Simple Pleasures

Late last summer I milled a decent sized walnut trunk into 2″ planks, plainsawn through and through on the LT15. The rest of the slabs are closer to 6′ long but a couple came out closer to 2′ for various reasons. The slabs were air drying for about 9 months which isn’t nearly long enough for 2″ thick walnut but since we don’t have the solar kiln set up yet I thought I’d try my luck at “kiln” drying in the attic.

I wasn’t properly prepared for this in that I don’t have a thermometer up there to measure temp/humidity but if I had to guess I’d say it’s around 110 up there during the day at least during the last few months that I’ve had the wood up there. MC was around 20% when the wood went in and today the reading was closer to 7-8%. Not too bad. It was definitely a lot easier hauling the pieces down.

I need 4 legs for a small hall bench I’m building out of an old walnut slab and thought this chunk would work nicely for that.

After crossing cutting the ends to get it to length (approx. 17″) I ripped one edge to get rid of the last gnarly bit. The off-cut was kind of cool, with the insect damage so I set that aside to use at some point down the road maybe as a decorative piece.


Once cut to size I brought out the trusty Jack Plane and started cross planing to flatten the first side. Always a treat to plane off the sawmill marks and see the grain and figure appear. Never gets old.


And after about 2 hours of handwork I had a lovely 2″ thick 14″x17″ chunk of walnut from a tree more or less in my own backyard. There’s some nice chatoyance when the light hits it right and I’m looking forward to ripping the 4 legs for the hall bench in the next couple days. For now, I’ll let the wood rest and see what kind of movement occurs before proceeding.




4 thoughts on “Simple Pleasures

  1. Did you also rip the board using the Ryoba saw? I have tried that on a bigger sized board and was unable to saw to the line. Cross cutting is working beautifully, but ripping .. I used an electric saw in the end. Can you share any experience with that?

    • Hello Rapheal, and thanks for the great question. I’m facing a similar dilemma when it comes to ripping large planks/slabs. I’m currently researching 2 different options, and one involves using a dedicated rip saw similar to what I observed Douglas Brooks use when ripping planks for traditional Japanese Boats. You can see more in his book, “Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding“. It’s a rather large saw, with an overall length of close to 28” including blade and handle. The second option I’ve been looking into has to do with employing what’s known as a Maebiki Nokogiri aka Japanese Whaleback Saw. You can find old, used ones for sale on eBay. Traditionally this saw was used by sawyers to rip a full log into planks but I imagine it would work well on large, long boards as well for dedicated rip cuts. The blade of the Maebiki is shaped, as you might imagine, like the hump of a whale, and this provides stability and rigidity along the length of the cut. I’ve yet to pull the trigger on purchasing one but depending on if I can get my hands on boatbuilder’s rip saw, I may go down that road soon. Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by. ~Bobby

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