View Full Version : How would I slice up this board?

08-24-2012, 08:35 AM
I was given this Walnut slab (36" x 8" x 2") by a man who makes cutting boards. It was a drop due to the pith pocket.

If I wanted to turn this into neck blanks for a tenor what size should I cut them.
Plan on doing a scarf headstock with stack heel and bolt on to body.

I have a table saw with a thin kerf rip blade, jointer and planer. No bandsaw large enough to resaw. I would have to find someone to do that if it would be the best way. It was free, but I would like to utilize as much as possible. Any idea what to do with the offcuts after neck blanks are removed?

I figure I can get several planks out of the one side that is vertical grain, but not really sure how much overage to leave for furhter drying and milling. Mostly I work with plywoods and salvage lumber for rough garden use.

Here are some photos to help visualize.
Click to enlarge:

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u13/gyozu/Walnut%20slab/th_IMG_0041.jpg (http://s164.photobucket.com/albums/u13/gyozu/Walnut%20slab/?action=view&current=IMG_0041.jpg)

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u13/gyozu/Walnut%20slab/th_IMG_0042.jpg (http://s164.photobucket.com/albums/u13/gyozu/Walnut%20slab/?action=view&current=IMG_0042.jpg)

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u13/gyozu/Walnut%20slab/th_IMG_0043.jpg (http://s164.photobucket.com/albums/u13/gyozu/Walnut%20slab/?action=view&current=IMG_0043.jpg)

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u13/gyozu/Walnut%20slab/th_IMG_0044.jpg (http://s164.photobucket.com/albums/u13/gyozu/Walnut%20slab/?action=view&current=IMG_0044.jpg)

Pete Howlett
08-24-2012, 09:32 AM
I'd grade this for body wood rather than neck. About 60% oif the width looks usable - burn the rest.

08-24-2012, 09:39 AM
yeah, i'm not seeing necks here. High grade spanish cedar or mahogany can be had really cheap around here and would be easier to work and yield safer results.

but, if you must, there is a corner that could make a soprano or maybe a larger neck. that upper left section in the penultimate photo would work, but i'd just buy some cedro.

Liam Ryan
08-24-2012, 11:11 AM
Judging by the heart, there's run out in both directions. Me thinks you'd waste most of the board squaring it up.

Backs and sides.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-24-2012, 03:45 PM
Isn't walnut a little heavy for an uke neck anyway?

08-25-2012, 05:16 AM
I thought about using it for a neck since it looked like I could get a decent 1/4 sawn slab out of it. It may be a bit heavier, but I like a little weight in my hands. that's just personal.

However, it seems that I would be better off slicing this up for backs and maybe sides. This same shop that I got the walnut from also has Sapele and some sort of mahogany so I will keep an eye out plus check some other local wood sources. I'm just up the road from High Point, NC which has the remains of many major furniture industry players.

Thanks for that info. I don't work with primal cuts of wood all that often and deciding best use for a slab is an art all in of itself. Appreciate the help.

Kevin Waldron
08-25-2012, 01:45 PM
The material is primarily a cross section of the pith of the tree ( walnut is the worst for splitting/checking etc. ). Useless for instruments ..... with proper treatment possible gun grips or knife handles (soaking in some kind of resin hardener.)

Weight wise mahogany and walnut are close including statistics from Wood Explorer.




Rick Turner
08-25-2012, 02:12 PM
Walnut is useless for instruments?

Could have fooled me... Walnut makes great sounding ukes, and it's a decent neck wood a well. There's a reason it's favored for rifle and shotgun stocks...once dry, it's tough and stable and can handle shock quite well.

There's not a lot there that's useful because of that long pith pocket ( that's a real pither... ), but there's some neck stock there or some back and side stock. Not particularly interesting compared to some walnut, but certainly beyond plain mahogany...

Kevin Waldron
08-25-2012, 05:11 PM

Wasn't talking about all walnut just the boards that were shown. We use walnut all the time, one of our favorite. We use it for backs, tops, necks and lot's of other things as well. ( note I say the material and I refer to the pith that appears in the pictures ) We've also sawn, resawn, and kiln dried in access of 50,000 board feet of walnut.....in 40 years so I do think we know a little about walnut.



walnut neck, back,and top

Rick Turner
08-25-2012, 05:28 PM
Kevin, we're on the same page...

I love walnut, as I do cherry. Both are hugely under-utilized in American instrument production (if I may use that hot buzz word here...). Of course, one of the main issues with both woods is that you have to carefully cut around pith and pitch pockets which are hardly an issue for any of the mahoganies, Central/South American or African, where you can get huge planks of clear wood...still...

08-26-2012, 07:59 AM
Blindness inflicted by European tradition has mostly dictated what wood is to be respectably used for what instruments, so we have been saddled with mahogany, rosewood, and sometimes maple. Not that there is anything wrong with them. Native stock is also scorned as common and unimportant. Too bad, I think. The Hawaiians switched to all-koa ukes as a nationalistic move to support the monarchy, but if I had koa trees in my back yard I wouldn't need much of a shove to start using it.

Back in the '70s I started building with birch because it was the cheapest hardwood locally available. I liked it. When I thought my work was worth it I moved up to cherry. Finally I arrived at walnut---wonderful stuff, but regarded by most as only fit for dulcimers. When I found a source for maple I quit using birch, it didn't seem quite as stabile as maple. Finally I found Willard Bros. in Trenton, NJ, and I had access to a huge variety of exotics. Today the idea of not having access to any wood seems laughable, but my stocks of native wood were well cherished just 30 years ago. Since then I've learned that oak makes a fine instrument, too. The final find was using Monticello yellow poplar to make H&D guitars. The wood looks wonderful and the guitars sound as good as any. I don't think any luthier can blame their wood for a crappy outcome, whatever they are using. Now we're all after the wood that offers the most eye candy, but its beginning to feel pretty irrelevant to me.

Opening the minds of the buying public is a whole other issue, but even there things seem to be changing for the better.

Rick Turner
08-26-2012, 08:17 AM
Many highly coveted Loar era mandolins and L-5 archtop guitars have birch backs and sides, and Adirondack spruce was a relatively local wood.

08-26-2012, 12:43 PM
Birch was slandered in most minds by the cheapo Chicago makers during the '30s-'50s, I think. I like to see them, but I don't think many people covet them. There was only one Loar.

I have some of the Monticello yellow poplar, as well as a contract with Monticello to use it. I'm definitely thinking ukes. H&D gets $15,000 for the guitars. I'm not sure what anyone will pay for a uke that was planted by Thomas Jefferson. Its only poplar, but its some of the rarest wood in the world in the historical sense.

08-26-2012, 01:45 PM
Looks like you could get a couple of small neck blanks and maybe some small backs and sides out of the board. it just depends on how that nasty spot creeps through the board.

Rick, I agree on walnut/cherry/maple/sycamore/birch etc...That plus myrtle and port orford cedar pays the bills.