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Author Topic: Air Drying Black Walnut in Conditioned Basement  (Read 469 times)

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Offline bobbys9

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Air Drying Black Walnut in Conditioned Basement
« on: September 02, 2018, 01:03:20 PM »
I moved to a new house 6 months ago with a basement that is included in the central air and whole house dehumidifier. It has a plastic vapor barrier under the concrete floor. I bought a temp/humidity monitor, and have found that over the past month the temp has ranged from 64 to 70 and the humidity has been between 53 and 60. I suspect that winter will be similar, as the humidifier is set for 50 and runs year around.

I plan to harvest a large Black Walnut that is in PA. (I live in DE). The tree is 31 1/2" diameter at 4 feet. I plan on maybe 10 slabs for counters/tables and the rest 1" boards. Lengths may be up to 10'. My in-place sawyer said I could dry it in my basement, but I have questions on how.

My thought is to level 4x4x8 pressure treated posts spaced every 2 feet and use melamine 1" strips for stickers. I would put the slabs on the bottom, and the boards above in a stack about 6 or 7 feet wide. I will leave 1" between slabs/boards. At the top I plan to have 4x4x8's above the sticker stack. I will use screw eyes and turn buckles between the 4x4x8's for pressure. Finally, I will have a fan blowing through the stack continually.

To address cracking I will use Anchorseal 2 on ends, and am thinking on using Pentacryl on the slabs/boards that are burl.

I would like to get feedback from the experts--I am doing this for the first time. Does this seem appropriate? How would I cap the stack? How long will it take, and should I try to slow the drying? Thanks in advance.

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: Air Drying Black Walnut in Conditioned Basement
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2018, 04:55:59 PM »
In a standard dry kiln, we start at 80% RH and then slowly drop the RH, reaching under 50% RH when we are about halfway through the cycle.  This is for 4/4-6/4.  It would be more humid for 8/4.  So, your starting conditions seems considerably too dry.

Also, you would be evaporating over 2000 pints of water from 1000 BF of Lumber.  You would want to make sure your system can handle that much extra water.    Otherwise, you will have some rust, corrosion, mildew, etc.  If you make conditions more humid, you certainly can create corrosion, etc.  There is also an odor from walnut (and from mildew) that would permeate the house.

In a kiln we will get over 150 F which will kill any insects; otherwise, you could bring some insects into your basement that might get into other hardwood lumber.

It is possible that your advisor was thinking of putting well air-dried lumber in your basement.  Even then, I would vote against that...a few pieces would maybe be ok.

Anchorseal the log ends asap.   Use two coats.  Also, seal large knots.  Reseal the lumber ends, as needed.

Do you have sentimental value attached to this tree?  If not, you should see about the value you could get if you sold this large tree. In many cases you could make enough money to buy all the walnut lumber you need and have some cash left over.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Air Drying Black Walnut in Conditioned Basement
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2018, 09:04:55 PM »
Iíve been drying a bunch of walnut under my covered deck for over a year.  This is outside on one end of my house.  For the first 2 months, the walnut odor was strong all the way around the outside of my house.  Donít get me wrong, I like how walnut smells, but it would be terrible in the House.  Even now that itís been dried for a year, I still occasionally smell it in the front of the house.
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Air Drying Black Walnut in Conditioned Basement
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2018, 10:58:20 PM »
I would recommend initially drying it outside, in a covered area.  Then you wonít have to worry about drying it too fast, destroying your HVAC unit from corrosion or an overload of water, smelling up your house with walnut stink (to me it smells a lot like stale cow poop), and any possible respiratory or allergic reaction to the juglone, a plant growth inhibitor that walnut produces.  Although it is a pretty wood, but itís actually one of the more nasty and mean lumber species out there.  It likes to fight back.  So I would leave it out of my living space until it was dead fish calm and dry.  For example, I get lots of splinters from all species of wood, and donít worry about them, except walnut.  Get a walnut splinter and you better get it out, because in about a half hour youíre going to be getting it out anyway, as it will take about that long before it will feel like itís been dipped in a light battery acid solution and give a nice burning sensation. :D  I wouldnít want to be cycling those type of fumes in my house.
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Offline bobbys9

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Re: Air Drying Black Walnut in Conditioned Basement
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2018, 09:31:29 AM »
Thank you friends for your feedback. I see that I was heading toward making a really bad mistake. I can only imagine the grief I would be in for from a wife who was not happy with the idea of more stuff in the basement! Yikes!

Yes, a sentimental tree--grew up with it in the backyard. I don't have the option of stacking it on my property here in DE, so using my sawyer's kiln services seems like the best bet.


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