Strange Walnut Grain

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Forum topic by superstretch posted 02-23-2011 02:03 AM 1654 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1531 posts in 2690 days

02-23-2011 02:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut

Hello all-

In the video above, you can see the first piece I cut from the slabs I got a week and a half ago:

I crosscut the lower quality of the two and made a 13”x13”x3” piece. I then ripped that down a few times on the BS and planed the board above to 3/4”. I ran the board through once and found the direction of the grain (LOTS of tearout). After taking the board down, I noticed that half the board (the left half) had a very smooth appearance, but felt very … scale-y and I actually got some slivers running my hand against the grain. On the right, you see a tremendous amount of open grain, but it feels glass smooth and looks like mahogany (sans color).

Any idea what the scaly-ness is? Its amazing the beauty of the grain on these pieces.. It has an iridescence unlike any piece of wood I’ve ever seen.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

9 replies so far

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2923 days

#1 posted 02-23-2011 02:24 AM

I have cut a fair amount of walnut, never seen it quite like that…

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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17382 posts in 3003 days

#2 posted 02-23-2011 02:43 AM

i havent worked much with walnut but the only thing i coudl come up with is that there is some pitch build up on your knives and they arent cutting very clean at the end of the board … not sure if its logical or not but just my thought

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

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3664 days

#3 posted 02-23-2011 02:55 AM

The crotch of a walnut tree tends to be denser and have a sort of wavy overlapping grain. Looks as if the board in the video is a tangental cut across a crotch section. My guess is if you wet it down, the smooth section will look twice as dark.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2837 days

#4 posted 02-23-2011 03:25 AM

That looks like sapele to me. Some call it ribbon sapele. And sapele is known for tearout. just a guess.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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51457 posts in 3477 days

#5 posted 02-23-2011 03:58 AM

I have seen this in walnut before too. I am currently building a blanket chest out of black walnut and it has some of that. I find that when I plane it I run the planer on high speed and it tends to reduce the roughness and seems to prevent the chipping.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3985 days

#6 posted 02-23-2011 04:09 AM

Rhett has it right.

Walnut can have some exceptional changes depending on the angle you view it.

You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen tight curly koa wood!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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1531 posts in 2690 days

#7 posted 02-23-2011 05:57 AM

^- See pictures above -^

As you can see, the grain is wavy along two axes. The slab I have is almost full width, with some live edging. This one piece has one or two full-thickness bark inclusions, a branch inclusion (vertically, along length of board), and a few knots.

This board was from the clearer end and it makes part of me excited to see the rest and part of me wondering if this slab is going to be any good for normal work.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2955 days

#8 posted 02-23-2011 06:41 PM

As you can see from the waves on the edges you are trying to surface wood that is going all directions. When the grain is going with the direction of the cut the results will be a smooth surface; when you are planing against the grain you will get tear out. Wood like that can be exceptionally beautiful, but you need to work at it; people I know tend to use sanders rather than planers to get it down to a good surface.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2690 days

#9 posted 02-23-2011 07:42 PM

I gave my boss a 6”x13”x2.75” block of this for his e-cigarette pipe project he has and he said he’d give me one of his cabinet scrapers to try out on the grain.

Thanks all for your input. I’m still new to some of this stuff, but lumberjocks makes the learning curve less steep.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

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