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Black Walnut Uses

 
pollinator
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We have thousands of trees on our farm, many planted by my great great grandfather.  I’m learning to maintain a healthy woodland, and really just getting started.

This year we are harvesting a small number of black walnut trees for a) the health of the ecosystem and b) an income stream for a small family farm.

I would love to capitalize on the wood as a resource, income and otherwise. Can you help me build a list of all possible uses?

Here is a start:
*Dimensional lumber for building project.
*Knotty pieces and crotches for craft - bowl, spoon, other utensil, gun stock, etc.
*Root ball for special projects.
*Poles for fences around the homestead
*Small debris for weed suppressing mulch due to allellopathic properties.
*Leftover limb/log bits for mushroom cultivation.
*Planting walnuts for walnut nursery.
*Bare root trees for planting the next generation or for sale.
*Potted older trees for future replant or sale.

What other uses are out there? Medicinal extracts? Dyes for textiles? What about foliage? I would like to get creative and am excited for the challenge of honoring this resource to the highest degree possible.
black-walnut-stumps.jpeg
black walnut stumps
black walnut stumps
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black walnut limb
black walnut limb
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walnut branches
walnut branches
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untrimmed walnut limbs
untrimmed walnut limbs
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harvested black walnuts
harvested black walnuts
 
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Guitar back and sides (1/4 sawn) is probably one of the highest paying types of lumber from Black Walnut. (I pay 150.00 per set for top quality pieces already cut and dried from my wood supplier)

Wood Turners and Furniture makers will want pieces too.
 
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Hi Beau. You mentioned dye for textiles, but I've also heard of people using black walnut hulls as a natural hair dye. If you stuck it in fancy packaging with some directions there might be a market for it among people who are into natural beauty products.
 
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blanks for turning pens
 
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Dye from the hulls can dull the metal on coyote traps. Not sure how much of a market there might be for that specialized service/product.
 
Beau Davidson
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Guitar back and sides (1/4 sawn) is probably one of the highest paying types of lumber from Black Walnut. (I pay 150.00 per set for top quality pieces already cut and dried from my wood supplier)

Wood Turners and Furniture makers will want pieces too.



Thanks!  I've thought about this - I'm hoping to upgrade our chainsaw to include a decent mill mod, and would love to provide material for luthiers!  
 
Beau Davidson
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Audrey Lewis wrote:Hi Beau. You mentioned dye for textiles, but I've also heard of people using black walnut hulls as a natural hair dye. If you stuck it in fancy packaging with some directions there might be a market for it among people who are into natural beauty products.



I had never thought about hair dye.  I bet with some good branding there could be a market.  How long is the extract shelf stable I wonder?
 
Beau Davidson
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Jeff Marchand wrote:blanks for turning pens



I had to look that up - great idea!  I see on the market that they are all square.  Do you know if there would be a market for sections of smaller branches, bark stripped and cored?  Or do they need to be milled for some reason?
 
Beau Davidson
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Mike Barkley wrote:Dye from the hulls can dull the metal on coyote traps. Not sure how much of a market there might be for that specialized service/product.



Perhaps a broader application as a stain/treatment for metal in general, both for practical purposes like coyote traps and aesthetic purposes as well.  Great idea, thanks Mike!
 
Beau Davidson
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So far I've made a stool out of a three-limbed crotch, laid up the trunk for drying, set aside all the smaller limbs for small craft, stripped and organized the tiny branches for weed suppressant coverage, gathered all the hulls, and taken two of the larger limbs to start a front-porch addition to our small cottage. I stripped them, sharpened and charred the bottoms, sunk them 30 inches deep in a mix of the displaced soil, Borax, and DE.  The next phase will have to wait a couple weeks.
 
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Beau Davidson wrote:

Jeff Marchand wrote:blanks for turning pens



I had to look that up - great idea!  I see on the market that they are all square.  Do you know if there would be a market for sections of smaller branches, bark stripped and cored?  Or do they need to be milled for some reason?



Since a handmade pen is something to admire for it's beauty, I'm going to guess that one reason is that the grain is more interesting to look at when the blank is taken from a larger section of the tree (or a figured part of the tree like a crotch) rather than turned out of a whole round "branch section" as you describe (looking not too unlike how the grain of a telephone pole would look).
Another reason would be drying the blanks without them cracking radially. Turning wood with splits, voids, and natural edges is tricky/risky... and pen turning is more suited for novice turners...
It could be a good way to recover some lesser quality boards (knots, checks, voids, staining) by cutting around the defects.
There are resins for "stabilizing" woods so that they don"t splinter and crack and are still machinable.

On the other hand, defects are "in style" these days, with "live edge" tabletops, or filling in voids with colored epoxy...
 
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I don’t see the branches being useful for woodworking except for whittling. If there are any large pieces you end up saving, you may want to put fat, paint, or Anchor Seal on the end grain to prevent splitting. This is a must if the wood will be used for turning.
 
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I used to live where there were a lot of walnut trees.  I am not sure what kind they were other than maybe a native type.

A friend told me she would gather them and give them as Christmas gifts to use in BBQ smokers.  Your crate of the green ones reminded me of her.
 
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definately retail it yourself through internet to maximize profit,
 
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Branches/brush for wood chips or piled up to create critter habitat.

The walnut hulls also have worming effects for livestock if made into a tonic/extract.
 
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Black Walnut lumber is particularly useful for making strong but delicately sized things like mullions for glass doors in casework. It is also traditionally used as the material for the rockers on rocking chairs. Some say that it’s bad luck on a boat — not sure if there’s any correlation to it’s actual properties. It’s fairly expensive thanks to shortages brought about by WWII gunstalks and singer sewing company tables.

As stated above, limb material isn’t useful for boards. You really don’t want to try to make anything longer than twice the heartwood diameter out of limbs.  
 
pollinator
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Green walnut hulls soaked in alcohol produces a deworming/antiparasitic tincture for humans as well

Black Walnut nut meats are delicious and nutritious. Many nuts are becoming nut broths or nut flour and fetch a premium price in finished form. Cracking them is laborious, multistep process, which might be why the food products fetch a premium.

Lastly, I havent done it, but the trees are supposed to yield a syrup similar to maple if tapped and processed. But rarer and in certain culinary circles, fetch a premium.
 
pollinator
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^one note about making walnut syrup, though: apparently there's considerably more pectin in walnut sap than in maple. when i made walnut sap must (for experimental wine - not even taking it all the way to syrup) when it cooled after boiling it off it set up like ectoplasm. hoping to try again this year, pre-treating the sap with pectic enzyme.
 
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Walnut oil fetches a high price. Used in very small quantities in gourmet salads, or for the skin, it is great against fungal infections, psoriasis and general skin care.
 
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I see you're in Missouri. There's a company there that buys black walnuts by the ton for use in making candies and such. If your trees produce a steady crop, that would be one source of income.
 
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let them grow and find a lumber buyer... big BIG money from black walnut https://www.profitableplantsdigest.com/growing-walnut-trees-for-profit/
 
Beau Davidson
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Guitar back and sides (1/4 sawn) is probably one of the highest paying types of lumber from Black Walnut. (I pay 150.00 per set for top quality pieces already cut and dried from my wood supplier)



RedHawk, what thickness are you buying for your backs and sides?
 
Beau Davidson
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Gray Day wrote:The walnut hulls also have worming effects for livestock if made into a tonic/extract.



Do you have experience with this?  Are they boiled and strained, or can you just chunk the bits of hull into the waterer periodically?
 
Beau Davidson
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J Davis wrote:Green walnut hulls soaked in alcohol produces a deworming/antiparasitic tincture for humans as well

Black Walnut nut meats are delicious and nutritious. Many nuts are becoming nut broths or nut flour and fetch a premium price in finished form. Cracking them is laborious, multistep process, which might be why the food products fetch a premium.

Lastly, I havent done it, but the trees are supposed to yield a syrup similar to maple if tapped and processed. But rarer and in certain culinary circles, fetch a premium.



Thanks for these thoughts.  Have you prepared black walnut hull tinctures?  How long does the extraction take?

Regarding tapping trees, I'm very excited to try this as soon as things start to warm up.
 
Beau Davidson
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Lana Weldon wrote:Walnut oil fetches a high price. Used in very small quantities in gourmet salads, or for the skin, it is great against fungal infections, psoriasis and general skin care.



Super interesting.  I'm seeing it may have a shorter shelf-life, varying reports of between 3 months, as long as 12 months.  I wonder if there is a way to process it, or a natural additive that may stabilize it.
 
Beau Davidson
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:I see you're in Missouri. There's a company there that buys black walnuts by the ton for use in making candies and such. If your trees produce a steady crop, that would be one source of income.



We've actually just moved to Southern Kansas, a couple hours from the Missouri line.  

I looked it up - Hammons seems like a cool company, and there's hulling stations a few hours away.  I emailed them to inquire about serving as a buying/hulling station next harvest.  Thanks!
 
greg mosser
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Beau Davidson wrote:

Lana Weldon wrote:Walnut oil fetches a high price. Used in very small quantities in gourmet salads, or for the skin, it is great against fungal infections, psoriasis and general skin care.



Super interesting.  I'm seeing it may have a shorter shelf-life, varying reports of between 3 months, as long as 12 months.  I wonder if there is a way to process it, or a natural additive that may stabilize it.



refrigeration definitely helps!
 
Beau Davidson
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Things are moving along here in Black Walnut country. Just got a bucket for our John Deere 4020 which should help for certain applications. Waiting for a good 2nd hand mill nearby.

Meantime, per suggestions on this thread : Walnut Syrup! 1st go was a success in this ugly sort of rocket stove sap boiler. Yielded about a pint from 5 gallons, which came from 20 trees in 3 or 4 days.
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[Thumbnail for 4025DCC9-8412-4BF7-AE52-8F26B3BD3EB6.jpeg]
 
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