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Last edited 13 Dec 2021
The Properties of Walnut
Walnut trees are deciduous trees from temperate climates, with the European species being lighter than the American species. The distinguishable sapwood and heartwood can be between five to ten centimetres, and of grey or red-coloured stripes depending on location and wood age. Walnut trees are part of the plant genus Juglans.
A variety of species of walnut can be used for wood carving and woodwork, but the most common are English Walnut and Black Walnut. English Walnut, or Juglans regia, is typically known as Common Walnut, and provides the majority of edible walnuts for human consumption.
Walnut wood is hard, heavy, and resilient, capable of resisting warping and suffering very little shrinkage. The grain is irregular but typically straight with a medium texture. The endgrain is semi-porous with distinct growth rings.
Although susceptible to insects, English Walnut is quite resistant to decay. While working with English Walnut wood, there is a slight odour. This wood doesn’t typically trigger allergies, but some skin and eye irritation can occur.
With the scientific name of Juglans nigra, Black Walnut is a very popular and easy to find wood. A premium hardwood, it’s extremely easy to work with and popular with woodworkers in the United States. With its brown colour and shock resistance, Black Walnut is a strong hardwood that provides a great choice for any woodworking.
Its heartwood can either be a light brown colour or a dark chocolate brown, containing dark streaks. The sapwood is pale yellow, and the grain usually straight. Black Walnut has a medium texture and it’s extremely durable to decay, although it can be affected by insects.
When the grain is regular and straight, Black Walnut is very easy to work with; rarely stained, this wood sustains glue and finishes very well. Some tearout can happen with surfacing when the grain is irregular.
As walnut wood is fairly easy to work with, it’s often utilised in carving, turning, and profiling, Its smooth surface allows for pieces to have a beautiful surface finish. Staining can occur when walnut wood is in contact with iron.
In addition, walnut wood can be used for flooring, solid wood or veneer for musical instruments and furniture, and interior decoration. Black Walnut is typically used for turned items, furniture, interior panelling, and cabinetry.
--G&S Specialist Timber 16:26, 21 Apr 2017 (BST)
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