A vastly underrated wood?

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Seems like I recall seeing a lot of furniture built of butternut at the Shaker community of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky.
Dick Durbin
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On Sun, 05 Jun 2005 08:41:21 -0700, Olebiker wrote:

How could you tell? The pine was easy to spot. I thought the hardwood was maple. How does one identify butternut through that brown stain? (Just to avoid misunderstanding: I'm not criticizing your identification; I'm asking how you made it.)
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The docent pointed out that the Shakers used it a lot. I recall it because I was so unfamilar with it. It's been several years since I was there, but I don't remember any brown stain on it.
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On Mon, 06 Jun 2005 10:52:04 -0700, Olebiker wrote: [re Pleasant Hill]

I have photos... I was going to post on apbw but I botched the photography... Anyhow, to refresh your memory, the built-in cabinets had a brown stain. The movables had a reddish stain or the brown stain. Some pieces, like the cobbler's bench, appeared grubby--couldn't tell the original color.
As an aside, as I look at one of the better photos of a built-in drawer, it appears that the face was stained before assembly. The pins are darker than the tails and the rest of the drawer side.
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On Mon, 06 Jun 2005 18:54:33 -0500, Australopithecus scobis

I wouldn't be surprised if the sides hadn't been replaced at some time.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
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On Tue, 07 Jun 2005 10:20:54 -0700, Tim Douglass wrote:

Could be. The endgrain would be darker anyway, of course, but I peered at the photo to see if that was the case; I'm pretty sure it was stained. As to replacement, I simply pulled out the top center drawer to take the photo. Figger that's the same drawer ever'one else reaches for first, so both the most likely to have been repaired and the most likely place to put a repaired drawer.
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While being located near the area a wood is harvested can be beneficial, if the supplier can get it cheap the savings can be passed on to you. Ipe is a good example of a U.S. imported wood that is relatively cheap. I get it for pennies more than I pay for Oak.
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On Sun, 05 Jun 2005 15:55:33 GMT, "Leon"

Sounds like I'm just in luck around here- I guess it's the same case with other woods in other areas. I know I can't buy things like Mesquite or Osage Orange locally at any price. Butternut *is* soft, but softness is a relative term- I certainly wouldn't let anyone whack me over the head with it! I've never had it dent, either, but maybe I've just been lucky.
For the poster that asked for suggestions about the denting, I've heard that a moist rag laid over the dent and an iron will pop the dent back out.
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Prometheus says...

It has a hardness rating lower than yellow poplar, and only beating out basswood and aspen on my spreadsheet of 40+ hardwoods and their properties. I agree it is really nice looking though.
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Why is it "underrated"? Well, probably because it's not widely available. I've lived in MD and AZ and never seen it at a local lumber yard.
Norm
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Butternut is attractive and a decent choice for furniture, carving, and veneer. Some folks call it "white walnut" but it is lightweight and soft for a hardwood. It works easier than either hard or soft maple, has a course tecture and stains/finishes well. It grows in Canada and the US. Not sure the reasons it is underrated, but a wood in less demand will have a lower cost. Using butternut for a tabletop might not be as good as maple as it will dent more easily. I would not hesitate to construct a cabinet or chest of drawers from butternut. Nice wood.
On Sun, 05 Jun 2005 06:18:44 -0500, Prometheus

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Phisherman wrote:

I recently read somewhere that butternut has been declining, IIRC, from disease or insect damage(butternut is Juglans cinerea vs. black walnut, or Juglans nigra, which makes calling butternut white walnut more understandable).
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wrote:

That may be the answer to the low price right there... I know that MI has been cutting a lot of Ash to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer, and the prices have gone down quite a bit as a result of a lot of it being on the market. I hadn't heard anything about butternut, though. I guess I'll be stocking up, just in case!
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