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American Black Walnut is unique as a domestic species, because there are no other North American species of wood with the same distinct chocolate brown colored heartwood.
Since the colonies started exporting Walnut lumber back to Britain and Europe, the wood’s beautiful color and grain began to gain popularity for furniture and interior woodwork applications. Because Walnut was so plentiful then and was also cheaper to obtain than Mahogany, it began to take a larger market share.
Today, Walnut is still highly prized for furniture and interior woodwork. Its growing popularity is even starting to match that of Cherry, and at J. Gibson McIlvain, we sell much of our Walnut stock to furniture makers and flooring companies.
The wood’s rich tones make for excellent doors and paneling, and as a furniture wood, it is hard to beat. Walnut machines easily due to its middle grade hardness, and it is very gentle on cutting edges. It holds detail well and finishes beautifully to a deep, rich brown.
Freshly milled Walnut exhibits many different color hues, from deep browns and purples to light creams. The process of steaming Walnut evens out some of those color variations and creates a much more uniform and mellow chocolate color. Over time and with oxidation and UV exposure, Walnut lightens in color, and it blends well with most other species.
Most – if not all – of the walnut that we buy here at McIlvain has been steamed so that we can offer our customers the most beautiful and consistent product possible. We also are able to offer Walnut lumber planks in up to 12″ widths to serve our diverse customers’ unique needs.
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