Walnut Remains a Prized North American Hardwood
Julgans Nigra, or American Black Walnut, is a tree in the hickory family native to eastern North America. Walnut is unique among other domestic species in that it is the only tree native to North America with such a distinctly dark-colored heartwood.
Walnut gained popularity during the colonial era, a time when Walnut lumber was exported from America to Europe where it was used for furniture and interior woodworking applications.
Even today, Walnut remains a highly prized wood species, and its popularity continues to grow. The beautiful color and grain of Walnut lumber makes it an excellent choice for furniture, flooring, custom doors, architectural paneling, and millwork.
The Qualities of Walnut Wood
Walnut has a medium hardness compared to other hardwoods, which allows it to machine easily. The heartwood and sapwood of Walnut are very distinct: the heartwood is a signature deep chocolate brown color, while the sapwood is a contrasting light cream color. The sapwood is generally avoided for color matching purposes. Freshly milled Walnut lumber can have a variegated appearance, with colors ranging from deep browns to purples and creams.
Most, if not all, of the Walnut lumber that J.Gibson McIlvain supplies has been steamed to create a more uniform and consistent appearance. Over time, oxidation and UV exposure will lighten the color of Walnut wood, which allows it to blend well with other species of wood.
The Quest for Wide Plank Walnut Lumber
Compared to other hardwoods, Walnut trees do not grow quite as large or straight, which makes finding the right lumber width a difficult task. The J. Gibson McIlvain Company offers Walnut lumber in widths typically up to 12". We work closely with mills to find bigger trees that provide a greater yield of wide, clear grained Walnut lumber.
Read a post on our blog about the FAS downgrading for Walnut lumber.