I've got a question on walnut coloring. Occasionally I see a piece
that's stated to be made from walnut, but the color is a very light
brown (almost honey or golden brown), usually with beautiful red-brown
streaks. Now I'm a relative novice, and I've only built around a
dozen pieces -- but the walnut I've built with has chocolate brown
I'm wondering if there is a variety of walnut that is naturally this
golden brown color? Or is this some kind of treatment that is done to
regular walnut during the finishing process?
p.s. I did do a Google search before asking here. Thanks in advance.
n email@example.com (Nate Perkins) wrote:
Walnut is steamed before it is dried to make the sapwood as dark as the
rest to increase yield. I assume you're seeing walnut that hasn't been
through this process.
I just learned this from an article about saw mills in some woodworking
magazine that I can't find right now.
Walnut lightens, refines, as it ages. My parents have a couple pieces walnut
furniture that range from 70 to 150 years old which have mellowed to
something like a honey brown. When I was told that I doubted it, but have
since learned to tell old walnut. Growing conditions, location and variety
may also have a play in things, French or European may look different, I'm
only guessing. Now to bring my grandfather into it - I've been working with
some walnut lately that he had sawn about 70 years ago. It's a real nice
orange brown, great warmth to it, I almost wish I could buy more of it.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Bruce) wrote in message
Could be. I'm a relative novice and the difference in walnut color
due to steaming is news to me. I was interested in how different
walnut colors are achieved, and therefore I'm learning from what the
OPs have said.
The piece I saw was a rocker, like a takeoff on the Maloof style. The
placard described it as walnut, with an oil-varnish finish. Instead
of the chocolate brown walnut I have used, this piece was a real honey
brown, with a stunning grain to boot. It was one of those pieces I
saw at the local woodworking contest, and it made me realize just how
much of an amateur I am.
Nate Perkins, Ft Collins, CO
Butternut (white walnut) can also be dyed to look darker and with proper
selection of material with proper grain can look like walnut that has been
bleached. ANother alternative it to use sap wood.
Sorry, I'll try and answer directly, which can be difficult for me. Black
walnut is the most common walnut in N. America, usually chocolate brown when
dried. So I was thinking it's either an old piece where the colour has
changed, or that it is made from a something other than black walnut - e.g
french or english walnut, which are more of a tan than a chocolate. Given
that the piece in the Maloof style, I'd say that it's more recent, another
type of walnut. Where I get confused is between english, french, and other
types. English walnut is an ornamental planted in N. America, and
occasionally available here, so what makes the difference? Geography,
variety or??? So this thread is helping me as well. Steaming, from what I've
seen, will do more to change the colour of the sap wood than the heart wood
Happy New Year!
Are there any mechanical or structural differences between the brown
heartwood and the white sapwood?
I've got a flatsawn 4/4 board with one face almost completely brown and
the other face almost completely white. I'm guessing as I plane it
down, I'll get to some really cool looking visual effects as I get right
near the boundary layer. But will the resulting wood be structurally
sound? Will the two different colors react differently to changes in
humidity, temperature, etc?
Juglans hindsii, or California Black Walnut, grows in certain areas of
Northern California, particularly near where my family has lived for
several generations (Walnut Creek, east of Oakland.) Some 100+ board feet
of beautiful, air-dried, wide boards, with some fantasic figure now reside
in my garage shop. Harvested 12-15 years ago, it's waiting for my skills
to catch up to it's potential.
Details on the type here - http://www.ca-walnutdesigns.com/index.html
For what it's worth I've seen variations in color in black walnut. I
work with it a lot and most of the stock I've worked with has been very
dark, almost with a purple hint to it. About 6 months ago I had a
walnut log slabbed out by a local sawmill and was suprised to find that
it was much lighter than the normal stock I've been working with. It's
not golden brown more like a very light chocolate milk brown. Far
diffrent from the dark wood I've been used to working with. I checked
it yesterday and it's still that same light color.
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