Walnut Wood | Types of Walnut Wood, Uses, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Introduction

Walnut Wood is hardwood, known for making high-quality floors and furniture. It gives a great dark brown appearance, Walnut wood is hard and heavy wood. Due to its durability and stability, it is suitable for indoor and outdoor furniture. It has many special properties, Which makes it special from other hardwoods.

“Walnut” is a common name of 21 species in the walnut family Juglandaceae. Most of these are valuable and very expensive. The properties and behavior of these walnut species are very close to each other. There may be differences in hardness, color, and grain pattern among walnut species. It is used based on the properties of the wood.

It is a deciduous medium to the large tree, native to North and South America, southern Europe, Asia, and the West Indies. China is the world’s largest producer of walnuts. China contributes about 45- 50% of the world’s total walnut production. The United States is in the second position. 

Scientific nameJuglans
Wood colorlight brown to a dark chocolate
Tree Height30-130 ft (20-30 m) tall
WorkabilityGenerally easy to work.
FinishingGreat finishing 
Rot ResistantVery durable in terms of decay resistance
AvailabilityWidely available
TypeHardwood
UsesFurniture, cabinetry, gunstocks, veneers sheet, turned objects, etc.

Walnut Wood Uses

1. Furniture

Walnut is a medium-density strong, durable, stable hardwood, widely used for making interior and exterior furniture. Its rich brown color and workability make it a better choice for furniture.

American walnut is the most preferred wood for making quality furniture. It is easy to work and holds glue, nails, and screws well.

2. Flooring

There are many reasons to use walnut wood for quality flooring. Walnut hardwood flooring is attractive and durable. It is a medium-density, deep grain pattern hardwood, that reduces the chances of getting dents and scratches. 

American Walnut wood is a great choice for dark wooden floors. It is easy to maintain. In walnut flooring, we have great color options light brown to almost purple hues.

3. Gunstocks

Walnut wood is the first choice for making gun stocks. Because it is shock-resistant, hard, and gives great finishing. Walnut’s grain is closer and denser so that it isn’t prone to splitting easily.

4. Veneers

A veneer is a thin(The standard thickness of veneers is 0.6 mm.) sheet of solid wood. The veneer retains the real look and appearance of solid wood. It is less expensive compared to solid wood. 

5. Carvings and small objects

Black walnut is a popular choice for carving. Because it has rich color, grain and it is easy to carve using machines and hand tools. Wood has oily nature that makes it easier to curve and give a shiny and smooth finish.

Black Walnut was used to make plane propellers during World War I (WWI). During World War II the U.S. The government launched a campaign in which people were encouraged to give walnut trees to the army to support the war effort.

6. Interior Trim

Walnut is also used for interior trim. Because this finishes well and looks attractive. It can be shaped easily by small tools.

Working With Walnut Wood

Usually easy to work with hand and machine tools. But due to irregular and interlock grain patterns, planer operation can be difficult. 

Most wood does not handle glue well. But walnuts hold the glue very well. Excess glue should be cleaned immediately when gluing on the project. After drying it becomes like a dark stain. 

If we talk about the holding capacity of nails and screws, then walnuts hold very well. Because the density of walnuts is medium-hard. 

Walnut wood can be a bit difficult to achieve a smooth finish. Finer sandpaper is required for a smooth and great finish. Hand sanding will be much better than machine sanding.

Steam bending works well with walnut wood, it bends easily without losing its integrity. 

Well, bending depends on many things. Such as the thickness, length, and moisture content of the wood. The most important thing is the method which you are using for bending. Walnuts generally do not bend well without a stream.

How to Stain Walnut Wood?

Stain wood
Stain wood

Most people prefer to stain light-colored wood and it is easy to do so. Walnut can be finished with or without stain. Because it looks great even without stains. Most people do not like to stain walnuts, because of their rich natural color.

If you want to stain, So let’s see how walnuts can be stained. First of all, the wood surface has to be prepared for stain. Just follow these steps.

Light sanding: In the first step, we have to do a light sanding, parallel to the grain, So that the surface becomes smooth and clean. Clean any kind of external stains thoroughly. After this, clean the wood surface with a dry cloth before moving to the next step.

Apply Sanding Sealer:  In this step, we use a sanding sealer. A sanding sealer is a wonderful clear liquid base finish that is applied after sanding. Sanding sealer helps improve the condition of stain and seal the open pores of the wood. 

Direct staining dries quickly and creates an odd texture. Whereas sanding sealer creates a thin layer so that the stain dries slowly, thoroughly. This step helps wood achieve a smooth, even top finish.

Apply an oil-based Stain: Apply two coats of stain with light hands. Keep a gap of one hour between both the coats.  After the final coats, you get a gorgeous consistent color across the board.

Final step:  Apply your clear finish of choice Varnish, lacquer, etc.

Wood staining is a better option to protect the wood from rotting. The stain creates a protective layer between the wood and the environment. Because of this dust and moisture do not affect the wood.

Is walnut wood expensive?

Walnut is more expensive than many other hardwoods, but it justifies its value. It is expensive hardwood because it is rarer and high in demand. Walnut is a very beautiful wood that people like to use. We know, every great thing has value. 

Another reason is Walnut trees grow very slowly.  Pine grows very fast, about a decade is ready for harvesting. While the black walnut tree takes more than 35 years to mature. Walnut typically costs more than Oak, pine, and many kinds of wood.

Even after it is expensive, there is a demand for woodworking projects.

Walnut wood advantage and Disadvantage

Advantages

  1. Appearance: Walnut is famous for its Light brown to dark chocolate color and contains dark brown streaks. Its straight grain pattern presents a fine appearance. It looks smooth even after finishing.
  1. Durability: Wood is very durable and stable. It remains durable for a long time without any maintenance. Walnut wood lifespan can be around 150 to 250 years with low care.
  1. Workability: Working with walnut wood is a good experience. Glues, stains, polishes, and finishes well. Responds well to steam bending. When you follow the right steps.
  1. Water Resistance: Wood is also resistant to mold and water. It is suitable for exterior applications after exterior finishing.

Disadvantages

  1. Expensive: Walnut is an expensive wood, as it is rare and is in high demand. 
  1. Heavyweight: Walnut is a heavy wood. The heavyweight is due to the high density of the wood. Bastogne Walnut has an Average Dried Weight of 46 lbs/ft3 (745 kg/m3). Therefore it is difficult to work at high and in transportation.
  1. Turning lighter over time: Like most dark woods, walnut wood also fades with time in UV rays and the effect of weather. To avoid color fade, we have to paint or polish.
  1. Wood Identification: There are about 21 species of walnut. Which is almost identical in appearance. It may be difficult for the common man (Who doesn’t know about wood) to recognize them.
  1. Inset Attract: Walnut is resistant to decay but it is susceptible to insect attack. It starts getting affected by being in contact with the soil.

Types of Walnut

Type of walnut wood
Type of walnut wood

1. African Walnut (Lovoa trichilioides)

African walnut is commonly known as Congowood, Dibetou, or tigerwood. This is a large-sized (100-150 ft (30-46 m) tall and 2-5 ft trunk diameter) deciduous tree, It is native to West tropical Africa.

African Walnut is very stable and durable, hard, and close-grained. Generally, it has irregular and interlocked grain with even texture. High level of natural luster.

Its heartwood is golden yellow to reddish-brown while the sapwood is medium yellow to light gray.

Hardness: Its Janka hardness is 940 lbf (4,180 N). Which is better for good flooring.

Workability: Easy to work with hand and machine tools. There may be problems due to interlocking grain in machine operation. Finish well.

Uses: Veneer, plywood, flooring, furniture, cabinetry, and turned objects.

2. Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Black walnut is a large deciduous tree that is native to North America. A mature tree may be 30–40 m (100–130 ft) tall and 2–3 ft (.6–1 m) trunk diameter. Black Walnut is cultivated for nuts and wood. 

Black walnut is durable, stable, and rot-resistant but susceptible to insect attack, it is used commercially.

Its heartwood is lighter pale brown to dark chocolate brown with darker brown streaks while the sapwood is pale yellow-gray to nearly white. After finishing well, it gives a smooth and fine appearance.

Hardness: Its Janka hardness is 1,010 lbf (4,490 N). 

Workability: Easy to work with hand and machine tools. Glues, stains, and finishes well. There may be an interlocking grain problem.

Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, gunstocks, interior paneling, veneer, turned items, and other small wooden objects and novelties.

3. Bastogne Walnut (Juglans x paradox (J. hindsii x J. regia))

Bastogne walnut is a hybrid mix of native Claro Walnut and English Walnut. Tree height is 50-100 ft (15-30 m) and trunk diameter is 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m). The tree grows quicker than Claro or English Walnut. 

Heartwood colors can vary from lighter golden yellow to reddish-brown with dark brown streaks and sapwood is yellowish.

Hardness: Its Janka hardness is 1,250 lbf (5,560 N). 

Workability: Generally easy to work with straight grain. But sometimes machine operation may be difficult due to interlocking grain. Otherwise Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Uses: Gunstocks, veneer sheets, furniture, turned objects, musical instruments, tools handles, and other small specialty items.

4. Claro Walnut (Juglans hindsii (also J. Californica))

Claro walnut is also called Northern California black walnut and Hinds’ black walnut. It is a medium-sized tree that grows up to 30-60 ft (9-18 m) tall. Claro is native to California and Oregon. It is used as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens.

There is suitable wood for making furniture. Heartwood is lighter pale brown to dark chocolate with darker brown streaks whereas sapwood is almost white. 

It is a durable, stable, and versatile wood that is used for many purposes.

Hardness: Hardness is 1,130 lbf (5,030 N) on the Janaka scale. 

Workability: Easy to work with the straight and regular grain. Planer tearout can sometimes be a problem with irregular or figured grain. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Uses: Furniture, cabinet, gunstocks, musical instruments, veneer sheets, turned into decorative items, and novelties.

5. English Walnut (Juglans regia)

English Walnut is also known as Circassian Walnut, European Walnut, French Walnut, Common Walnut. It is a large deciduous tree, attaining heights of 80-115 ft (24-35 m), and a trunk up to 5-6 ft (1.5-2.0 m) in diameter.

Heartwood can range from a lighter pale brown to dark chocolate with brown streaks. Sapwood is nearly white. English walnuts tend to be lighter in color than eastern black walnuts.

Hardness: Hardness is 1,220 lbf (5,410 N) on the Janaka scale. 

Workability: Easy to work with the straight and regular grain. Sometimes irregular or interlocking grains cause problems. Holds nails and screws well.

Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, gunstocks, interior paneling, veneer, turned items, and other small wooden decorative objects.

6. Peruvian Walnut (Juglans australis)

Peruvian walnut, also known as Nogal, is a medium-sized tree that grows up to 30-60 ft (9-18 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter. It is native to Southern Mexico, Central, and South America. It is a rare wood, its population is decreasing due to continuous harvesting.

Its heartwood is dark chocolate brown with a purplish hue and sapwood is light to cream.

Hardness: Its Janka hardness is 960 lbf (4,250 N). 

Workability: Working properties of Peruvian Walnut is great. Because its density is medium. But there can also be irregular or figured grain.

Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, veneers, flooring, musical instruments, and interior trim.

7. New Guinea Walnut (Dracontomelon Mangiferum)

New Guinea Walnut is commonly known as the Pacific walnut, Lamyo, or Paldao. It is native to Southeast Asia. The mature tree is 100–120 ft (30–37 m) tall, with a 5–7 ft (1.5–2.1 m) trunk diameter.

Its heartwood is light to medium brown, sometimes with a reddish, grayish, or greenish cast. Whereas sapwood is wide pink to gray.

Hardness: Its Janka hardness is 910 lbf (4,040 N). 

Workability: Easy to work with machines and hand tools. Due to interlocked grain, there may be problems in machine operation. But Glue and finish well.

Uses: Veneer, furniture, cabinetry, and flooring.

8. Queensland Walnut (Endiandra Palmerstonii)

Queensland Walnut is a large  (120-140 ft (37-43 m) tall) tree, and native to Northern Queensland (Australia).

Heartwood is grayish-brown with streaks of chocolate brown, black or pink, and the sapwood is light brown. Grain is usually interlocked and wavy.

Hardness: Its Janka hardness is 1,670 lbf (7,380 N) and Crushing Strength is 9,950 lbf/in2 (68.6 MPa).

Workability: Its workability is not very good. Because it interlocked grain and silica content. Therefore it can be difficult in machine operation.

Uses: Cabinetry, flooring, millwork, furniture, and veneers.

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