Walnut coloring

Hi all,
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 heartwood.
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.
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In rec.woodworking n snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.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.
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(Nate Perkins) wrote:

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.
Cheers, jeffo
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In rec.woodworking

I'm not sure what you are saying. Are you saying it isn't steamed?
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com (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.
Cheers, Nate Perkins, Ft Collins, CO
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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.
-Bruce
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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 itself. HTH.
Happy New Year! Jeffo
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There is an article in Feb 2004 issue of FWW in the notes and comments section, regarding an English walnut tree and a table made from it in the UK. mjh
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"Jeffo" < snipped-for-privacy@hoTHIStmail.com> wrote in message
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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?
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<<snippage>>

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
Patriarch
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Nate Perkins wrote:

Nate,
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. Regards, Mike
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...

Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the info from you and the other posters. Very educational -- this newsgroup has helped me a lot.
Happy New Year, all. Nate
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