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Walnut wood is one of the most prized materials for decorative purposes. Applications It can be seen in include luxury furniture, cabinetry, gunstocks, veneers, interior panelling. It is famous for its beautiful graining.
Walnut is a beautiful wood which is extremely strong and versatile. It is highly coveted due to its warm rich colour, beautiful fine-graining and immaculate finishing.
When polished Walnut provides an extremely smooth finish. This is what makes it such a great material for luxury furniture and carving.
Walnut burl is often made into veneers and is in very high demand from both cabinet makers, car and gun manufacturers. A burl1 is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. You normally see this as a rounded outgrowth from the side of the tree.
The reason for this high demand is because the way the wood has frown the grain has becomes twisted and intertwined making it extremely resistant to splitting. Walnut burl is so prized there have even been cases of poachers cutting burl out of the side of walnut trees.
The colour of this luxury wood can vary from light brown all the way through to a dark chocolate brown. The graining of walnut is darker than the background colour. It is not unheard for walnut wood to contain some hints of purple, grey or red. The main determent of the colouring of a piece of walnut is the species of walnut tree it has come from.
Walnut trees generally grow to approximately 30 metres in height and can be as wide as much as 150cm in diameter.
There are 21 species of walnut trees. The types of walnut which we most often offer furniture in are English Walnut and Dark Walnut.
The official name of this wood is Juglans Regia2. In North America, this species of walnut is referred to as ‘English Walnut’. Whereas in Europe it is simply referred to as Walnut. This wood has been used in the construction of luxury furniture for centuries. It is an excellent choice of material for both walnut dining tables and walnut coffee tables. It has an exceptionally attractive fine grain and can hold an edge very well.
The official name for this word is Juglans Nigra3. It can be referred to as both black walnut and dark walnut. You can see a close-up of Black Walnut in the image below. It is a tree which is specifically grown for wood. It is native to the East of the United states and has been used for centuries in the construction of furniture.
This wood is extremely popular with woodworkers due to its beautiful colouring and graining along with its excellent characteristics. It is a strong wood, which has good dimensional stability and shock resistance.
People often ask the differences between Black Walnut and English Walnut. The key differences are as follows.
Firstly, the location in which the wood is grown. English Walnut grows in Europe and Western Asia whereas Black Walnut is native to the Eastern United States.
Secondly, English Walnut has a slightly finer grain (this graining can be seen at the top of this blog post) when compared to Dark Walnut (see close-up below). Also, the trees feel different. the English Walnut Tree is smooth and soft to touch with not many ridges. This differs to The Black Walnut Tree which is grooved and hard.
Finally, the most significant difference is the time to reach maturity, a Black Walnut Tree grows very fast in comparison to the English Walnut tree. This is the reason Black Walnut is grown primarily to produce furniture. A Black Walnut log can be worth as much as $20,000 dollars (approximately £15,000 - £16,000).
Walnut is a hardwood. Other hardwoods include oak and maple. The term hardwood comes from the fact walnut comes from a dicot4 tree. In general hardwoods are harder than softwoods but this is not always the case. Hardwoods are usually found in broad-leafed temperate and tropical forests.
The first thing is the price. Real solid walnut is very expensive. You won’t find a dining table or a coffee table in walnut for a few hundred pound. Nearly in all cases the price tag will be above £2,000 (plus taxes and delivery) for a solid walnut coffee table and above £5,000 (plus taxes and delivery).
The second thing is the weight. Solid walnut furniture is heavy. Walnut is a dense wood even a single walnut leg is heavy to lift. If you compare a cheap piece of wood wrapped in a walnut veneer such ones sold in mainstream furniture stores and then lift a piece of solid walnut furniture the difference in weight will be immense.
The third thing is the colour variation. Real walnut will have some variation in the colour. For example, if you have a square marble coffee table with 4 legs in walnut. Each leg will have a different graining pattern. With solid walnut table tops again the graining will be different throughout.
The fourth thing is veneers. Veneers do not necessary mean the furniture is not solid walnut. For example, solid walnut can be veneered for decorative purposes. All our square solid walnut legs are veneered with solid walnut. That is a solid walnut veneer wrapped around a solid walnut leg. The reason for this is to have a beautiful finish to the walnut as the legs will constantly be on display. Where veneers become, a problem is when they are wrapped round a cheaper material then marketed as walnut and listed at a high price.
If you go through the above checklist you will have a high probability of identifying if your furniture is real walnut or an imitation.
Walnut furniture is durable enough to be used outside. However, we recommend you do not. The reason for this is the cost of solid walnut furniture. Even though walnut is rot-resistant and doesn't normally warp from changes in heat or humidity, it will deteriorate due to exposure to the elements on a consistent basis.
This means constant maintenance care will be required to maintain your walnut furniture. If you are looking for outdoor furniture we advise you to purchase a maintenance-free item.
You can care for your walnut furniture by regularly dusting it down and re-applying oil at least once a year. All of the walnut used in the furniture on our site is sealed with Danish oil5.
Walnut is environmentally friendly. Black walnut is the most common species of walnut used in furniture. It is grown in the United States which means it is grown under strict regulations. This means deforestation is not a concern when you purchase walnut.
Another factor when purchasing solid walnut furniture constructed by a master craftsmen is the lifespan of the item. A good piece of solid walnut furniture will last for at least 50 years if it is looked after correctly.
It is not unheard of to hear of pieces of walnut furniture 100 years old. When you compare this to cheap furniture where you may go through ten or more items for everyone in solid walnut. The amount of wood saved is considerable.
We strongly advise against using wood stain on your walnut furniture. The reason for this is it tends to wash out the beautiful trademark graining of the walnut. Walnut is expensive due to its demand which is partly due to the beautiful graining of the wood. By staining the walnut, you are destroying its most beautiful characteristic.
This is the reason, you rarely see walnut finished with wood stain. To preserve this beautiful graining a clear coat finish is used. This can be achieved with either an oil, varnish, wax or lacquer.
The answer to whether there is a difference between veneered walnut furniture and solid walnut furniture is it depends. There are a few difference scenarios you may encounter with walnut furniture.
A cheap laminate veneer is definitely not the same as walnut furniture. This can be a synthetic material made to look like walnut or very thinly sliced pieces of walnut. You can tell this type of furniture almost instantly from the price. Laminate walnut coffee tables can be as little as £100.00 and dining tables start at around the £500.00 mark, this is the type of product you see in cheap furniture outlets. The price. Also in most cases, there will be a lack of variation in the grain. Another tell-tale sign is the light weight of the furniture compared to a solid walnut piece. Walnut is a dense wood and you will really feel the weigh difference between solid walnut and an imitation. The final part of the furniture to check is the joints where the laminate is attached.
Whether veneered walnut is solid walnut furniture is dependent on what the veneer is wrapped around. If the veneer is wrapped around solid walnut it is solid walnut furniture. If it is not wrapped around solid walnut it is not. It is that simple. Again, the first place to look here is the price. Solid walnut furniture which is wrapped in a veneer will have a higher price than a veneer wrapped around a cheaper wood.
However, dishonest retailers may market cheaper wood wrapped din a walnut veneer as solid walnut and charge the higher price. The way to combat this is to check the weight of the furniture. Make a point of lifting a piece of cheap furniture first and you will really notice the difference. This is because walnut is a very dense wood. If it is heavy there is a good chance it is walnut.
Next, if you can flip the furniture upside down and check what wood is used on the underside on a lot of veneered tables you can see a cheap plywood on the underside. You can also see the lines on the legs where the wood is veneered. Check which material the wood is cladding.
The only reason you should see a veneer on solid walnut furniture is for decorative purposes. This can be on the legs of tables and along the surface of tables. Examples would be coffee tables legs and the surface of a cocktail table. It should be used purely to give a more aesthetic finish. Not to deceive the customer as to what they are purchasing.
Solid Walnut Furniture
Solid walnut furniture is exactly what the name suggests. Furniture made in solid walnut. Ways to identify walnut furniture are as follows. A high price, walnut is a highly-coveted material due to its beautiful graining. It also requires skilled craftsmanship to construct luxury furniture in this material. These reasons mean the cost to purchase items of luxury furniture in walnut are in the thousands rather than the hundreds. As mentioned above you are looking at £2000 (plus taxes) for a solid walnut coffee tables and £5000 (plus taxes) for a walnut dining table.
Walnut is a heavy wood due to its density. When you lift even a single solid walnut leg the weight is noticeable. Weight is a great way to check if your furniture is solid walnut.
Unique graining is another way to check if you have a piece of solid walnut furniture. Each piece of solid walnut is unique and will have variances in the graining. Most of this graining will be straight but there can be some curls. This is also true on walnut veneers. However, if you check on walnut coffee or dining table tops you should see unique graining.
Again, as mentioned earlier there is nothing wrong with wrapping solid walnut furniture with a decorative walnut veneer for decorative purposes. The key is the whole piece of furniture consists of solid walnut.
The best way to identify a piece of solid walnut furniture is how it holds up over time. A piece of solid walnut furniture will hold up very well for 50 years or more with just a small amount of maintenance. When you compare this to the cheap laminated walnut furniture sold by some furniture stores the difference is immense. The solid walnut outperforms this type of furniture 50 years to one. When you are deciding whether to buy a piece of solid walnut furniture or going for a cheaper alternative a good way to analyse the investment is to multiple the price of the cheap alternative by 50. This is how much it will cost you in replacements when compared against a single piece of solid walnut furniture.
Solid walnut is a hardwood and is durable. Walnut wood is rated as 1,010 Janka. This number is calculated from a Janka hardness test6. During this test, a steel ball is placed on a block of walnut. Then force is applied until the ball is embedded half-way through. This force is measured by a number. This number followed by Janka is how the woods hardness is measured.
Solid walnut wood is one of the very best materials you can for an item of furniture. In fact, an item of furniture crafted in solid walnut is classed as luxury furniture. If you are looking for premium quality, natural beauty and longevity solid walnut is one of the very best choices you can make.
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