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Help On Processing A Log Down To Scales.

Discussion in 'Steel, Hardware, & Handle Material' started by Putterer, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    Hey Gang.

    I have a cousin down in Quebec that has a massive Black Walnut tree on his front yard. When I say massive, I mean MASSIVE.

    Exhibit A: One Massive Black Walnut
    [​IMG]

    15 or so years ago, he had a substantial branch come down in a big storm. Fortunately it missed the house! My cousin is a woodworker so he processed the limb down into as much lumber as he could extract. He asked me if I wanted any, but I wasn't doing any woodworking at the time so I passed. What he did do was give me a couple of small logs that he said I could keep for future small projects. These chunks have been sitting in my garden shed out of the sun and rain for 15 years, so hopefully they are good and dry by now.

    Given that the wood has some history for me as I've know this tree since I was 5 years old, I'd like to process these chunks down into some knife scales to be used on my first knives. If I have any success at all, eventually I'll make a knife for my cousin with some of his wood as a handle.

    My question is should I just keep things simple and rip the pieces along the grain, or is there a particular way to process down a log to maximize the cool factor by making the grain look good?

    Here are some pictures of the two pieces:

    Piece #1 - no knots, but it has a few cracks that I'll have to work around.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Piece #2 - 2 knots, but no splits that I can see.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The second piece is about 4" wide at the narrow part and about 5" wide at the wider end.
    [​IMG]


    I don't have a band saw and the table saw is at the cottage, so I'll be going at this with a hand saw to get it cut down into manageable pieces.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Cheers from Gary the Noob!
     
  2. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    For the clear piece I would quartersaw (cut perpendicular to the growth rings) , this may produce some flecks, although not as pronounced as oak. For scales, cut a piece about 2"x5"x3/4" thick, then rip this down the middle to get a rough bookmatch. You would benefit from having a planer or sander as you'll want flat pieces for scales. For a hidden tang handle, a rough sawn block about 1-1/2" square by about 5 or 6" long would be a good start. The wood around the knot is more figured and would (IMHO) be better for blocks. Small inclusions can be left au natural or filled with cyanoacrylate aka super glue. Walnut goes nice with both brass and stainless pins.

    Dan
     
  3. Brad

    Brad Active Member

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    Too bad your not down in NS I know this guy with a bandsaw mill (me) who works for walnut. I wont repeat what Dan said he is right on the money
     
  4. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Ah memories... back in 2004 I was given about 9 feet of trunk from (what the owner said was) an 80 year old walnut tree. It was about 2 feet in diameter. I made a chainsaw mill, ripped it up in the yard and brought the more manageable pieces inside for bandsaw work. It was Pentacryled and stickered sitting in my garage until we moved house in 2009. That was when I had decided to give up most of it. A shame, but I know that someone has put it too use.

    I hope that you get some great pieces for your knifes from those pieces.

    Dan
     
  5. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    Thanks Dan & Brad for your feedback. Quarter sawn it is. I'll do some more detailed planning of the cuts to see what I can get out of them. Thanks for the offer to saw them Brad, but as you said NS is a couple of days drive for me and might be a bit much for this small project.

    I have a couple of neighbours with band saws that I can probably bribe with a beer or two.

    I do have a combo belt/disc sander and a flat surface plate that will allow me to prep the scales for gluing. I am working out of a two car garage/workshop, so space is limited right now. My table saw, surface planer, oscillating drum sander and old radial arm saw are all at the cottage a couple of hours away. I've got my belt sander, bench grinder and drill press in the garage plus all of my power and hand tools. Hopefully that is enough to get me started with my first knives.

    Dan, you mention a block thickness of 3/4" and then rip in half. That will leave me with 3/8" minus the blade kerf for each scale. That seems like a pretty thin scale for a noob like me making a bushcfart knife. When I was researching this, I noticed that a lot of raw wood blocks were 1" or 1-1/8" wide which give you about a 1/2" thick scale. Is that a waste of wood?


    Cheers.
    Gary
     
  6. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Hi Gary,

    You should end up with 5/16" or 1/4" scales. These are okay when you have a hefty steel tang like 1/8" or 5/32".
    Remember they all stack up to be the full thickness of the knife handle. Man I wish metric ruled because fractions suck!
     
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  7. Brad

    Brad Active Member

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    Don't forget to leave a few 1" thick if your ever going to make a stick tang knife

    Metric yuck fractions are great once you get your head around them. :)
     
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  8. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    Thanks guys. The plan for the first few knives is 5/32" (Brad) aka 4 mm (Dan). I'm also going to add some spacer material and at this point in time I will not be attempting a tapered tang. So to your point Dan, with the thickness of the metal and some spacers, I can go with your scale dimension.

    Thanks for the heads up Brad. I definitely will mill some larger blocks for any future hidden tangs. My cousin that owns the tree is not into camping, etc., so a nice gift to him would be a kitchen knife with his walnut for a handle. I think this will be a hidden tang situation.

    I appreciate the input. I'll keep you posted with the results.

    Cheers.
    Gary
     
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  9. Brad

    Brad Active Member

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    Thanks for translating for the old guy. People who turn bowls would probably pay pretty good money for that burl. Money for knife supplies
     
  10. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    Hey Brad.

    Thanks for the tip, but because I have a bit of an historical attachment to these particular pieces, I don't think I'll sell anything off. It will be cool for me to know that certain knives will have wood from my cousin's tree on them. Now I just have to get them cut up without screwing things up too badly.
     
  11. BigUglyMan

    BigUglyMan Active Member

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    When I saw the first pic all I could think was "Oh you ###hole, you didn't cut down that tree did you?" Glad to see my concern was for nought.

    Looking forward to seeing where you go with this. Wish I had that kind of problem. I've got the market cornered for Oak on my property...neighbour has all the Maples.
     
  12. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    Hey Big.

    The tree was still there when I visited earlier this year. Someone offered my cousin a large sum of money for the tree 25 years ago, but he wasn't interested.

    It sounds like you have plenty of access to lumber to keep yourself occupied. :). Our country property is covered with eastern red cedars, but no de deciduous trees. I've got a never ending supply of aromatic cedar for cedar chests or fence posts. I'm wondering if I dried and then stabilized the wood, what it might look like as handles. Something to ponder.
     
  13. Brad

    Brad Active Member

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    Nothing wrong with oak, its better suited for furniture than knife handles. However oak burl looks good I have seen it on a few knives. If your going to use it for firewood give it lots of drying time, oak likes to hold its moisture. Deer like acorns and rifle season starts tomorrow, just saying.:)

    As for the walnut its better I'm here and not there I love to dump trees.

    I do wish there was an outfit in Canada doing stabilization I have a bunch of poplar burl
     
  14. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    Hey Brad.

    I like processing trees too, but I don't have any experience with really big trees. I think my little 18" Stihl might have a problem with this monster walnut. :)
     
  15. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Hi Gary,

    When I chainsaw milled my walnut trunk I made swivel mount for the saw that I rode along a 2x4" that was lag screwed into the trunk. This keeps the saw moving in (more or less) a straight line. I used a little 18" Husqvarna and it worked okay. It would have worked better if I had a ripping chain, but keeping the regular chain sharp really helped. This is the basic idea but mine was more of a homemade (aka "uglier") rig.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/LUMBERMAKER...-DEERE-Homelite-Logger-MADE-USA-/150956426101

    Dan
     
  16. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    Hey Dan.

    That's a cool little ripping device. I've watched a number of vids on chain saw mills and I hope to do some experimenting in retirement when I'm living at the country property instead of in the burbs where we are now.

    My comment to Brad was more referring to dropping a tree the size of that monster walnut. I think the diameter is around 5 feet. My little Stihl would have a challenge with a tree that big. :).
     
  17. BigUglyMan

    BigUglyMan Active Member

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    Apparently Cal had success getting woodstabilizer to do his wood for him. Maybe there is an option there for your poplar.
     
  18. Brad

    Brad Active Member

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    I will have to give them a try, thanks
     
  19. jonliss

    jonliss Active Member

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    I know of one woodworker out in Ontario with a stabilizing setup, just got it setup, maybe wait for him to work it the kinks and it could be an option.
     
  20. Putterer

    Putterer New Member

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    I have secured the use of a neighbour's bandsaw to rip up these logs. With the way my schedule looks right now, it will probably be done over thr Christmas holidays. I guess that gives me plenty of time to figure out my cuts. Funny how running your own business interferes with hobby time!!!

    Thanks again for everyone's input. I'll post some pics when I'm done.

    Cheers
    Gary.
     

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