Wood series: What Is Walnut Wood Used For?

Apr 9, 2024 | wood knowledge

Celebrating the versatility of Walnut wood

In this series of articles, we’ll be delving into the applications and uses of various timber species that we stock.

You might think we’re just shameless and indiscriminate wood fanatics, but not all timber was created equal. Walnut really is a lovely one, balancing service and function with aesthetics.

So let’s take a closer look at the properties of this versatile timber as we answer questions, including what is Walnut wood used for?

What type of wood is Walnut?

Part of the Juglandaceae family, Walnut is a premium hardwood with a dense structure, celebrated for its colour, attractive wavy grain patterns and workability.

Our English and European Walnut stock is from the Juglans regia tree. It has a varied and irregular grain pattern – think swirly, mottled and knotted. Sapwood is often milky coffee colour. Heartwood tends to be a soft greyish or mousey brown although sometimes Walnut has a smoky brown or reddish-orange accent in the grain. By contrast, our black Walnut – from the Juglans nigra tree – has a cooler, deeper purple-brown colouration with a strong grain but fewer gnarly wild patterns.

We source from woodlands with long-term management plans that prioritise the health of the trees, the land and the wildlife to maintain a natural healthy balanced environment. When harvested from sources with responsible forest management practices – namely, selective felling and replanting – Walnut wood production is eco-friendly and is considered a renewable resource. Forest certification programs – such as PEFC and GiB – verify that Walnut wood is from responsibly managed forests.

kiln dried waney edge boards of walnut stack in the woodshed at cocking sawmills

Working Walnut and how to treat Walnut wood

Both Walnut species work well with machine or hand tools, grain pattern permitting (that wonderful swirlyness demands more attention!). Irregular grain orientation means that Walnut can be prone to ‘tearout’, leading to a jagged edge.

Moreover, to the uninitiated, Walnut can be a little tricky to treat. This is due to acid content and density. Walnut’s density and varied grain mean that it has medium moisture movement. However, don’t wing it, do your homework and the right glues and polishes will work very successfully.

What Is Walnut Wood Used For

In a [Wal]nutshell, Walnut is a popular and versatile timber that is mainly used for:

• Furniture-making

Throughout history, Walnut wood has been used in fine furniture and continues to be popular.

Walnut is used very successfully for both traditional and contemporary Scandi-style furniture due to its aesthetic appeal. We supply a lot of wide waney edge Walnut – larger dimensions can easily be made into striking tables.

Often used by mid-century designers – like George Nakashima and Charles and Ray Eames – the resurgence in this era and design style has seen a surge in demand for Walnut wood.

• Cabinetry and internal joinery

Walnut for joinery will almost always be black Walnut (Juglans nigra). This is due to the straightness of grain, infrequent knots and character which make it more appropriate for complex profiles and machining work. Available volumes make it much more viable for large-scale interior projects and architectural joinery – including staircases, doors, windows, skirtings, mouldings, flooring and even interior panelling.

Walnut wood is ideal for cabinetry, kitchen design and other internal joinery applications. The benefits of using Walnut wood for residential and commercial joinery include its:James Waddell selecting prime 40mm American Black Walnut wood waney edge boards

  • Strength
  • Resistant to shrinkage and splitting
  • Workability
  • Stability
  • Natural beauty

• Flooring and panelling

Walnut wood is also used for flooring and panelling applications. Using Walnut wood for flooring offers the following benefits:

  • Durability is ideal for high-traffic areas
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Striking appearance and timeless appeal
  • Adds warmth and sophistication

• Special projects

With its appealing swirly grain and durable qualities, it is suitable for hand carving, profiling and turnery – finishing cleanly from the tool – and can be polished up to a lovely finish.

Patination, versatility and decorative appeal make Walnut a strong choice for craftsmen and artisans. It can be good for crafting specialty items such as:

  • Stools, side tables and shelves
  • Chopping or cutting boards
  • Bowls and serving utensils
  • Jewellery and cufflinks
  • Picture frames
  • Decorative accents
  • Veneer for musical instruments
  • Gunstocks

High-quality Walnut timber, straight from our woodyard

The desirability of Walnut wood makes it a popular timber for woodworkers, joiners and furniture makers as well as artisans. This specialist hardwood is durable enough that it could be used externally for, say, external timber cladding.

Inspired and looking for Walnut? Self-selection is warmly welcomed by appointment at our Sussex woodyard. Call us to arrange a visit and pick out your timber – 01730 816941.

MORE

Select and buy from our Walnut timber stock

Read more about the character of Walnut wood

Check out our other Walnut-related blogs