Anatomy of a Black Tiger

Section 1: Walnut Logs

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Walnut Logs from an Amish Farm in Gettysburg, PA.


Walnut logs being hauled from the logging site in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Wood from these logs will not be used for at least 5 years.


The logs are transferred to a smaller truck with a boom and then brought into the mill for sawing.

Walnut logs as they lay on the ground waiting their turn.

Walnut logs as they lay on the ground waiting their turn.


This log is nice and round so it is able to be debarked without disturbing the wood.

Sawing in progress. Some logs, if unfigured, will be cut thicker for solidbody wings.

Sawing in progress. Some logs, if unfigured, will be cut thicker for solidbody wings.

Flitches are kept in sets as they are sawed.

Flitches are kept in sets as they are sawed.


Figured Walnut is on the horizon! Two separate limbs form the crotch at the top of the butt log. This odd shaped log will be sawn horizontally to leave the crotch intact throughout the flitch.


Logs are measured to estimate yield before cutting.


Crotch Walnut flitches (sold by the set) are stacked and ready for shipping.

Section 2: “Hunting” the Black Tiger


Recent shipments of Black Walnut Lumber includes Crotch Flitches, 8/4 Solid Body Lumber and 4/4 Lumber for Top, Back & Core Sets. Ken will process this walnut, piece by piece to insure the best yield & highest figure possible for the “Black Tiger” Basses.


Here, Ken “Lays Out” a piece of Crotch Walnut with BSR templates.


Defects and cutting areas are roughly marked.

Although this piece had 4 square feet in it, yielding more than 2 Tops will be a challenge. Defects and cracks pop up everywhere you look. This is what makes the Black Tiger so challenging to produce. Most wood cutters throw the crotch away. We ask them to save these pieces, so we can hunt down the rare figure that sometimes will yield a masterpiece. Ken makes the basic cutting area larger, leaving all possibilities intact. Since you don’t know what you will find inside after splitting, you want to be as cautious as possible. This particular piece has only a small area without defects, and will most likely yield only 1 top. The good news is it will be an Exhibition Grade- perfectly balanced highly figured feathered crotch.
Note: Defects, splits and figured sections are waxed within a day of receiving the lumber. This is to prevent further splits or checks while drying.


These crotch logs are Flitch cut. Several consecutive pieces will be sliced from the same log. Here is the previous piece cut. The yield varies from piece to piece within the flitch. This piece had slightly less defects and will yield 2 pieces. One, a Feather Crotch and the other, a flamed piece.


After the pieces are trimmed, planed & rewaxed they are stickered (stacked with spacers) for air drying, for a minimum of 2 years.


Two finished examples. 1.) Flamed 2.) Crotch

From this lumber, we also yield core sets, heel blocks & solid body sets. The defects that are trimmed away will be used in our wood burning furnace.

Section 3: Walnut Inventory

Kiln Dried – Inventory
(We have 2-3 years worth of Kiln Dried Walnut Lumber received between 1995 & 1998.)


1995-96 Inventory – Solar Kiln Dried


1998 Inventory – Figured Lumber (Kiln Dried Stock)


1998 Inventory – Kiln Dried Stock

Air Dried – Inventory
We have years and years of Black Walnut Air Drying in our wood room.
(Even though 1-2 years is adequate for Air Drying, our Walnut will dry for at least 4-5 years till we actually need it.)

1998 Inventory – Air drying Black Walnut Lumber (Bark Included!)

Air drying stock of Black Walnut Top & Back pieces. Some of this is Black Tiger inventory.


1998-1999 Inventory – Black Walnut core sets; cut, waxed & stacked for air drying.

~New Shipment of Crotch Walnut 10/04/01~


Gotta make sure the template will clear all defects.


Ken tallying lumber as it’s received and stacked. Waxing and stickering is next.