Easily one of the most sought-after hardwoods in North America for it’s deep chocolate tones and heavily grained appearance, the Black Walnut tree is native to the eastern United States. The prized lumber is sought after by everyone from furniture makers to fine box craftsman, gunstock manufacturers and woodturners alike. Trees grow to 120′, and 3-4′ trunk diameter with larger trees becoming more and more rare. Today, Black walnut slabs over 30″ are considered a premium on the east coast. It would be hard to overstate the popularity of Black Walnut lumber amongst woodworkers. Walnut seeds (nuts) are also cultivated as a food crop.
Black Walnut has wonderful working characteristics, strength and stability. Color ranges from medium to dark chocolate brown, at times with grey, purple, blue, red and black tones. Grain and figure can range from straight to very heavy grain patterns, crotch figure, burls and “pillowing” in very select pieces. Sapwood provides a very nice contrast in color and is normally pale yellowish to nearly white.
Average dried weight: 3.4lbs per board foot.
Janka Hardness: 1,010 (see “useful information” tab)
Allergies/Toxicity: While rare, reported as a sensitizer and can cause eye and skin irritation in some individuals. In the forest, black walnut trees are know to be allelopathic, which means that it releases chemicals from its roots and other tissues that harm other organisms and give the tree a competitive advantage.