This Walnut Log Split Apart when it Hit the Ground

Welcome to my new driveway, today we are going to properly use the saw for the first time at the new property! 

I did use the saw just a bit last week. Some people were wondering if I would have to recalibrate my saw after the move. I didn’t think I would have to because I never have before, and I didn’t move it in any elaborate way. So I gave the saw a try, and it is actually cutting smoother here than it did at the other house. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the country air.

Today I have a special guest: Austin from Versatile Woodwork, all the way from Saint Charles, Minnesota.

Austin brought this really cool walnut log which came apart as it hit the ground. We are going to try and put it back together and saw it up, which promises to be interesting. 

First, a little bit about Austin and how he got into cutting trees and reclaiming lumber. He started cutting trees just on the weekends to stay busy and to have a side-gig while still maintaining a full time job. During that time, he saw all of the waste that goes into traditional tree service and all of the logs that were sitting out at the city dumps doing nothing but rotting and getting burned up every year. He started thinking that he could do better, and decided to cut down trees, repurpose them, and make fine furniture with them. The business really grew from there, becoming much more than a weekend gig. About two and a half years later, Austin is self-employed, has 5 employees, and the business is doing great.

Putting this thing back together and getting it on the saw was surprisingly uneventful. 

This is a crotch log in which the tree has completely split between the two sections. Now they are nested back together. When we cut, we will have some crotch, but it is going to be disrupted by that crack.

This is a very big walnut log. Down here at the butt, we’re at 42 inches, and crazily, you can see daylight all the way down through the center of the log. Other than the crack, I don’t really see a whole lot of weird, crazy things. If this log were solid, we’d expect to see the crotch figure from the two limbs, but because it’s been split apart, it’s gonna be really, really gnarly. Hopefully there’s some crazy goofy stuff inside of here. 

Hopefully through here there will be something interesting, because this is where the tree was trying to grow back together. The crack that I am pointing to in the picture above is the actual split. 

The current plan is to cut off the nub on top, then make a cut as deep as the saw can, moving our straps as we work our way down the log. That will give us four pieces to then put back on the saw with some nice flat reference surfaces so they won’t be moving around too much. I’m going to get the saw set up for that top cut and get to cutting. 

There’s a little bit of crotch-ish figure through here after cutting off that top nub. 

That went surprisingly uneventfully, which I guess is good. We are all the way through, end to end now. The plan is to take it off the saw and bring it back out to the pasture, where we will try to get it apart without it breaking some more.

We got it divided up into the four chunks, and brought the main section back to the saw for slabbing. 

That is gnarly. As the visitor, Austin gets to throw the first bucket of water. 

This tree definitely had some serious rot and infiltration inside. We’ve got nice big voids with some dirt inside. There are some really fun, swirly grains and colors. This is promising, and we are only in the sapwood right now. Once we get further down, we will start seeing even more crazy stuff. 

After a very brief lesson, Austin is taking his turn at making some slabs with the saw. 

Now let’s look at some wood. This has got a big hole in the middle. This is going to make some cool tables for sure. The split is running the whole length, until it reaches the big hole in the middle, and then it tries to reconnect again at the top of the hole. It has an interesting grain so far. I think when we get to about slab four, we will be deep enough where things start to get crazy.

I love this. There’s some really great shapes in here. This must have been a limb at one point.

The holes and the shapes inside of here are just really cool and crazy. 

Down here, we’re starting to get some insect damage, too. These are some carpenter ant caverns. It will be hard to save, but amazing if Austin is able to do so. He would have to pre-cast that, and then flatten it with a router. This is definitely a gnarly, gnarly log. We’ve also found some iron stain, but haven’t hit anything that could be causing it yet. 

When I look at logs like this, I wonder to myself “how the heck was it still standing?” There’s nothing holding it.

This one has more of the crazy ant colony, which is pretty delicate. Overall, this log is just cool shapes and gnarly-ness.  

There is a little figure up here.

This is a very dirty log, one of the sloppier logs I’ve milled.

We did end up getting a nail or two.

I like this, which is some kind of bark inclusion. 

And here, we have what we call the ant hotel. Just overall, really cool shapely piece of wood. 

The slabs are about four feet wide here in the middle. 43 inches at one end, 53 inches on the other. Not bad.

Accidentally cut about half an inch into the stop. At first we thought we hit something good in the tree, turns out we just hit the saw. The teeth are still on the saw, so we’ll see if it still cuts straight. When we got to the slab where Austin hit the stop, we actually couldn’t even tell where he had hit the stop. I have cut so many logs with that one blade, it’s just a carbide-tipped wood blade. It will cut through wood, metal, whatever you need. Such an amazing blade, just spend the money and be done with it. 

Crazy grain. Look at these cool bark inclusions in here. 

That is gorgeous. The color and the shape and the overall grain is nuts. 

This has some really interesting crotch figure about halfway up, at least on these two slabs. The grain on here is kind of fun, but then there is a lot of stray stuff from the quartersawn orientation. This is probably my favorite slab so far.

This one is similar to the last one, a lot more quartersawn material, but with such a big void. This is how the tree was growing up, with this huge hole in it. 

I don’t know what’s going on here, but I like it. Something goofy there.

One of the coolest parts of this slab is the little nested connection up here where the tree was not quite re-connected back on top of this void. 

This is another really straight grain slab. That is a pretty one. Love how the slabs come back together. It’s still about four feet wide all the way down.

We’ve got the bottom layer of the ant hotel there. 

And a beautiful bark inclusion over here. The grain around that bark inclusion is really cool. That is why I like bark inclusions because they produce some interesting grain around them.

Okay, off with the carbide blade for some cross-section cuts next. That is the only carbide blade I had, and that was used to cut (almost) everything I cut last fall. I don’t have any more carbide blades yet, but I have five more on order. For now, we’re going to go back to bi-metal, which is not nearly my favorite anymore, not even close. 

We’ve got 10 years there. 70 years total.

Check out these bark inclusions. There’s a few of them with some really fun grain around them.

Last, we are going to slab the remains.

These have some serious structural defects that’s for sure, but very nice. 

This log was probably one of the more goofy things that I’ve ever cut. Usually when logs come apart, it’s after they’ve been sawn. Usually you don’t put them back together before getting them on the saw.

A big thank you to Austin. Thank you for bringing this ridiculous thing here, it was so much fun.

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