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Old Walnut Tree

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  • Old Walnut Tree

    My family owns a house that is over 130 years old. It is being rented out and the renter says that the old walnut tree is diseased and that his friend will remove it without charge. My elderly father may have given him the go-ahead and I am getting sick about it. I haven't seen it for a few years but it is a large tree with great big burl areas. The trunk is probably 30" diameter or more.

    I would like to rent a portable bandsaw mill like the "Woodmizer" and take care of it myself "no charge." It would be great to have a supply of walnut lumber stored away for my special tool chest project.

    Does anyone have any rough estimates of what a large black walnut tree could be worth?

    I would ask this on some wood-site but we all know that the best advice on most everything is available RIGHT HERE with guys that know about wood AND metal.

    Thanks alot,


    [This message has been edited by SJorgensen (edited 08-18-2005).]

  • #2
    I suspect renter and buddy plan on making a few bucks on the deal.


    • #3
      It could be. All the glass doorknobs have been replaced. The antique switchplates are gone. One of a pair of antique chandeliers has been replaced and is missing. I was there a couple of weeks ago but I didn't think to look at the old tree.


      • #4

        It could be worth thousands. I'm not kidding.
        "Stumpage" value is as it sits,
        More when it is felled and bucked.
        More still when it is sawed into boards.
        More still IF seasoned properly.
        Less if left to mold, warp, and check.

        Figure a piece 2'x2.5'x8 feet has about 400 board feet, when sawn. If the tree is as old as you say, it should have much more wood than that. If it yields #1 common, 4/4 thick, just that 400 board feet will bring about $3 per foot. That's $1200 right there.

        You can get an idea here:
        Ed Bryant


        • #5
          last time I paid for black walnut it was over $4.25 a board foot
          NRA member

          Gun control is using both hands


          • #6
            Close to 30 years ago a company offered my mother $30K per tree, about the same size. Figure inflation since 1973 and you've got the answer.


            • #7
              I think the value could vary a lot, depending on the tree. If it is diseased, and has been so a long time it could have a lot of decay. Generally speaking the best saw timber is obtained from trees growing in forested areas which promotes long straight trunks with few limbs, yielding two, three, or four nice long saw logs.

              Not to say that your tree would not yield quite a bit of good lumber, but often individual shade trees can be disappointing.
              Lynn (Huntsville, AL)


              • #8
                <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SJorgensen:
                glass doorknobs....antique switchplates....antique chandeliers .</font>
                All hot commodities in the home restoration business. Sounds to me like the tennants are cleaning house in more ways than one.


                • #9
                  Oh boy here's one I have had lots of experience with!

                  First the only way it would bring anything over $3,000 is if it were good enough for veneer.My grandfather in Ohio sold a 38" butt walnut venner log for $18,000 about six years ago.
                  If it has burled sections,it by the nature of burl formation most likely either had damage or disease in it's life which greatly dcreases it's value as a venner log,unless the burls themselves are large enough to be sliced.
                  From having cut many yard trees for lumber over the years I can tell you from experience that more than likely there will be some metal in it.Expect to buy more than one bandsaw blade.Last log I had milled was a 38" but x 16' Sycamore,the saw charge was $140,the blade charge was $90,we trashed 4 blades.For the $230 I did get about 600 bf of useable lumber,but I also wound up with a lot of fire wood.

                  If it's an American black walnut,disease might be possible,but not insect predation,gypsyie moths and pith worms don't touch it,it is after all poison.

                  I would check out the story to see if it really is diseased,might be BS.

                  It might also intrest you to know,that Black Walnut as a tree has one neat feature.Once a young tree is established and is able to recieve full sunlight it produces and releases a toxin into the soil and kills off the surrounding compition for sunlight and water,neat huh?
                  I just need one more tool,just one!


                  • #10
                    A few observations from a guy who has been buying/drying/using/selling black walnut [part-time] for about 50 years.

                    #1: I highly recommend that you do your homework before letting anybody take this tree just for 'free'. Potential sources of on-site advice/appraisal: timber buyers, saw mill owners/operators, foresters, your local/regional ag extension folks, forestry dept of universities, etc. Given the possible value of the tree, a professional 'on-site appraisal' would probably be money well invested before making a decision.
                    #2: Sight unseen, I would not venture a guess at the value of the tree. It could be worth a few thousand or nearly worthless. There are simply too many unknown variables.
                    #3: As pointed out earlier, if grown around buildings, it might be full of serious metal: I've seen chains, old flat irons, etc. neatly embedded in walnut trees that grew near human activities.
                    #4: while top quality, dried walnut lumber can bring good money, the price on the stump is far, far lower. If beef steak costs $6.00 per pound, it doesn't mean that the farmer/rancher gets $5.00 per pound on the hoof. The same is true with wood: getting a sound tree from the stump into clear, KD wood at the local lumberyard requires a lot of risk, labor, time, transportation, energy, ROI, profit, etc.
                    Best wishes,


                    • #11
                      Why don't you see if it really is dieaesed first before you go cutting it down.
                      Non, je ne regrette rien.


                      • #12
                        I think you would be foolish to have the tree cut down without first looking in the phone book for a small lumber dealer to come out and look at it. The trunk alone, if in an area of good drainage and strong breezes would bring better than a grand for gun stock wood. The trunk is where the most desirable wood is for gun stalk makers. Gun Walnut is hard to find in really nice figured stock. Some deseases increases the value of wood such as spalted maple. A fungus leaves a very attractive black line thruout the wood. It's very expensive for that reason.

                        High end furniture makers do not generally look for arrow straight grain as many feel it lacks any sort of character. My Cherry dinning room table I built has half split knots in it and everyone loves it for the character.

                        You could easily have a $5,000 tree in your yard. No ****. It won't cost you much to make a few phone calls. Don't stop calling at the first refusal. That just means you reached someone like Home Depot and they don't care to mess with it. High end furniture makers (the kind who use walnut) don't buy their wood from big dealers but rather small sawyers. Don't give it away for the taking!


                        [This message has been edited by Your Old Dog (edited 08-19-2005).]
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                        Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                        It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


                        • #13
                          I assume you have kicked this renter out? I would start asking questions about all the missing items. How large a deposit did you make them put down.

                          Tell him to GTFO!

                          James Kilroy
                          James Kilroy


                          • #14
                            If petty theft is occuring, the priority here is to get rid of the thief FIRST.

                            Worry about the tree later.

                            If, as it sounds, you are seeing items disappear then you can be assured that much more has disappeared that you are not aware of. There are some renters who pick the carcass of an old house clean and then a "mysterious fire" occurs to cover their tracks. An even worse fate is for the location to become a meth lab and the owner is stuck for clean up costs after the tenant suddenly disappears.

                            My guess based on your discussion is that the tree is in good health except for the dollar signs hanging on it.

                            You may have already waited too long to address this "problem".

                            Let us know how it turns out and good luck.



                            • #15
                              Take it away for free?

                              here is a link to a few walnut slabs-