What You Need to Know About Walnut Wood

Beth Rice 02/05/2019

Solid wood furniture made with walnut wood is meant to impress and it never falls short of the mark. In the world of custom furniture, walnut wood is a dream as it is easy to work with and finishes beautifully.

Want to know more about walnut wood? Let’s take a look at what makes it a luxury.

Walnut wood is revered for its rich, dark color. There are many varieties of walnut trees, but just a few are native to North America. It’s the Eastern Black Walnut (also called the American Black Walnut or American Walnut) that is most often used for woodworking. Beautiful walnut trees found in the midwest hail from Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. Walnut trees can grow to be 100 feet tall or more with a diameter of 30 to 40 inches, which provides a consistent grain that makes it wonderful to work with.

Executive Office Furniture in Walnut Wood
DutchCrafters CEO Jim Miller’s office features executive office furniture Amish made with walnut wood.
Executive Office Furniture made with Walnut Wood
Jim’s desk is the Amish Lincoln Executive Desk in walnut wood.

Characteristics and Qualities of Walnut Wood

  • Stable and hard
  • Strong and durable, yet not heavy
  • Dense with good shock resistance
  • Easy to work with for turning and carving
  • Nails and glues well
  • Exhibits good bending qualities
  • Finishes well
  • A fine, fairly straight grain
  • Resistant to decay
  • Displays unique colors
  • Unique grain characteristics make it popular
Executive office furniture made with walnut wood.
Walnut wood is exceptional for carving.

The Colors of Walnut Wood

The colors found in walnut wood vary depending on what part of the tree the wood is from. The sapwood of the tree is the outermost part of the tree. In a walnut tree, the sapwood colors include pale yellow and gray to almost a rich white. The heartwood of the tree is the innermost part of the tree. In a walnut tree, the heartwood gets down to the nitty gritty with rich colors that include a range of dark browns and light browns with some purplish hues, grays, reddish rays, and dark streaks included.

Amish Lincoln Coffee Table
The Amish Lincoln Coffee Table is rich with brown walnut shades.

The Grain Pattern of Walnut Wood

Walnut wood features a fine, straight grain that’s a bit coarse in texture and occasionally features knots or some irregularities possibly including some waves or curls. A “crotch grain” can happen naturally where the tree forks (divides into two branches) causing the wood fibers to wrinkle. Every year a new annual ring tries to fit in the space left and the wrinkles continue to form where the wood is being compressed. A burl is caused by growths on the tree that resemble warts, if you will. Burls are caused by abnormal division of growth cells, providing a way for the tree to grow new limbs if it needs to. A burl in the grain of walnut wood looks like a tight swirly pattern. Walnut is unique with a grain pattern that’s in between prominent oak and the uniform texture of maple.

Grand River Dining Table
The Grand River Dining Table in walnut wood, featured in the DutchCrafters showroom.

Comparing Walnut Wood to Oak Wood

The Wood Grain 

Oak wood has a prominent grain pattern. It has a distinct look with its wavy grain. Walnut has a straighter grain.

oak wood grain pattern
An oak wood grain pattern.
Walnut wood grain pattern
A walnut wood grain pattern.

The Color

Oak is a light colored wood providing a range of light to medium brown tones. Walnut is a darker wood with shades that range from pale browns to dark browns.

Lincoln Entertainment Center
The Lincoln Entertainment Center in walnut features rich browns.
Amish Traditional Wood Trim Lounge Chair
The Amish Traditional Wood Lounge Chair in oak wood wears lighter shades.

The Durability

Both oak and walnut are strong, supportive woods.

The Price

Walnut wood is considered a premium wood and is more expensive than other hardwoods. Walnut lumber is usually not available in long lengths and usually has more knots and sap wood than other woods, requiring the purchase of more lumber to make furniture, making it more costly.

The Grand River Dining Set
The Grand River Dining Room Set in walnut wood.

Is Walnut a Good Wood for Furniture?

  • Often used for formal furniture and executive office furniture
  • Often finished in a dark or natural stain to complement its dark shades
  • It’s a hard wood and valued for its strength, grain and color
  • Offers a very smooth finish

Secrets About Walnut Wood

Have you heard that cherry wood will darken over time? As walnut wood ages, it can get lighter! A rich honey color can come through. The change in color is not as pronounced as the patina that develops in cherry wood. Walnut wood is an excellent candidate for musical instruments and is used in guitars and violins. It is an excellent candidate for steam bending as well.

Chat With Us About Walnut Wood

Do you have any furniture made of walnut wood? What do you like or dislike about it? Would you pay extra for furniture made with walnut wood? Please let us know in the comments below!

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