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Variance in Walnut color?

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Forum topic by Dagobah posted 05-08-2017 04:25 PM 883 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dagobah

70 posts in 502 days


05-08-2017 04:25 PM

I’ve been using a lot of Walnut lately and recently came across a few boards that look completely different in color than everything else I’ve seen. Is it just that these have significantly more sapwood than everything else I’ve used? All of this walnut came from the same hardwood dealer.

Typically I’m used to dark, chocolatey walnut. Small patches of sapwood are generally the only lighter colors I see. Some examples below:



But these last few boards have been completely different. Before milling these looked similar to everything else I’ve used, but it’s much much lighter after milling and finishing.





What’s going on here?


18 replies so far

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ShaneA

6865 posts in 2438 days


#1 posted 05-08-2017 04:27 PM

The beauty of nature. Can’t grow them all the same. There is usually such a diverse range in walnut color, those certainly don’t seem out of the ordinary. It all looks good to me, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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JayT

5455 posts in 2050 days


#2 posted 05-08-2017 04:40 PM

Different genetics, different soils, growing conditions, etc all affect lumber color. Walnut harvested from about 70 miles east of me that I get from one mill has different shadings than that I get from a different mill about 60 miles southeast of there.

Another possible cause: Walnut is frequently steamed to migrate the darker heartwood color into the sapwood so they get more yield out of a tree. The downside is that it lightens the heartwood somewhat. Not saying that is the case here, because usually those pieces won’t show any delineation between the heartwood and sapwood, just saying it’s sometimes a factor.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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chrisstef

17031 posts in 2846 days


#3 posted 05-08-2017 05:00 PM

When I use different lots of walnut I like to go with a medium walnut Danish oil to even out the colors.

Like the two guys above said, that’s just nature brother.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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jmartel

7531 posts in 1989 days


#4 posted 05-08-2017 05:09 PM

Offtopic here as the other guys already covered it, but where did you get the Harry Potter poster? My wife is a big fan and would love one.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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joandust

24 posts in 232 days


#5 posted 05-08-2017 05:43 PM

It’s walnut alright, just different but equally beautiful! I’ll take this opportunity to congratulate you on your work, the third picture looks fantastic.

-- Joan

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Dagobah

70 posts in 502 days


#6 posted 05-08-2017 06:15 PM

Thanks all for the feedback.

Is there a way to tell the color while at the lumber yard? These looked fairly close to everything else I’ve seen before being milled. I’d hate to be in the middle of a project and discover one of my boards was this light and the rest were very dark.

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Dagobah

70 posts in 502 days


#7 posted 05-08-2017 06:19 PM



Offtopic here as the other guys already covered it, but where did you get the Harry Potter poster? My wife is a big fan and would love one.

- jmartel

Mine was also a gift to the wife. I got it from the artist, Olly Moss.

It appears they might be sold out though: http://ollymoss.com/ and you can read more about the posters here: http://www.slashfilm.com/olly-moss-harry-potter-posters/

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jmartel

7531 posts in 1989 days


#8 posted 05-08-2017 07:01 PM

Looks like they are sold out. People are selling them on ebay for like $300 each, but I’m not paying that. The sets are listing for $1k.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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them700project

115 posts in 858 days


#9 posted 05-08-2017 07:03 PM

I just made my second cutting board out of walnut: and I found I prefer some sapwood in them. luckily I though some purpleheart in this one so there is some contrast

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CharlesA

3294 posts in 1637 days


#10 posted 05-08-2017 07:51 PM

A few thoughts:

1) in most pieces, I like sapwood in walnut. There are times when you want a more uniform color.
2) Given your experience, when doing projects like the middle pictures, I’d but a little finish on different boards before joining them to see if you like the way they look together. In many cases, even mineral spirits might reveal the color differences. I tend to enjoy the natural differences, but I could see wanting a more uniform look. I know with cherry color differences often even out over time, but I doubt that is true of walnut in the same way.
3) If you want to even out the color of walnut, there is a great finishing method (#3) in this article: http://www.woodworkerssource.com/blog/woodworking-101/tips-tricks/3-great-ways-to-hide-sapwood-in-walnut/

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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Bill White

4808 posts in 3800 days


#11 posted 05-08-2017 08:05 PM

What the Hell does a poster have to do with the topic?
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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CharlesA

3294 posts in 1637 days


#12 posted 05-08-2017 08:06 PM

Picture #2. On the wall.


What the Hell does a poster have to do with the topic?
Bill

- Bill White


-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View JayT's profile (online now)

JayT

5455 posts in 2050 days


#13 posted 05-08-2017 08:17 PM

Is there a way to tell the color while at the lumber yard? These looked fairly close to everything else I ve seen before being milled. I d hate to be in the middle of a project and discover one of my boards was this light and the rest were very dark.

- Dagobah

Best way is to get all pieces from the same tree. It’s pretty much the only 100% guaranteed way to ensure consistent color. One reason I like working direct with the guys milling the logs, but not always feasible.

If that isn’t possible, see if the lumberyard will allow you to wet the piece with some mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. That’ll give a good idea of color with finish and the alcohol will evaporate out quickly without causing any problems later on.

Last resort if you find yourself in that situation is to dye the pieces to match. It takes time, patience and practice to be able to do that consistently.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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Rick_M

10641 posts in 2219 days


#14 posted 05-09-2017 02:49 AM

Steamed walnut has that drained color

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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tomsteve

667 posts in 1058 days


#15 posted 05-10-2017 01:55 PM



Thanks all for the feedback.

Is there a way to tell the color while at the lumber yard? These looked fairly close to everything else I ve seen before being milled. I d hate to be in the middle of a project and discover one of my boards was this light and the rest were very dark.

- Dagobah

don’t know if theyd allow it at the lumberyard, but spraying some water on a little section of the lumber can help show the color.

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