Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

It Must Be An Interesting Life Being A Black Walnut Tree

A black walnut tree and it's friend Fernando.

I’m taking a break from hand planing several pieces of black walnut destined to be parts of dulcimers and some other instruments.

The pieces I’m planing comes from two 3/4″ thick quartersawn boards sequentially cut from the same tree. The boards look similar except one has some dark mineral streaks (I love dark mineral streaks in walnut!) and part of a knot near one end.

After sawing the boards into pieces of identical dimensions I noticed the pieces sawn from the board with mineral streaks weighed considerably more than the other. I didn’t put them on a scale but the difference in weight was remarkable.

When I started planing the pieces another dramatic difference  became noticeable; pieces from one board were much easier to plane than the pieces that came from the other.

The pieces from the lighter weight board were easy to plane and I quickly produced a beautiful surface. The heavier pieces proved very difficult to plane and I was getting tear-out regardless of which direction I came from. I had to switch to a high-angle smoothing plane and use a lot of muscle to get a good surface on those pieces.

I don’t expect complete consistency from boards coming from the same tree but I have never had two boards sequentially cut from the same tree be so different.

Every tree tells a story.

 

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2 Comments

  1. And black walnuts are SO good – in cookies, oatmeal… just ask Barb Barton – she gathers them AND shells them.

  2. Robin Thompson

    . . .like how different children from the same parents are. . .

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Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers