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Selecting Walnut Project Lumber

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Forum topic by Rushman posted 1759 days ago 4726 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rushman

13 posts in 1880 days


1759 days ago

Over the last couple months I have bought many board feet of Walnut from a large kiln close to my house. When going through the stack to hand pick, some boards have a fair amount of white in them. I have been told that the dark is the heart and the white is the sap wood. When I look at galleries of projects people have posted I don’t recall seeing any that was not all dark with no white. Should I not hand pick any that are not solid dark in color? About 10% of what I have has the white in it. I realize that there may be many projects that the white would look good in, but I’m not seeing any pictures of completed ones. Also buying Walnut and cherry straight from the Kiln makes all projects affordable.


13 replies so far

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 2504 days


#1 posted 1759 days ago

It is a personal preference thing. I used to only use the heartwood, I found the sapwood a defect. But some projects the lighter sap adds great character. It kinda depends on what you are building too. The short answer is if you like the looks of some sap…go for it ! If you don’t dress that off/pick those boards out for another project.

-- http://nelsonwoodworks.biz/

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1389 posts in 2063 days


#2 posted 1759 days ago

so many double negatives!

but i get the point and echo Daren’s sentiments. I would use it to your best advantage. eg: two bookmatched panels with an interesting pattern of sapwood would be incredibly stunning.

View sry's profile

sry

146 posts in 2207 days


#3 posted 1759 days ago

You must be clairvoyant or something, because I was just pondering this exact issue this morning as I was sorting through my pile of walnut boards figuring out where they’ll go in my table project. I think what I’m going to end up doing is lay out the project so that they are hidden as much as possible, and if that doesn’t work try to stain it to match.

Some references:
The Wood Whisperer just tackled this exact issue on a walnut entertainment center he’s building
FWW How to Conceal Sapwood

View Rushman's profile

Rushman

13 posts in 1880 days


#4 posted 1759 days ago

Since I made the above post I have searched and saw alot of projects with the sapwood showing. Almost all I saw were book matched projects. If you have big enough saws or a good source, one could get very creative.

View WibblyPig's profile

WibblyPig

168 posts in 1873 days


#5 posted 1759 days ago

My personal preference on walnut and cherry is NO sapwood. Sapwood detracts from the overall design and makes it look like you just grabbed any old board and used it.

(unless it’s a Nakashima butterflied table top or the like – but that’s a completely different animal)

This is where it doesn’t work

This is where it works:

-- Steve, Webster Groves, MO "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1389 posts in 2063 days


#6 posted 1759 days ago

i wonder what the point of that first one is. it could have TOTALLY worked if the table were designed to be more rectangular.

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5245 posts in 2184 days


#7 posted 1759 days ago

I am led to believe wood is cheaper if it has a mixture of sapwood in it, as oposed to full heartwood .I hope they are not charging you full price for second choice timber.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View barlow's profile

barlow

129 posts in 2339 days


#8 posted 1759 days ago

Scotsman is somewhat correct, its only cheaper if you are specifically buying sappy backed lumber, most woodworkers are under the understanding that sappier boards are cheaper because most are paying a premium for sorted black or red depending on if it is cherry or walnut. Just the opposite of maple where all most people want is the white sapwood.

-- barlow

View closetguy's profile

closetguy

744 posts in 2491 days


#9 posted 1759 days ago

Make end grain cutting boards from the ones with white sap wood. They look very dramatic.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design changes....www.dgmwoodworks.com

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2421 days


#10 posted 1759 days ago

As Daren said it is pretty much a personal preference. I do not purposely remove the sapwood from cherry or walnut because I like the contrast that it gives. If you want a homogeneous look to your project then either select lumber with minimal sapwood or cut it out in the milling process. But for me I like the look that sapwood adds to the project. The color variation adds visual interest to the piece.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Karson's profile

Karson

34858 posts in 2999 days


#11 posted 1759 days ago

I’ve use only dark, but am starting to use the sapwood to some extent.

This is a Greene and Greene table that has sapwood on the aprons and lower shelf.

Click for details

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View papadan's profile

papadan

1116 posts in 1967 days


#12 posted 1759 days ago

Walnut is my favorite wood, I use it with sapwood, knots, any “defects”

-- Carpenter assembles with hands, Designer builds with brains, Artist creates with heart!

View WibblyPig's profile

WibblyPig

168 posts in 1873 days


#13 posted 1758 days ago

One thing about staining walnut sapwood: walnut lightens as it ages so in a few years, your sapwood may stick out again as being darker than the rest of the piece. I treat sapwood as a defect and buy boards without it or cut it out as part of the milling process.

-- Steve, Webster Groves, MO "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

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