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What is Walnut Wood?

By JJames February 10, 2020

Walnut has many qualities that make it a favorite among woodworkers compared to other types of wood. It originates from a deciduous hardwood, Juglans genus that makes it secure, hard and durable wood that carves excellently and holds a good shape for some years.

The sapwood color ranges from light brown to dark brown. Black walnut wood displays a straight grain but can also be wavy or curly depending on the tree.

Due to its grain, vibrant color and strength. Black walnut is always an excellent choice for making both traditional furniture and some of the best modern designs. It has also been part of some of the most iconic interior furniture designs in history.

walnut wood

Walnut wood is the only dark-brown domestic wood species that thrives in both traditional and modern furniture designs mainly used for kitchen accessories, gunstocks, cabinets, and much more.

It was discovered back in the 17th and 18th century in Europe and was mostly used to make Gunstocks and grips during the world war.

The English walnut and the black walnut are the most popular out of the large variety of walnut trees.

The English walnut provides the majority of edible walnuts while the black walnut is extremely easy to work with and is the most popular among woodworkers. Black walnut wood provides an excellent choice for any woodworking.

Today, firearms and furniture that use it are precious due to the ability to create a highly polished finish on the wood.

1. What are the primary uses of walnut wood?

The ability of walnut wood to be curved, shaped and carved makes it a popular choice for creating high-end furniture.

During the past years, black walnut wood was a great choice in the production of firearm stocks and grips mainly because of its very sturdy and robust nature. Above that, black walnut wood is naturally resistant to decay and is suitable for any climate use.

You can also use it for interior paneling, flooring, veneer for musical instruments, novelties, and turned items. Black walnut wood is relatively easy to work with and still durable.

walnut wood color

2. What are the types of walnut wood?

2.1. White walnut wood.

White walnut wood is relatively easy to work with compared to black walnut. It has a lighter color and is also considerably soft but is not as durable compared to other types of walnut wood. It is prone to decay but cheaper compared to different kinds of walnut.

White walnut is also known as Butternut.

2.2. Black walnut wood.

Black walnut wood is prevalent and easy to work with due to its robust nature and shock resistance. It has a rich dark brown color and is usually straight grained although sometimes it has a curly grain.

Originating from North America, it has moderate bending and crushing strengths, and good steam bending characteristics.

It is highly durable and resistant to rot but still susceptible to insect attacks. It is suitable for gunstocks, high-quality furniture, musical instruments, boat building, veneers and much more.

black walnut wood

2.3. English walnut wood.

The English walnut is also known as European walnut, common walnut, French walnut, and Circassian walnut. Nuts from this tree are thin-shelled making it easy for you to crack them open. They are one of the most edible walnuts.

The heartwood color ranges from dark chocolate brown to a lighter pale brown with a purple, grey or reddish cast at times with sapwood that’s nearly white. English walnut wood can be difficult to saw and plane, but its texture can be polished.

The English walnut is suitable for interior paneling, turned items, cabinetry, veneer, gunstocks, and other wooden projects.

2.4. Claro walnut wood.

The Claro is a large tree that grows mainly in Oregon and North California. The trees have impressive trunks and large crowns with heartwood that is dark chocolate to pale brown. The color can sometimes have a purple, grey or reddish cast with sapwood that is nearly white.

It has straight grains that can sometimes be irregular. Due to these grains, the Claro walnut is natural to work with mostly for furniture, veneers, gunstocks, turned items, and cabinetry.

Furthermore, it is fantastic due to its natural appeal after a good finish with color mixtures that create many options for pairing with other types of wood.

2.5. Bastogne Walnut.

The Bastogne Walnut is a hybrid that resulted from a cross-pollination of the English walnut and the Claro walnut. As a result, the Bastogne walnut grows faster and produces stronger lumber but with very few nuts. Its heartwood color varies from lighter golden yellow to a reddish brown with curly or ripped grains.

Sometimes the wood has dark brown or nearly black streaks. It is relatively easy to work with due to its straight and regular grains. Bastogne walnut is common on knife handles, veneer, Gunstocks, Fine furniture, musical instruments, and other small items.

2.6. Peruvian walnut wood.

The Peruvian, also known as Nogal and Tropical walnut grows throughout Central, Southern America, and Southern Mexico. Its hardwood tends to be darker compared to other walnut species, with deep brown chocolate like color sometimes with a purple hue.

The grain is mostly straight but can be irregular, with medium to coarse texture. The Peruvian walnut is reasonably popular among woodworkers and hardwood dealers. It is rated moderately in terms of durability but is typically easy to work with due to its natural grains.

The Peruvian is suitable for furniture, veneers, musical instruments, flooring, cabinetry, and interior trim.

walnut wood texture

3. What are the advantages of using walnut wood?

Rich colors found in the walnut heartwood bring life and drama to any room with walnut furniture. The reliable and robust nature of walnut wood makes it ideal for use on dining tables, wardrobes, bed frames, and headboards.

Walnut wood is naturally resistant to decay and insect attacks guaranteeing you a lifetime of quality service. Furthermore, walnut is a great way to add a historical touch to any home.

Due to its robust nature, walnut furniture is suitable for all types of climate, but it should always remain indoors to avoid wrapping or shrinking. It should always be kept away from direct sunlight since sunlight causes the natural dark color to lighten over time.

4. How to care for your walnut furniture?

Careless use and handling of walnut furniture, and exposure to rapid changes in temperature can cause the hardwood to deteriorate over time. However,care to your walnut furniture depends highly on the type of finish used on your wood.

Modern furniture finish mostly contains polyurethane varnish that imparts a long-lasting surface which often requires minimal care. However, older or antique pieces could be waxed, oiled or have a hand rubbed resin finish.

walnut wood


5. The following are steps to take when taking proper care to your walnut furniture:

5.1. Dust with care.

While dusting, use a soft dampened microfibre cloth with light touches to avoid scratching the surface. Do not forcibly rub the fabric over the surface of your walnut furniture. Avoid pushing anything on the walnut furniture to the side while wiping, lift them instead. Such things include flower vases, ornaments, and picture frames.

5.2. Take precaution not to scratch your furniture.

Walnut furniture is highly vulnerable. Always use coasters, mats,and tablecloths to protect the surface as much as possible.

5.3. Avoid spills.

Avoid spills and wipe immediately to avoid discoloration of your walnut furniture — furthermore,avoid placing hot dishes, cups or pots directly onto the surface.

5.4. Apply wax.

To protect your walnut furniture, apply wax and silicone based finishes to the surface at least twice a year. Please note that you should not use wax on pieces finished with polyurethane varnish.

5.5. Remove watermarks as soon as possible.

In a case of milky watermarks, deep a cheesecloth in boiling water, dampen the surface with a few drops and lightly until the mark disappears. Finish immediately by applying linseed oil and buff the coating with a soft dry fabric until the oil saturates.

5.6. What to look for when buying walnut furniture?

When buying walnut furniture, or choosing a walnut stock for furniture making, or when buying already used walnut furniture, always look for wood with a straight grain with a clear coat. Still, be aware of stains as they make attractive grain less noticeable.

Always look out for veneered walnut furniture and try to note the difference between solid walnut furniture and veneered walnut furniture.

Veneering is a way to get the look of walnut furniture while saving a bit of cost due to its pricy nature. During this process, a high-quality veneer put on top of another solid hardwood gives it a walnut-like look and finish. This type of furniture often deteriorates sooner compared to walnut furniture which lasts a lifetime.

Differentiating between veneered walnut furniture and solid walnut furniture is not an easy task, always ask a salesperson or ask for help.

Solid walnut furniture is more pricy than other types of furniture. This should also help you identify walnut furniture. It is often very sturdy, but furniture made with veneer is often more appealing and attractive. Poorly made veneer walnut furniture may often show signs of buckling, closely inspect the furniture before buying to make sure it is original and authentic.


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