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Black walnut is used to describe wood from the tree Juglans Nigra1. It is often described as American Walnut, Dark Walnut or simply walnut. This wood is primarily grown to produce timber. Approximately three quarters of black walnut timber is grown in the Central United States. With the remaining black walnut grown along the East of the United States all the way up to Southern Ontario.
The way in which the trunk of a black walnut tree grows is one of the reasons it the most popular type of walnut to use in the construction of furniture. The black walnut tree trunk grows straight and tall with minimal lower branches when surrounded by other trees. This is what makes black walnut an economically viable tree to grow for timber as it allows maximum timber to be grown in the available space.
Adding to the economic viability of growing Black Walnut for furniture is the large amount of FAS lumber a black walnut tree produces. FAS stands for first and second grade lumber2. Walnut is the finest quality wood you can use in both cabinetry and furniture.
Aside from the great economic factors of growing black walnut lumber. There is also a great demand for the material from both woodworkers and the consumer market. The consumer market adores the glorious rich brown colouring and graining of this material.
This demand has resulted in black walnut being the most expensive species of wood for both furniture and cabinetry. The popularity of this material from woodworkers is down to its ease to work with. Black walnut works great with glue, stains and polishes easily and responds well to steam bending. Additionally, black walnut is the most durable of all the walnut species.
This coveted hardwood can be seen in a variety of applications including panelling, musical instruments, cabinetry and luxury furniture. Walnut coffee tables and side tables are amongst the most common uses of walnut you will see in residential furniture. You can also see walnut used for the legs in other luxury items such as marble dining tables.
The shock resistance and durability of black walnut also makes it the perfect material for both rifle and shotgun stocks.
Black Walnut is an extremely beautiful dark hardwood. The colouring of this wood ranges from a rich dark brown to a purplish-black. The sapwood of this material is a pale yellow-brown colour.
A distinguishing characteristic of black walnut is the beautiful graining pattern which runs through it (you can see this graining pattern in the solid walnut leg below).
Black Walnut takes an excellent polish and requires no filling. The only time where filling may be required is to create an ultra-smooth effect on a table top.
The grading rules of black walnut allow for more defects and knots than other timbers. In most cases this just adds more character to any items constructed in this magnificent material.
As mentioned in the introduction Black Walnut trees are found predominantly in the Central areas of the United States. But they can also be found throughout the United States and into Southern areas of Ontario, Canada. When grown commercially they serve as a dual income crop, producing both timber and nuts.
These trees grow best in fertile soils in mixed hardwood forests. But can also grow well in pastures, meadows and slopes. When these trees are fully grown, they can be over 100 feet tall (this is around 30 metres) and up to 4 feet in diameter (approximately 1.2 metres).
A distinctive characteristic of this tree is its deeply-furrowed, black bark.
It takes about 30 years for a black walnut tree to reach prime harvesting size. Since the 1700s black walnut logs have attracted premium prices. With the prices ever increasing due to the unbelievable global demand for the use of black walnut in luxury furniture items. A single black walnut tree can be sold for up to $20,000 (£15,000). In his book “Black Walnut For Profit”3, Bruce Thompson estimates a mature stand of American Walnut trees can be worth around $100,000 ($75,000) when accounting solely for their timber value.
Black Walnut has been the most coveted timber for furniture ever since the foundation of The United States of America. In recent years, this demand has increased exponentially due to black walnut being desired by consumers from all corners of the globe on an unprecedented scale. This has led to an increase in the price of walnut as demand now far outstrips supply. There are simply not enough walnut trees grown to fulfil the amount of walnut wanted.
Despite ever increasing prices the demand for this beautiful hardwood shows no sign of decreasing.
Interior designers and the residential market are really starting to favour black walnut for their projects. The dark, rich beautiful graining of this wood can be used in a variety of situations from using a walnut dining table as a centre pieces for your dining area to wood panelling and cabinetry.
Wherever this wood is used the room benefits from enhanced beauty and prestige. Not to mention the long-life span of items in black walnut which make the price far more attractive when you compare the items with those in cheaper materials on a cost per year of service basis.
If you are looking for luxury furniture or cabinetry which will emit beauty and last you a life time you will not find a better hard wood than Black Walnut. When you consider all the wonderful characteristics this wood possesses, it is hardly surprising ever increasing prices do nothing to slow demand. Essentially the purchase of any item of furniture or cabinetry crafted in solid walnut is not only a beautiful work of art but a magnificent investment which will hold its value over decades.
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