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Old 10-30-2012, 04:18 AM   #16641
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Hey Viking I have so questions about chestnuts, the trees are quite rare around here. I understand that a blight just about wiped them out. My sister used to own a house that had two big trees. I picked picked up a few and ate them, nice flavor, a little later I went back got some and they were impossible to bite they were so hard. And I have never had them, never even seen them, but have heard of people roasting them. Is there a certain time frame that you have to eat them. Please educate me about chestnuts.
Lot to cover.

Where is your sister's house located? The American Chestnut was nearly wiped out by the Chestnut Blight that was first discovered in the Bronx Zoo in 1904 I believe. An isolated surviving stand was discovered some 20 years ago I believe in Pennsylvania, the American Chestnut Foundation and another outfit whose name escapes me at the moment are using these trees to try and restore the historic trees to the wild using a method called back-crossing.

Chestnuts are highly perishable, and do harden like rocks when dried (you must have tried one in the fall when they were fresh). The true American Chestnut (of which I have 4 trees that survived the blight due to their isolation in CA where they were introduced) is the sweetest of all of the varieties (there are many).

You can find them in stores around this time of year, but most of them are shipped from overseas and not properly stored at the right temperature (32 degrees F) during shipping, so by the time they get to market most of them are rotten, or well on their way. They are also mostly the modern hybrids (most commonly Collassal) much like most produce in the stores these days. If you are very lucky a store around you will have some from Italy that tend to be better. Or maybe California.

My trees are 100-150 years old. The best of the Heirloom varieties.
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Old 10-30-2012, 04:19 AM   #16642
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So, is chestnut a better looking wood than black walnut? I mean what's the big deal about chestnut? I'm not talking about the fruit, I'm talking about the wood itself.

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Old 10-30-2012, 04:19 AM   #16643
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Hey Tex, what do you think of cypress knees for knife handle slabs? Soft, and a bit spongy, but I'm thinking if done right, they should over excellent grip purchase, and they have a cool grain.
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Old 10-30-2012, 04:23 AM   #16644
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Well in that case, you are forgiven. Your cousin, not so much.
I'm not his biggest fan... So it's okay, I've been mad at him for 7 years now, and I usually don't hold grudges, too much work.
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Old 10-30-2012, 04:32 AM   #16645
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Chestnut wood is beautiful. Highly rot and insect resistant (high in tannic acid) and quite strong, though not really all that hard. It carves well (I've done some carvings out of it). Back in the day it was called "The Redwoods of the East" as it was used for everything from construction to fence posts and railroad ties. I have some fence posts around my orchard that have obviously been in the ground for near 100 years and still holding up well. The Chestnut was an eastern tree, so it was not found west of the Mississippi River except in the deep South but its original coverage was from Canada down to the Gulf Coast. It was said that they were once so numerous that a squirrel could travel from Maine to Florida without touching the ground and staying solely in chestnut trees.

They did not naturally occur west of the Mississippi, but they were introduced widely over the past few hundred years, including here in CA and all over the West Coast, but the trees out here were used almost exclusively for the nuts as there are other native trees that are more suitable for lumber (redwood is the most widely used lumber in these parts in old buildings- our original house was 100% old growth redwood, old barns are also redwood).
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Old 10-30-2012, 04:37 AM   #16646
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Hey Tex, what do you think of cypress knees for knife handle slabs? Soft, and a bit spongy, but I'm thinking if done right, they should over excellent grip purchase, and they have a cool grain.
I don't know much about cypress, but I think it would work. If you think it is too soft, you can always harden it.
There are a lot of commercial hardeners out there, or you can use thin CA glue (basically superglue on steroids). I would avoid using CA glue around cottons (this means paper towels too). They do NOT react well together and can be a fire hazard. Not to mention letting off some serious horrible fumes.
CA glue can also cause irritation to your nose/lungs if you inhale it's fumes, or dust from it. Speaking from experience, it burns like hell. I would also avoid direct contact with it. It dries very quickly when exposed to skin. Plus, it get hot when it cures(depending on what it's drying one. Remember the cotton thing?), so it can burn you.
CA usually soaks into the wood pretty easily, so you could just shape the grips, then use the CA to harden it (just squirt it on it, and let it soak in. Try to get even coats, and it will be want to run) Once the glue is hard, you can sand it smooth, then finish. CA can be a headache to work with though. There are better choices out there.
If you don't mind sending the grips off, you can also have them stabilized. Basically what they do is submerge the wood in resin, then they put it under pressure for several hours. When it dries, it is very hard, polishes to a shine, and is very smooth. It doesn't cost too much to have this done, but it's been awhile since I looked at prices. This is probably the best way to do it in my opinion. I would not shape the grips before hand though (I'd be worried about possible warping). It would be better to have the wood sized, and then shape it after it is stabilized)

These grips were made from stabilized cypress burl.

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Old 10-30-2012, 04:41 AM   #16647
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I'm not his biggest fan... So it's okay, I've been mad at him for 7 years now, and I usually don't hold grudges, too much work.
Dang, He must have done something REALLY bad.

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Chestnut wood is beautiful.
I agree. Very beautiful. I wish it wasn't so much per BF.

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Old 10-30-2012, 05:17 AM   #16648
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I agree that the chestnut is beautiful wood, wish we had some around here. We do have the black walnut though, it makes great gun stocks.

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Old 10-30-2012, 05:28 AM   #16649
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I got a lot of black walnut around me. One tree is very old, was by an old barn my dad burnt down, I tried like hell to talk him out of it. It was in my family on my moms side since it was built. I have some of the beams from it though, mostly ash and elm.
The tree is still hanging on, but its got some bigger branches that are dying. I've heard that the best grain in black walnut is from when a tree recently died, and from just below the surface of the topsoil. Can anyone confirm this?
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:40 PM   #16650
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Interesting! I think i will have to go check out the chestnut tree at my sister's old house. All i remeber is picking up some things that looked like hedgehogs or something for my sis.
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