Scientific Name: Juglans nigra
Other Common Names: Black walnut, American walnut, American black walnut.
Growing Regions: Throughout the eastern United States and Canada.
Characteristics of Tree: Walnut trees attain a height of 100 to 120 feet and diameters of 24 to 36 inches.
Characteristics of Wood: Walnut is a hard, dense wood with a tight grain pattern. The heartwood is light brown to dark brown, with a sapwood that looks like dirty cream. However, the amount of sapwood in comparison to the amount of heartwood is modest for a hardwood. The variability of walnut’s grain makes it attractive. Everything from fountain-like crotches and swirls to wavy fiddleback and striped grain is possible.
Finishing Characteristics: Finishing black walnut in anything other than a clear varnish, shellac, oil or lacquer requires extra care and experience. If you have some experience staining wood, you’ll find walnut accepts stain nicely, without the blotchiness associated with some stock such as birch, maple and pine.
Workability: In general, black walnut is easy to work, and complications are usually limited to individual boards instead of entire batches. Because black walnut trees often grow in the open, a lot of tension can build up in the wood. When released in the woodworking processes, this tension can bind up saw blades, particularly when ripping. Walnut’s good woodworking and sanding qualities make it a relatively easy wood to turn.
Common Uses: Furniture, woodturning, cabinet making, architectural paneling, gunstocks, decorative veneer
Special Features: Black walnut burl has a distinct pattern and usually shows a wide contrast in color. Burls and crotches in veneer form are more stable, much easier to work with, and much more likely to be available in veneer than in solid lumber form.
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