question about black walnut

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Forum topic by , posted 08-30-2010 05:39 PM 1595 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2387 posts in 3696 days

08-30-2010 05:39 PM

Hello everyone,

I have a question, I might be buying a bunch of lumber off of CL. The guy has about 250 bf of some sort of wood he claims is walnut. Along with the pile he is also throwing in all his other wood which is about 250 more bf mixed with some maple, some oak, old “barn wood” and who knows what else. The walnut is what I am after. I told him I would give him 400.00 for the whole pile of wood to include the walnut. I did give the fella some money down.

My question is this, I brought a couple of the “supposedly” walnut boards home to the shop. Looked like walnut til I sat the board right next to a walnut board we have at the shop that we buy from our local lumber company. The two boards look real similar in grain but the board I brought home from that wood pile is distinctly more red then the walnut board I have. The red in the wood will not work at all for my upcoming job because the lady does not want any red in the color and this is going to be completed with a natural finish.

Is it possible the wood from that guy is something else other than walnut. Maybe it is Mahogany or something. Is any walnut ever red in color. The 400.00 deal is great but I am not sure that I have an extra 400 to throw into wood that cannot be used on my customer’s project.

Any ideas???


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10 replies so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4226 days

#1 posted 08-30-2010 05:55 PM

You are right, a decent price. But not if you cannot use it and don’t have the funds to spare.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3293 days

#2 posted 08-30-2010 06:00 PM

Plane a little down and wipe with some mineral spirits. Air dried and aged walnut has a very reddish hue to the top fibers.

That said, some black walnut heartwood is very reddish, but you won’t be able to tell until you clean it up some. Or you may not have black walnut, you’re right on the cusp of where it’s natural range ends.

Even if it has a reddish hue can you afford to pass on 250 bf of Walnut for $1.60 a foot with a bunch of other barn wood thrown in? Even with the higher than normal waste percentage of walnut you’re stealing it.

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3696 days

#3 posted 08-30-2010 06:17 PM

Yeah Nathan, I agree on it being a great deal. I was even thinking if it is not walnut, my experience has been most wood with any color to it such as walnut tends to cost more so I am confident whether it is walnut or not it is a great deal.

I need to decide something before tonight though because I am set to meet this fella this evening.

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View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3224 days

#4 posted 08-30-2010 06:18 PM

If it were closer to where I live, I would buy this wood in a heartbeat.

You can probably get the red out with a stain.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3293 days

#5 posted 08-30-2010 09:45 PM


Rich does hit on a good idea though, use an analine dye like TransTint Dark Mission to obscure the red without risking botch. Compared to paying 4-5 times the cost buying a couple hundred ML of TT is a cheap way to minimize your materials cost.

View captkerk's profile


170 posts in 3390 days

#6 posted 08-30-2010 10:18 PM

I got a bunch of walnut from my in-laws from a tree that was in their yard. Not sure if it was black walnut or not, but it does have a reddish hue to it as it sits rough-cut in my shop. After it is dimensioned, sanded and hit with oil, it looks a lot more brown. Some parts, however, looked a little purplish in a project I made.
Click for details

Hope this helps.

View griph0n's profile


68 posts in 3492 days

#7 posted 08-30-2010 11:08 PM

I bought a big load of walnut a while ago and a few of the boards were like that…. I wish there were more. Lovely reds, golds and purples. I like grain and colour, even boards most think of as rejects, so I may be a little off to one side.

I’ve “heard” that commercially kilned walnut is steamed to even out the heart and sapwood to a uniform brown.

I also “heard” that walnut has a greater allowance for sapwood than other hardwoods when graded. They allow for more white on one side of the board

Does anyone “know” more about this? I am a fountain of unsubstantiated, internet generated, knowledge.


Great work captain, the inlay really brings out the reds and purples.

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

702 posts in 3219 days

#8 posted 08-30-2010 11:12 PM

I think really nice black walnut almost has a purple hue / red but more purple but when finished applied it goes very dark.

Also lot’s of wood stores sell steamed walnut, they introduce steam when it get kiln dried which makes the dark wood bleed into the sap wood, I think they do this to get better grades because usually the sap wood is almost bright white.

I like both ways but good old fasion air dried and touched up in a kiln is best.

Griphon your bang on

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3293 days

#9 posted 08-30-2010 11:47 PM

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3696 days

#10 posted 08-30-2010 11:59 PM

Thanks a lot everyone for the great information on this subject. I think I am going to go through with the deal. The fella had given me a loop hole, he told me to give some money down to show my seriousness and if it was not what I was looking for he would give it back. However it looks like I will go through with the deal.

Using the toner coat idea will probably work, I did not think of that. I use a mixol product in my finish coats and that likely could change things up a bit, I will sample that some. If not though, I think I will sell it on another job or use it for my own home furnishings.

To top off the deal the fella has a ton more wood that looks mostly to be oak with some maple, looked like maybe some alder but not sure. Just a mixed bag of nuts for the rest of it.

The fella is a great woodworker, showed off some of his work to me but he has become sick and doc says to quit.

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