Author Topic: Walnut difference  (Read 2602 times)

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Walnut difference
« on: January 31, 2017, 11:45 AM »
Hi there!  What is the colour differences between walnut wood and black walnut wood.? Thanks!

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Offline jaguar36

  • Posts: 201
Re: Walnut difference
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2017, 12:02 PM »
Depends on what you are talking about with reference to regular walnut.

Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)is what most folks in the US at least mean when they speak of walnut.  It's a very dark wood, although nowhere near as dark as ebony.  Here is a linkto some more info.

White walnut (Juglans cinera), commonly referred to as Butternut is a fairly plain kinda generic looking wood with some nice grain.  Its a favorite for carving though. More Info.

French Walnut (Juglans regia)also known as European, German, or English Walnut  is pretty hard to find in the US, but it is very beautiful, with some very distinct grain.  Its not as dark as black walnut, more of dark brown rather than a light black.  MMore Info.

Offline grbmds

  • Posts: 1881
Re: Walnut difference
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2017, 02:53 PM »
I'm not an expert, but quite a bit of the variation in the walnut I've used comes from the difference in color of sap versus heart wood; namely the dark brown of the heart wood to the whitish of the sapwood. Sometimes this variation adds interest to a piece and can be useful in adding interest to turned bowls (which I'm just learning about).

Within the past year or so, I've also seen Peruvian walnut available. This looks very much like the eastern black walnut that I believe @jaguar36 was talking about in his post (at least like the standard walnut I've been able to purchase at hardwood lumber sources in my area). This walnut is a little cheaper and the boards I've seen are more consistently dark brown (like the regular black walnut), which is mostly desirable for use in furniture, with very little of the whiter sapwood.

Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 821
Re: Walnut difference
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2017, 09:18 PM »
Another thing to bear in mind is that if you get a "purple" shade of walnut, it will lose the bluish tint over time (say 1-2 years) in favor of the more common dark brown.  Over a longer period, it will gradually lighten and tend toward yellow from red, although still brown.  We had a nice marble topped walnut table in our home for a while that was 40-50 years old, and it looked markedly different than any stick of walnut in my lumber stack.

Nogol (Peruvian Walnut) is in the walnut family, and also lightens over time, a bit more quickly than black walnut.  I commissioned a piece of relief carving in Nogol from an Ecuadoran carver a while back, and he polished it with black shoe polish (ack!) to make sure that it would keep the dark look.  Aside from the lack of judgment on the polish, he did an amazing job.  He had a pretty extensive set of carving tools made in Ecuador of German steel.  When I pushed him on his source of the steel, he admitted that his favorite was the steel from the springs of old BMWs.  I have a couple of the Ecuadoran chisels just to remind myself that great work does not require great tools as much as knowing how to use the ones you have.  Where there's a will, there's a way.  He is one of the very few people I know whose work is better than his tools.

If you are ever in Ecuador, stop at the carver's shop on the equator (not the tourist route) on the way from Quito to Cayambe and you may meet him.  Then continue to north to San Antonio de Ibarra, where the square has a big selection of carving shops and galleries, including some impressively sized relief carvings.  Yes, you can buy tools made with German steel there.  On the way back stop at the market in Otavalo, then stay at the Puertolago resort in San Rafael de la Laguna for a day or three.  One of the best working vacations I ever had :).