We’ve not met anyone yet that didn’t appreciate Walnut timber.
Walnut’s one of those timber species that people have at the top of their Christmas lists when they’re thinking of making something special.
It carries a lot of weight in a design for furniture or interior joinery aesthetically but it also gets the job done in terms of service and function.
Here’s the low down on it’s particular Walnut-ty qualities…
What’s in a name?
Well, Walnut timber comes from one of two variations of the Juglandaceae tree family. Our English and European stock is from the same Juglans regia tree and our Black Walnut is Juglans nigra tree. It’s also known as N.Am Walnut because that’s where a lot of this tree species is grown, but it’s also grown across Europe so if you’re interested in the provenance of your timber it’s worth checking origins.
Bear with us, because when it comes to descriptions on this particular species of timber can be a little schizophrenic as there two different trees involved!
So, English/Eu Walnut has a very varied grain pattern, it can be really swirly and wild (think gnarly growing trees) with sound knots incorporated into the flow of grain. It’s colouring is softer brown with contrasting cream sap. It’s sometimes a bit mousey until finished, but the more exciting boards are mixed with red-dy orange and give a bit of a vivid highlight to the grain. Sometimes the European is steamed to try to even out (flatten) the colouring which can be useful (?) but mainly just flattens the colour…we don’t want that do we?
Black Walnut has a purple-y chocolate brown colouring, usually with a strong grain pattern but mostly quite straight. It’s harder to find wild patterns here because the trees just grown bigger and straighter (darn those straight growing trees!). But ‘bigger’ can be a good sign… we’ve had some Juglans Regia recently that makes 800mm wide boards… that’s a tabletop right there! And of course the lengths are larger for this species too.
Workability of Walnut timber
Timber of either walnut species works well with machine or hand tools but of course the grain pattern is going to play a part. That wild swirlyness needs more attention as the grain will be going in all directions. It’s hard and strong (if it were bigger and less swirly we’d all be using it for structural work!) and good for turning and carving. It is difficult to treat (acid content & density), being fairly dense and also moderately durable timber. It has medium moisture movement (beware trapped moisture in dense uneven grained timbers). The right glues and polishes work successfully.
Waney edge boards go from 20mm to 80mm in Thickness, currently up to 940mm in Width and up to 4.3m in Length which is pretty gargantuan for Walnut!
Walnut timber is a specialist hardwood that is mainly used for furniture and interior joinery, although having said that it is durable and could be used externally too. So if you feel like creating something special we dare you to use it for external timber cladding.. we think that’d be amazing!
Our Walnut Timber stock is mixed, we keep Kiln Dried waney edge and square edge although we’re stocking more waney edge than ever to serve our furniture makers better. We find waney edge gives more value for money as well as more creative choice and opportunity to differentiate for our customers. There is always a chance we have some boules air drying too, so if you need a higher moisture content or you want to buy complete boules for stock these might suit you.