than I have my whole life for distance . 20-20.
I used to wear Coke bottle lenses.
It’s just that I need correction up close and depth of field sucks with all the solutions so far, so I’m constantly changing glasses. Different glasses for sharpening a saw and using it.
What I really need is zoom lenses LOL.
My dentist hooked me up with the guy who did his, but they weigh a lot and cost several hundred dollars, so I was hoping you found cheaper ones. Sounds like the better half did you a good’un.14 August 2019 at 3:52 pm #599277
Larry, my eyes are becoming like your description. As time goes by, my accommodation gets worse, and my need for more light gets stronger. Presbyopia. Feh. Progressive lenses don’t work for me at the bench because the width of field is too narrow for the up close work and because I often don’t have a choice about how I orient my head, which means I can’t get to the in-focus spot. Right now, I use a cheap pair of drug store glasses at the bench, which puts things in focus when they are in the vise or on the bench, but they are only a portion of my prescription, so things are a bit swimmy. I’ve thought about trying bifocals with the lower set for bench work and made as tall as possible and the upper set to mid distance. It’s funny you mention sharpening saws, because that is challenging for me, partly from it being my weakest skill and partly because of eyesight. I think I’ve seen clip-on loupes that looked light weight, but haven’t tried them. I’ll look for them again and let you know if I find them.14 August 2019 at 8:54 pm #599352
Couldn’t agree more Larry. The glasses have really been a bonus for me, and our lad informed me yesterday on what generous a gift they were…
Once snooker world champion Dennis Taylor is famous for his upside-down very large glasses, which provided full vision all over the 10 ft table, also when he was bent over the cue. I’ve got me a pair along the same principles, though not to the full extent. Basically, mine are a progressive pair with focus from 1 ft – 10 ft (once known by the somewhat misogynistic term “Housewife glasses”). They work well enough, and perhaps a larger pair could provide you with full range focus?
London, UK; Cambridge, MA
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