Natural Edge Planks

Next project. A desk. Natural edged. Nakashima style. So... here I stand, many phone calls and short road trips into the search for just the right plank of wood. Sifting through piles of black walnut. Some air dried, some kiln dried, some a little of both.

We live and work on the fringes of the black walnut tree's natural range. It covers most of the eastern half of the United States, but less than a third of Minnesota, mainly in the southeast corner. In this part of the country, these beautiful trees can reach a height of 100 feet, or so, with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. The reality is that due to their high demand, they normally get logged long before they reach that milestone.

Some local walnut is cut from the urban landscape; perhaps growing too close to someone's house, or maybe it is right in the middle of a new addition that's being planned. I've heard that some of the walnut sold in Minnesota these days comes from Nebraska, where the logging of black walnut makes room for more corn.

After searching through stacks and stacks of planks, I found what I was looking for. Now I need to do a little research to see if I can learn more about where the planks came from. Here they are in the photo below!

Both planks are from the same log, but aren't a book matched set. It looks like they came from different sides of the tree. The color is great. Beautiful variation across the width of the planks, punctuated by the high contrast of the sapwood.

I took the planks back to the shop and had a good chance to look them over closely. The one on the left has beautiful straight grain and will work nicely for the base. The plank on the right, while containing a significant natural flaw about 2/3 of the way down the plank, holds potential for a very nice top for the desk. At 89 inches long and 20 to 22 inches in width at the midsection, there should be plenty of material here for this piece.

There is one risk factor yet to be dealt with, however. That's resawing the right-hand plank for the top. It's a good 3 1/4" thick, but has a slight cupping to it across the width. What I can't accurately predict is how much the wood will move after its thickness is cut in half. I'm hoping to end up with about 1 1/8" in final thickness of the top.

The only way to find out is to make the cut and see what happens.

Hej då, and happy shavings!

Craig