Appalachia Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Did You Know You Could Saw Black Walnuts Open to Get the Nuts?

black walnut saw

It was last December when David Berry first contacted me. He said he’d stumbled upon my post about Kenneth Roper’s handy dandy Black Walnut Cracker and wanted to see if I’d be interested in trying out his invention-a Black Walnut Saw. I said “SURE!”

Here is the story behind David’s saw:

“Years ago when I was a boy, I used to crack Black Walnuts for my mother. She used these for making pies and brownies. I especially remember the pies which were similar to Pecan Pies except the Black Walnuts were used in place of the pecans. These were delicious – I remember Mom using the recipe that was on the back of a Karo Syrup bottle. I believe the recipe is still on their Syrup bottles today.

The larger the kernels of nutmeat, the more attractive Mom’s pies were. I would always strive to crack the walnuts in order to yield the largest kernels possible. Also, I had to compete with a pet bantam chicken (I called her Banty) who was constantly in my way and was quick to peck up any small kernel-pieces that went flying when I was cracking the nuts.

I would spend at least 1 hour of hard work to crack out one cup of kernels. I had a large rock between the house and barn I could sit on and also use to crack the Black Walnuts. Black Walnuts have a thick and tough shell and do not give up the kernels easily. In order to get the best results, the nuts would be held carefully, with one of the pointed ends up, with one hand and you had to hit it rather hard with a hammer with the other hand. The combination of the rather rounded shape, balanced on end, held with thumb and finger, along with the slick hammer-head surface gave rise to frequent mishits and mashed fingers. If you tried to crack the nut by hitting it on its side, the kernels or nutmeat mostly end up smashed into mush. The absolute best you could do with a hammer was 5 pieces of kernels from one nut and this was rare – usually, 6 to 10 kernel-pieces per nut was the yield.

After, an engineering career in the OEM Automotive industry, I retired and moved back home to Northern Arkansas where I have a shop and time to “fiddle” with different projects of my choosing. One of the projects I decided to work on was an easier way to get large kernels from Black Walnuts. After 4 developmental prototypes, I believe I have now a good way for anyone to be able to get large kernels from black walnuts with ease.”


Black walnut saw david berry


It was February before David had his Walnut Saw production line up and running, and by the time I got the saw in the mail my black walnuts had mostly been cracked and eaten. The Deer Hunter and I couldn’t wait to try the saw and we rounded up some old black walnuts we’d stored by the wood stove in the basement. We never got the saw to cut the black walnuts in the manner needed to pop them in half like David’s video shows.

A few email exchanges with David left me thinking my walnuts were too old to use. Skip ahead to this fall.

Using david berrys saw to cut harvest black walnuts


As I worked up my black walnuts in October I couldn’t wait to give David’s saw another try. This go around, The Deer Hunter quickly realized it was easier to achieve good results on smaller nuts. After sawing and prying open all the small black walnuts he had the hang of how it all worked enough to move on to the larger black walnuts. On average black walnuts in this area are the size of hen eggs, at least the ones I have access to are.

The walnut saw david berry


I emailed David and told him we had achieved success with the saw and that using the smaller walnuts taught us how to move on to the larger walnuts. This was David’s reply:

“I have also learned a few things about the size of nuts that come from different geographical areas.  I have sold these units from the Atlantic to Utah and from Alabama to Quebec, Canada.  I find the nuts vary quite a lot in size based on the geographical area and I am now asking my customers to measure the height (distance from grain end-point to the opposite end-point).   Based on this measurement I can calibrate each saw for each customer.

Nuts from Utah are smaller than a Ping Pong ball and those from the Shenandoah Valley, VA are larger that a hen’s egg.

In approx. 1/3 of the time, I send an extra spacer (at no additional cost) to accommodate the different nut sizes.  In these cases. the safety guard is removed, the alternate spacer is changed out for sawing the larger nuts. These different spacers are the same thickness; however, the diameter is different.  A smaller diameter spacer allows the sawing blades to cut deeper.

Also, I encourage my customers to send me approx. 20 of their nuts.  I then calibrate the saw and send them their sawn-nuts back for their review, at no cost or obligation.  This way they can see what they will get before deciding to purchase. If you would like, I can send you another spacer if you would like.  I would encourage you to send me some of your larger nuts that did not seem to be sawn deep enough.


Once you get the hang of how the sawing and the prying open processes work, you really can get the nuts out in very large pieces if not entirely whole. And since the saw cuts the walnut instead of cracking it, there are none of those annoying little pieces of shell to get mixed in with your walnuts.

The Deer Hunter and I are really impressed with David’s Walnut Saw. I couldn’t believe how fast we were able to crack out the box of black walnuts I’ve had drying by the stove for the last several weeks. I wanted to go get Granny’s and impress her with the easy to pick out sliced open black walnuts, but when I called she said she’d already cracked all of hers.

I think being handy with saws and tools in general would make the operation of the walnut saw much easier. Lucky for me I have The Deer Hunter, someone who never met a tool he didn’t love. The saw has a guard on it and the manner in which you use it ensures you keep your hands and fingers away from the blade. David’s directions and video are excellent in their instructions, but even better than that is David’s willingness to answer any question you may have.

Jump over to David’s Walnut Saw Website and poke around. Make sure to read the information he provides and to watch the instructional video too.



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  • Reply
    Karen Evelyn
    May 1, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    We pay 1 penny each nut to have the neighbor kids pick up our black walnuts. Last couple of years we have had 5,000 to 10,000 nuts to pick up. We put them in the garbage and haul to the land fill. Next year we are sending nuts to David to see if our small nuts can be used to eat.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    I have to beg my sister for the walnuts I get. The cost is way too much for the amount she is willing to part with. My wife doesn’t like them and I crack and eat 8-10 at a time.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Good luck David on the Sawing Style Nutcracker. I started to build a more complicated Black Walnut Cracker, but my girls convinced me that the cost and and the Homeade Box made out of old timey Hickory would be more appealing to folks here in Appalachia. I’ve sent them boogers all over the U.S., even got a video from a nice couple way up in Minnesota, showing the ease of operations and that made me feel good. But I suppose as long as we have walnuts, folks will be trying to find easier ways of cracking…Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 12, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I expect you all know this but the size of walnuts varies by tree as well as by region. As far as I know, no-one has characterized black walnut nut variation but …. our former pastor’s Dad that I wrote an earlier post about has very definite opinions about some walnut trees not having good-tasting nuts. Guess it all adds up to saying there is a lot of walnut lore.
    Maybe some of the big name nut companies will want to use David’s patent when he gets it and automate the process. Then maybe black walnuts will be more readily available. We can hope anyway.
    Like some others, I think there must be a real crafting opportunity in the sawn shells. I’m just not ‘crafty’ enough to think of what-all they are.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I saw it! Two comments below my first one. PinnacleCreek said “goodie”. Now does she use a hairpin to pick them out with?

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Now you have me thinking, which can be quite dangerous. I wonder if David has thought of a plunge type setup with his saw. Couldn’t he make a conical shaped hole that any size walnut would fit in and bring the blades down to it. He could cut slots for the blades across the block that holds the nut. Or the whole mechanism could come down and/or slide horizontally like a chop saw. Just thinking.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    December 12, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Fascinating. And what a splendid creation from the mind and hand of Dave Berry.

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    December 12, 2015 at 11:13 am

    The black walnut tree behind my office generally feeds the squirrels. I just don’t have the patience to clean off the husks, dry the nuts, and then smash my fingers opening them. Maybe I’ll be able to talk my wife into ‘investing’ in this gadget! I have transplanted several black walnut saplings that the squirrels planted in inconvenient places, so there’s a nascent ‘walnut grove’ in the lower part of my side field. I planted them mainly to benefit some future woodworker, but they might produce nuts in commercial quantities someday.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 11:02 am

    I have seen black walnuts sawn like that to make jewelry like earrings, necklaces, belts, bolo ties, etc. but the nuts are cut all the way through. David’s device is ingenious but by the time a person buys it, the vice to hold it and the workbench to mount it on, you are talking about more money than the average person has to invest in a dedicated nutcracker. I wouldn’t even have a place to put it when its not in use. I suppose I could take it apart, put a disc on it and use it as a side grinder until next nut season but I would probably would have lost a vital piece in the process and be back to using the hammer and anvil again.
    I keep seeing nutmeat and kernel used to describe the edible part of a black walnut. Am I the only person left that calls them goodies?

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Wow,, I would have give one of my bicycles for one of those when I was a kid.. I hated cracking walnuts, took forever to get a hand full…. and you could not have traded me anything for my bicycles back then…

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 10:01 am

    What a truly marvelous invention. I gave up on walnuts years ago after suffering from the stain all over everything. I even learned to hope my walnut trees would not do well due to mowing and raking problem. But, this ole grouch certainly will keep this in mind, because I know people who go through the terrible ritual each year of trying to get the “goodie” our of those contrary hard shells.
    Maybe I have looked at too many little girl pendants this year, but cut walnuts look perfect for some type of craft.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 12, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Since we didn’t get any Black Walnuts this year..I will not be able to crack or saw any, “doggone it”! I think that David’s saw is a brilliant idea.
    I can just see rows of these at the Black Walnut Nut Factory, with quick nimble fingered ladies packaging whole kernels. I am sure they would be higher per 1/4 cup…I have never seen kernels that large for sale, only pieces!
    I still love my beautifully made Ken’s handy dandy Black Walnut nut cracker, with it’s gorgeous wooden tray that catch the nuts…If I crack them just so…we get some larger kernels as well.
    I love all types of nutcrackers and maybe we can purchase one of these in the future..
    Will it mount to a kitchen counter? We don’t have a nifty work shop table!
    Thanks Tipper….great post!
    PS…Being a crafter….I am wondering if that saw could be adjusted to saw the walnuts in slices for making belts, bolo tie grips, or glued together to make those beautiful walnut bowls?

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Gosh! The creative mind dwells to invent something so useful to those who are lucky enough to have these nuts. Often I use to find them around this area already cracked and ready for eating, but haven’t seen any for the last couple of years. I use to enjoy baking with them, but most of all, I liked to eat them just out of the shell. Thanks for the information!

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I just paid $4.99 for one cup of chopped Black Walnuts so I can make Tipper’s Black Walnut cake for Christmas. At an outrageous cost like that, David’s invention would be worth the cost if the buyer has access to free walnuts. I am blessed to have many of the nut producing trees here on the farm where the squirrels lay in wait for them to fall. However, the nuts are small-much smaller than a hen egg and maybe even smaller than a ping pong ball, making me and the squirrels work twice as hard.
    David, here in Kentucky we “piddle” after we retire.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 7:29 am

    I think this would be a good tool to have if one were cracking and shelling walnuts to sell. However, for the average person , the price is rather steep. I would have to crack a lot of walnuts to justify the cost.
    THanks for posting; it’s always nice to know what is out there.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 12, 2015 at 7:29 am

    That is amazing! We were all born with these remarkable tools called a mind. It can achieve some remarkable things when we take the time to use it. The results from David’s invention are certainly way ahead of a hammer and a rock.
    Thank you David and Tipper too!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 12, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Intresting, but I will continue to buy mine shelled. I would probably cut my arm off.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 5:04 am

    Sorry, I meant the various sizes of NUTS, not eggs – haha! It’s not yet dawn here and I guess I’m not quite awake yet.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 5:02 am

    What an interesting approach to a problem! Dave is one smart fella! I love that the holder is made of wood, and that there is a safety feature in the two-handed operation system so no fingers can wander near a moving blade.
    My eyes about popped when I read about the various sized of eggs. I had no idea Black Walnuts grow so big in other places! Of course, my hens lay huge eggs, so my frame of reference may be a little out of whack there. Still, you learn something every day 🙂

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