For my next project, I have been commissioned by the wife to build a
matching bedroom set. Headboard, 2 dressors, maybe 2 nightstands. The wife
wants the furniture a dark color (which I personally don't like, but it will
go good with how the room is decorated). I have experimented with a variety
of pigment stains, dyes, and gel stains on oak and pine but I don't like the
results. I was thinking of using black walnut for this project instead.
I havn't used walnut before, so I have a few questions for the learned
woodworkers out there.
1) I was thinking of finishing as follows: oil, shellac, wax. Any comments
on this or better ideas? What is your preferred oil for walnut? What is
your preferred finish for walnut?
2) I will use plywood for parts of this project. Will walnut faced plywood
finish the same as solid walnut? I know sometimes this can be an issue
with some species, but I think it is mainly when it is stained?
3) I expect walnut to be more expensive than oak, but how much more is it?
I can get kiln dried red oak for $3.50/bdft. Am I in for major sticker
shock with walnut?
Any other advice or opinions are appreciated. Anyone who would care to
share pictures of completed walnut projects is greatly appreciated.
I find that ply wood finishes the same as long as you are using a clear
finish. I find that stains will often look different. Basically the
plywood tends to have a repeative grain that is often book matched or
repeating from a rotary cut. The more consistant grain pattern in ply wood
will be the tell tale sign between it and a solid board IMHO.
Price varies from place to place. In SE Texas Walnut is about 50% more than
Walnut is fun to work with. Relative soft compared to Oak but still hard.
Looks great with a clear finish. Look at a.b.p.w. for pictures of a couple
of night stands that I bouilt out of Walnut.
Walnut has been my favorite wood for around 50 years. All my living room
furniture except those damn overstuffed sofas is walnut that I made.
Here's what I do (there may be better ways, but don't tell me):
1. I use Behlens pore filler mixed with walnut stain to bring up the figure
and give me a smooth surface for finishing. I do that because the grain is
somewhat open and this makes the final look better.
2. I have finished with oil, gloss varnish, satin varnish, beeswax and
probably some other stuff I have forgotten. Depends, not on the wood, but
how it will be used. Something that will be handled a lot needs varnish.
Salad bowls need mineral oil. For furniture I like oil because it can be
retreated in a few years after the kids stop putting cokes on the damn
3. Price? I don't buy enough other woods to be able to compare. last time,
I think it was $4.50 a board foot. It does pay to shop around several
sources if they are in your area. Even when drunk I would not buy by
catalog or internet. I want to see what it looks like.
ps. I also turn the stuff and it looks great.
You haven't tried hard enough. I just made a shelf out of dyed and stained
hickory. Attached directly to a teak headboard, it looks like teak. (No,
really! I can show you a picture of it. Okay, considering the time I put
into it, it might have been cheaper to use teak, but it was a challenge.)
There are plenty of nice woods that sell for half the price of walnut. With
a little experimentation you can come up with something dark that looks
I don't particularly like walnut; either to work with or to look at. But
that is just me I am sure.
very thin veneers. THis can affect the way it looks.
If parts of your projects must be veneered I would lay sawn veneers on
rather than using already-veneered plywood, just on the basis of one
unfortunate result. But, I have seen walnut plywood that looked
Rodney Myrvaagnes J36 Gjo/a
Ask not with whom the buck stops . . .
(Opinion follows:) Walnut was made for an oil finish. Watco, Tried & True,
etc., all look great. Oh, wait, you want to put stuff on it? I'm not
nearly as fond of walnut with a film finish... But I love shellac & wax on
cherry and maple. I haven't tried it yet on walnut.
<snippage, due to no experience>
Walnuts are grown commercially in northern California. Orchards have an
economic lifespan, which pretty much guarantees that some nice woods find
their way into the hobbyist market from time to time. And if your family
happens to know a grower or two, then the commercial price isn't really
relevant. But it runs about $4.50/bf 4/4 S3S in the Bay Area - sometimes
less, sometimes more. Depends on width and figure. Red oak, same places,
Really spectacular grain patterns command higher pricing.
If I was investing all that time into the pieces you mentioned, I think I
would start with a small chest of drawers, and get very comfortable with
cutting and using my own veneer. It's consistent with the teachings of the
acolytes of St James Krenov (tongue in cheek), makes a stronger piece, and
conserves 'good' wood.
And in my case, I could probably justify the new purchase of a new drum
whose 150 bf stash of 10 year air dried flame figured claro is waiting to
be made into floor standing clocks. Waiting for the skills to be worthy of
They grow black walnuts commercially? Black walnuts trees have an economic
Boy, they must be really different than the black walnut trees we have
around here; must be a dwarf variety. Do they have much wood in them?
Check out <http://www.walnuts.org . Tell you more than you ever wanted to
know about walnut production in California. Turns out all the commercial
species of walnut (the nut, not the tree) are varieties of Juglans Regia
(aka "English walnut"), although often grafted onto Juglans Nigra ("Black
walnut") root stock.
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
Yep. Nobody has figured a way to get the nutmeats out of a black walnut as
economically as white.
Up near Yuba City, where the floor of the valley is still basically flat
adobe, they simply flood the sections of orchard periodically as if they
were rice paddies. Since they shake the trees, they like to keep 'em low
and dense, so there's not more than about 4-5 feet from graft to branches.
What you want are the grafts and root balls.
When I was a kid in the 60s we used to gather up bushels of black walnuts. We
laid them out in a dirt driveway and ran over them a few times with the car to
loosen the outer hulls then we took off the outer hulls and laid the nuts out
on the ground to dry awhile. After gathering them we all spent coutless hours
all winter with a brick and hammer cracking these things and filling quart jars
(not many) with the meat. To this day there are no brownies or tollhouse
cookies that taste right because you just can't get black walnut meats at the
store and those english (or California) walnuts might as well be peanuts or
something 'cause they ain't even close to a black walnut. BTW no matter how
well you gloved up, you had stained hands and other body parts for weeks after
a session taking the outside hulls off of these things but so did all the rest
of the neighborhood kids so it didn't really matter.
Where do you buy your Walnut in the Bay Area??? I live in Oakley which is
inland from Oakland about 50 mi. When I bought my house, the tract was
surrounded on three sides by Walnut orchards. Come to find out that I was
alergic to Walnut trees, but that is another story. Anyway, almost all of
the Walnut orchards in the immediate area are gone now (replaced by housing)
and I never saw a stick of it for sale in the area other than a little
firewood. I have been looking for a good place to buy good hardwoods
"patriarch firstname.lastname@example.orgDOTnet>" <<patriarch> wrote in message
The walnut native to california is Claro Walnut. See
for a source of Claro walnut in the (south) bay area.
Claro grown for nut production generally doesn't produce good furniture
wood[*], so the walnut from the former orchards was probably sold as firewood.
There are a couple of wholesalers in the Livermore/Pleasonton area who carry
eastern black walnut, and I suspect you could find some in Stockton, were you
to look hard enough. Check with the local cabinet shops.
[*] few long boards, anyway.
email@example.com (Scott Lurndal) wrote in
The Woodsman, Custom Milling/Drying, 2701-A North Alpine Rd., Stockton,
209-931-3293. This fellow comes highly recommended by the folks at Diablo
Woodworkers, with whom I affiliate. I haven't personally done business
with him, but folks I respect think he's a fine fellow. You might give him
a try. He's pretty close.
My family, on my father's mother's side, came to the Modesto area in the
1850's. I've lived most of my life near Walnut Creek. So I'm familiar
A close friend of my parents has orchards in Stanislaus County. Around
1990, he pulled out an old, declining walnut orchard, and replanted in
almonds. He and a partner had the black walnut portions of the trees
milled, and stored to dry in an old barn. A very small portion of this
marvelous wood found it's way to me, through a fairly circuitous route. I
found out, after acquiring the wood, that the orchard was less than five
miles from the place my grandfather ran his blacksmith's shop, in the early
days of the Depression.
This friend has a small number of bolts available, which may or may not
still be good, from some ungrafted black walnut trees that came down last
winter. For family health reasons, in his family and in ours, not much has
been done with these yet. They may, at this point, yield only a few good
bowl blanks. We'll have to see.
Long boards, and the lack of them, leads me to understand why veneering is
going to be how I best use this great stash of wood. Or small boxes &
short clock cases...
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