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Author Topic: Chestnut  (Read 713 times)

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Offline Ktg

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Chestnut
« on: August 11, 2020, 10:42:06 AM »
We are trying to identify this old barn wood and are getting many different responses ranging from butternut, chestnut and oak etc. Can anyone help me to identify this lumber through pics? 

Offline Don P

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2020, 02:16:44 PM »
Maybe, take a sharp razor knife to the end grain and get a good closeup of a very cleanly sliced end.

One quick ID is chestnut is ring porous, much like oak but does not have rays visible to the naked eye, oak has very pronounced rays. Butternut is diffuse porous.
A laborer works with his hands
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Offline low_48

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2020, 11:19:16 PM »
To decide between oak and chestnut, oak has medullary rays and chestnut does not. Check the end grain for those radial rays.

Offline Don P

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2020, 08:52:54 PM »
I use our scanner as my microscope. I grabbed a few slices the other day. 1st shot is white oak un top, red oak middle, chestnut on bottom. If you look carefully you can see visible rays on the white and red oaks and no visible rays on the chestnut. I've had to take screenshots and then hit an image optimizer to get this down to where it posts, if you do this at home you get much better resolution.



Zooming in on the white oak the rays are more visible and you can see the earlywood pores are blocked by tyloses, pretty obvious why it is called ring porous




Zooming on Red oak again very obvious rays coarser grain and unblocked pores, if you hold a thin slice up to the light you'll see light through those open pores, don't make a whiskey barrel out of red oak :D. With kids I've made "straws" out of red and white and let them blow bubbles in a glass of water with the red and blow up their cheeks with white.




We say chestnut has no rays but what we really mean is it doesn't have rays visible to the naked eye, here it is blown up, notice the fine rays;



Some butternut went into the kiln yesterday with a load of walnut, I'll try to remember this when it comes out and add a shot of it.
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Online btulloh

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2020, 09:11:26 PM »
Pretty cool and very educational. Thanks for posting that. 

Are you using a regular flatbed scanner to do that?  Whatever youíre using, itís certainly getting to the meat of the matter. 
HM126

Offline Don P

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2020, 09:41:11 PM »
Yeah, just a regular flatbed scanned at 1200dpi. I ran it up to 4800 the first try and the computer locked up. It works good for bug ID too as long as you don't drop the lid too hard :D

I'll go out on a limb here and say the chestnut has characteristics of ring porous but you're seeing pores in the latewood as well so I'd call it semi diffuse porous. Hopefully Danny will elucifiscate
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Online btulloh

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2020, 09:50:57 PM »
I gotta try that out. On wood, not bugs. 

HM126

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2020, 05:55:35 AM »
.... Hopefully Danny will elucifiscate
OK now just hang on a second here. I like an invented word as much as the next guy (I even claim a few for myself), but this one was new to me and close enough that I actually tried to look it up.  :D If you are going to create it, you have to define it, that is the rule. Sounds like a conjunction of 'Elusive' and 'obfuscate' which makes me even more curious as to the definition. ???
Love the scanner idea, gonna try that, still working on my basic education of these woods and trying to internalize some of these very points. How did you prep your samples? Just sanding?
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I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline Don P

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2020, 06:37:25 AM »
Allow me to elucidate
I was just down in the Nasa clean shop prepping white oak window sills, when I trimmed one on the chop saw I realized it was clean enough for a scan so kicked around and whacked the other two. I think the earlywood on the chestnut would have benefitted from some time with fine sandpaper.
Hopefully that doesn't obfuscate too much :D
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Offline WDH

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2020, 07:17:05 AM »
Oh my, what an introduction ;D.

So there is good old standard ring porous like white oak and red oak.  Then there is good old standard diffuse porous like maple and yellow poplar.  Two nice pigeon holes, but some species don't like to fit in pigeon holes.  So there is semi-ring porous and semi-diffuse porous. 

In semi ring porous, the first earlywood pores are good and large, but there is not a sharp delineation between the earlywood and latewood.  The change in pore size is gradual and pretty steady. Persimmon and pecan can be like this.

Check out the end grain pics here for persimmon.

persimmon

In semi-diffuse porous, the earlywood pores are not so large and there is a steady and gradual decrease in pore size.  Black walnut, cottonwood and willow can be like this.

Check out the end grain pics here for black walnut.

black walnut

These differences can be quite subtle as nature does not like pigeon holes, either.

I believe chestnut is ring porous as the boundary between the large earlywood pores and the small latewood pores is quite distinct. 

chestnut

One thing about chestnut is that it has tyloses like white oak, and on an old barnwood piece that you slice, you can look closely and see the little sparkly shiny tyloses, they look almost like little pieces of shiny sand or grit.  So, the clues are the dark brown color of the heartwood but rays that are not easily visible even a using a 10x hand lens, and the large earlywood pores with the little sparkly bits of tyloses in them.  Also, this barnwood is also usually shot up with black lined ambrosia beetle holes as they loved chestnut as much as they love pecan (smiley_devil).

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Offline samandothers

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2020, 12:40:53 PM »
Good info here Don and Danny, thanks for the pictures links and explanations.  If you will permit me an interrogatory please.

I appears by info previously shared that ambrosia beetles enjoyed chestnut.  Would powder post beetles mess with it? 

Offline WDH

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2020, 03:59:32 PM »
Not sure if they like the heartwood or not.  Most surviving chestnut lumber is heartwood as the sapwood has likely rotted away.  Powder post beetles do not like the heartwood in some species. 
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2020, 01:02:51 PM »
Being something of a Chestnut freak, I've torn down barns, and several old houses and once in awhile I'll see a board of oak that fools me until I get out my pocket knife. I've never seen powder post on sap or heartwood but termites eat it readily. I worked with a man who owned an old 4 bent barn and knowing my fetish for chestnut he told me to check out the hay loft floor in the barn as he thought it was all chestnut, which it was. He told me he was OK if I pulled it and replaced it with 4/4 oak from a mill which I did. it was so old it was pre-blight wood and thus nearly zero worm holes. 
One common variation seen in chestnut is the color varies from reddish to brown/tan/yellowish. That wood is quite dark across the board face. I've still got a decent stash of chestnut for furniture so my plan is to use that old wood for a cabin floor. 
In 1976 my wife , oldest son, age 1 and myself traveled to Limbos Hardwoods in Hickory, NC with a highchair thrown in the back of my Chev Apache10 pu truck to buy chestnut. They had over 10,000 BF on that yard which nearly all came from sunken logs fished from the Tennessee River system. I have a few left of the ~200BF I bought and they are easy to ID as they always have mica particles sparkling in the end grain. 
Other sources who once sawed the wood in post-blight times up to maybe 15-20 yrs ago were in the high smokies areas with most logs there grubbed, i.e. dug from the deep hollers of those mountains where the soil cut off the oxygen same as did water in a river or swamp. That practice became a no/go with the feds and I doubt much is found now.
Old chestnut is very brash and repairs are needed to build anything with it.
My dining room table legs are turned from small "logs" hand pulled from near me then sawed on a mill into 6" squares. They have few holes but nice coloring. They were small pole sized chestnuts that grew from the roots of blighted trees. 
I sold a wood stove this week to a man who lives near me whom I'd never met. he farms and runs a WM40 mill so we talked some wood. He'd seen a huge live chestnut on a KY mtn top near Harlan, KY and knew the owner there. he said the U of KY used nuts from that tree in the Chestnut restoration project which I think is now complete in developing a "new Chestnut" thats blight resistant and has the original characteristics of growth, size and lumber quality. I'm behind on that projects culmination really. I did have a biology teacher my last year as a HS principal who quit the next year to work FT on that project. 
In Ireland we saw many huge American Chestnuts on the estates open to public there-all were planted as specimen trees.  
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Offline WDH

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2020, 08:19:58 PM »
I have a few left of the ~200BF I bought and they are easy to ID as they always have mica particles sparkling in the end grain.
Those are tyloses.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2020, 08:40:36 AM »
I'm not in scientific position to argue that point but was told that it's mica back when I got the wood. I assumed it accumulated in the rivers bed. Having hiked a blue million miles in my life I have seen lots of mica flakes! These sparkle similar to gold, etc., FWIW. 
Kan=Kansas;tuck=Kentucky;kid=what I'm not

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Re: Chestnut
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2020, 08:27:05 PM »
The "mica flakes" in my piece of chestnut that I recovered from an old downed log in the North Georgia mountains are tyloses.
Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5640SU, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com


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