Note from NWA Sawmill - Ken Monson was kind enough to send me this write-up covering the harvest and processing of a large walnut on family land in southern MO. It was a pleasure working for, and with, him. ~ Ryan Powers
The Tucker family has been farming cotton and other crops for more than 100 years in Southeastern Missouri. Near one of the houses on the farmland, a very large Black Walnut tree grew. The Tucker girls remember this tree as huge, even when they were growing up in the 1960’s, providing much shade and a tire swing that was tied up into the tree with a chain.
As an avid woodworker, when I found out this tree had died a few years ago, I thought it could be used for woodworking, if harvested properly, rather than used as firewood. This tree measured about 48” in diameter, and the main trunk was 12’-14’ high, with many large branches. Needless to say, it could provide much wood for creative woodworking. After over a year of investigating, discussing and searching for someone who could do this job, I finally discovered NWA Sawmill (Ryan Powers). [I thought … they were in Northwest Arkansas, and the Tucker Farm is essentially in Northeast Arkansas – actually extreme Southeast Missouri, so maybe they would travel to help us harvest this tree.]
The tree was safely harvested in May 2016! We hired NWA sawmill to take the tree down and turn it into rough sawn lumber. The tree turned out to be approximately 120 years old and 54” in diameter. It likely sustained a lightning strike around 1975-1980. When the tree came down, to our surprise, there was a hole in the middle, with a very obvious dark black ring that occurred 35-40 years ago.
The likely lightning strike did take away some wood volume, but the highly figured parts of the tree that remained (36” of curly walnut in some of the tree, flamed walnut, feathered walnut, etc.) more than offset the lost wood volume.
This was my first experience with harvesting a tree for woodworking purposes, and NWA sawmill (Ryan Powers) was awesome! The tree was cut into 4/4, 8/4, 9/4 and 12/4 rough sawn lumber, plus 4 large slabs of some amazing black walnut.