Builders cut down tree for a commercial building.

Asked January 31, 2017, 11:54 PM EST

How long do I have to season a log 10 inch in diameter X 4 feet? One is hickory the other is black walnut. I want to use the wood. I polyurethaned the ends 5 days (three times) after it was cut but I still see one small crack along the diameter in both logs.

New Haven County Connecticut

3 Responses

Are you hoping that by sealing the ends and waiting for drying to occur that you will be able to avoid cracks? That would seem virtually impossible. The wood will shrink 1.7 x more in the tangential direction (a 90 degree direction to radial) than radial (from a point on the outside of the log toward the log center). That means for a 10" diameter log, checks will be very hard to avoid. You can find an image of radial vs. tangential at

Where will a log lose moisture during drying? Through the ends as well as through the outside of the log. You sealed the ends of the logs to slow the rate of drying.. If you also left the bark on the log, you will further slow the rate of drying in that direction. The end sealing may reduce some of the checking - but it will also mean that the drying will take a very long time.

You should consider how you plan to use the wood. If it will be sawed up as lumber, it would be better to do that soon and dry the boards (with end-seal). Depending on the thickness of the boards, you may be looking at 8 months to over a year for individual boards to dry, assuming that they are stacked in a manner that will allow air to flow into and through the pile. If you are planning to use it in log form, it likely will take years to dry and end checks will likely form anyway.

Thanks Charlie for the response. I was reading some more on this website and I see what you are saying. One expert was saying the sooner you mill the logs the better and then let them dry. I was planning to make some axe handles and some tool handles with the hickory and whatever came into my mind for the black walnut. You know I was surprised to see the only the inner core of the tree was black walnut. But that's still interesting. ( I never cut one down)

Now that I have your attention, could I ask another question about Black Walnut ? I've always heard that squirrels eat the nuts and deer do too, but in my 65 years in CT I have never seen a squirrel or deer show any interest in these fallen nuts. And believe me CT has tons and tons of deer and squirrels. The nuts lay on the ground for ages. Now I know for sure that squirrels love to eat hickory nuts/pig nuts too and I've seen them eat some oak tree acorns, but never black walnut nuts. What do you think about this claim?

I assume that you do see squirrels carrying away walnuts when they are still in the green outer husk to eat or bury away from the tree. A neighbor has a walnut tree where I live which keeps the local squirrel population very busy for a while every fall. The squirrels serve as a great mechanism spreading the heavy seed away from the tree. Some of the buried seeds will germinate and become seedlings in the spring.

So, why don't squirrels pick up nuts which have fallen from the tree? Are squirrels taking nuts from the tree when they are still in their green shell and allowing others to fall, suggesting that they are selectively harvesting the nuts? Have you ever opened any of the fallen nuts to see what is inside? I wonder if the fallen and uneaten nuts may have small holes in them which have allowed the nut to dry prematurely or insects to enter. A small opening, or insects can cause a thin leathery material to develop inside of a nut instead of fleshy nut. That undeveloped nut would be of little interest to a squirrel.