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#1
Old 04-09-2009, 07:22 PM
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Black walnut trees. How do I sell them?

I know this might be a weird question, but as I understand it, black walnut is a very valuable wood, especially for carpenters and cabinet makers. I have a large number of the trees on my property and would like to get rid of them. They are dirty, very few plants can grow with them, and the nut pods are a pain to clean up every fall.

Cutting them down is an easy enough solution, but I'd like to put the wood to good use if I could. It seems like such a waste to cut the trees down, and either throw the wood away in a recycling area in my town or cut it up and burn it.

I'd like to sell them to someone who would use them, but how would I go about finding a person to buy them? Also, does anyone know of the price I could expect to get for a tree? I'm guessing they would pay by the foot, and I have a number of trees over 100 ft.

Is there a trade organization or craftsman group that exists that I could address this question to, or is my best bet to call random custom cabinet makers in the area? Or maybe a saw mill?

Thanks for any suggestions.
#2
Old 04-09-2009, 07:36 PM
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Black walnut wood is not all that valuable unless the trees have relatively high quality potential re straightness of grain and ability to be made into furniture quality board stock.

See Selling Black Walnut Yard Trees
#3
Old 04-09-2009, 07:48 PM
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Thanks, astro.

And before I get the "google is your friend" snark, I did google this before asking the question to the board. (and I found the reference that astro has linked to.)

I found some information, but mostly in the form of "your tree isn't as valuable as you think" variety.

And I'm in PA, if that helps any.

Last edited by crypto; 04-09-2009 at 07:49 PM. Reason: because I felt like it
#4
Old 04-09-2009, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stink Fish Pot View Post
Or maybe a saw mill?
Right - call around. In most areas there are sawmills that buy logs (you need one fairly near, as transportation costs tend to be significant). They typically pay by log volume (length * cross-section) with species and quality having a huge effect on price. With the current slowdown in home building, demand for flooring, cabinetry and furniture (some of the big hardwood markets) is down, so prices for many species are, too.

Cutting trees is often tricky (and thus not cheap), especially if buildings or wires are nearby. If you have a meaningful quantity of desirable timber that's easily cut and close to a road, it won't be hard to find interested loggers, who will offer you a price and then do all the work. Their interest and offered price will decline when these factors aren't present.
#5
Old 04-09-2009, 08:26 PM
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How big are they? As in feet tall? I would call the saw mills as suggested and have that info on hand. Get the girth too. If not used for furniture it could be used for finish work.
#6
Old 04-09-2009, 08:33 PM
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Before you do any cutting or chopping down of the trees, contact your local agricultural extension agent. Even though they are your trees on your property, you need to find out if there is an agricultural lien on them.
#7
Old 04-09-2009, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Duckster View Post
Before you do any cutting or chopping down of the trees, contact your local agricultural extension agent. Even though they are your trees on your property, you need to find out if there is an agricultural lien on them.
Also in some states if a tree is above a certain diameter it's considered a "monument tree" of sorts (I forget the exact word) and you need permission to cut it down.

Last edited by astro; 04-09-2009 at 08:48 PM.
#8
Old 04-09-2009, 10:10 PM
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Mongo logging in...ha!

Similar situation in the southeast corner of PA several years ago.

I called a sawmill about two black walnuts. The mill was just west of Belair MD. They told me to cut them as low as possible and cut them again as high as I could at the first branch. This was their best piece and the longer it was the more money I would get. One tree was about 12' to the first branch and the smaller was 8'. The rest of the tree the brought some discounted rate.

I borrowed a roll up tow truck so I could tip the bed and use the winch to get them on, cut the trees and took it all to them. I can't remember if we took two trips or not but it's a lot of weight.

They paid $800 total. They were happy and I was happy.
#9
Old 04-09-2009, 10:52 PM
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great information, everyone!

I have about 20 total. I used to have about 30, but lost a significant number to a windstorm a year ago. Thank goodness they fell in the opposite direction of the house.

As for the height, I'm going to wag and say that half of them are between 80-100 feet tall. They are significant trees, tall and straight. The smallest is about 20 feet tall, and I'd say 5-7 of them may not have much worth, as there is a low branch, significant bend, etc, that based on some of my reading in this thread and on the web would indicate that they have little value. Still, I think the trip may be worth it for a mill to get the big, straight ones.
#10
Old 04-10-2009, 12:44 AM
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A friend of mine did this years ago, from what I recall of the conversation, the diameter had a huge impact on the price.
#11
Old 04-10-2009, 12:54 AM
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In my area its difficult to make a profit on any trees around a house. Typically the best deal you get is they don't charge you to cut them down and take them away. The local mills are reluctant to accept anything they has been close to a residence because the high chance an eye bolt from and old clothes line or nail from a tree fort could make it into their mill and damage their equipment.
#12
Old 04-10-2009, 04:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boytyperanma View Post
In my area its difficult to make a profit on any trees around a house. Typically the best deal you get is they don't charge you to cut them down and take them away. The local mills are reluctant to accept anything they has been close to a residence because the high chance an eye bolt from and old clothes line or nail from a tree fort could make it into their mill and damage their equipment.
I'm not sure I quite get this. Surely the potential for damage to equipment would mean they would not want to take the timber at any price? Unless of course it's BS and they're just trying to get the wood on the cheap....
#13
Old 04-10-2009, 08:27 AM
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Mills can easily scan timbers for metal, and do it for all timber, no matter where it came from (unless it came screened already). Someone is always screening it. Metal detectors are quite ubiquitous now.
#14
Old 04-10-2009, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy View Post
I'm not sure I quite get this. Surely the potential for damage to equipment would mean they would not want to take the timber at any price? Unless of course it's BS and they're just trying to get the wood on the cheap....
Yeah they are doing so to get the lumber on the cheap and it can be very BS but not always. They have some reason to do so. Trees from residences end up being far less profitable then harvesting forest lumber. Time involved in interacting with customers for a few trees, insurance liability for potential property damage. potential for damage to their equipment from various man made obstacles etc. Its far cheaper for them to go into a forest and knock over whatever they want as fast as they want and have little chance of man made impurities.

Yes metal detectors are standard practice in modern mills. They are not 100% reliable and do not detect everything that has potential to damage equipment. Even when metal is detected it can decrease the value of the lumber because they may need to make less profitable cuts to avoid the obstacle.
#15
Old 04-10-2009, 11:51 AM
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One possibility is to cut down the trees and hire a portable saw mill to convert the trees to lumber. Usually they'll do this for a fixed price per linear foot of board. You can then stack and air dry the boards or get them kiln dried (preferred). It's lots of work but probably maximizes your overall profit.

Being in PA is probably both a plus and a minus. It's a heavily forested state with a significant hardwood industry so black walnut is not particularly hard to come by. At the same time, there's going to be a lot of people with the skills and tools to harvest the wood.

One other point -- a lot of the wood that's no good for board lumber may be valuable to wood turners. To turn a bowl or a vessel you only need a short section of tree without defects (or with interesting defects such as burls). So if you cut the wood into bowl blanks and cover the end grain with wax or wood sealer to prevent checking, you might be able to flog the wood on EBay or Craigslist.
#16
Old 04-10-2009, 11:57 AM
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UK Prices

It's interesting to consider how much this timber would be worth if it were here in the UK. My local timber yard will source almost any hardwood, all at similar prices. A foot-inch (not exactly, but close to), or about 1" x 1" x 1' costs 60p. So a six foot plank of a hardwood is something like $50. Essentially it's pine or nothing.
#17
Old 04-10-2009, 12:17 PM
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Woodweb's Sawing and Drying forum ( http://http://woodweb.com/cgi-bin/forums/sawdry.pl ) has a wealth of information on this subject. They also have links that will help you find a sawyer in your area.

Woodmizer ( http://woodmizer.com/us/index.aspx ) used to keep a directory of sawyers that owned their mills, but I couldn't find it at a quick glance.

It should be pretty easy to find a small bandsaw mill owner close to you willing to buy the trees. However, as previously mentioned, the possibility of tramp metal will reduced the price a little. Also, I've read that prices are pretty depressed now due to the slack in home construction.

Be aware, though, that the urban (or rural) myth about the pile of money people were paid for walnut trees is based on the rare occurrence of someone selling a veneer quality tree. For that to happen, you have to have long, straight, knot-free trunks of a fairly large diameter.

If you were closer to East Texas, I would offer to buy them from you. I love the stuff.
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