Eastern Black Walnut score and question

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Forum topic by newwoodbutcher posted 03-10-2011 11:21 PM 2064 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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781 posts in 3089 days

03-10-2011 11:21 PM

It’s been frustrating as @#!%&#*, I’ve been looking for about 100 bf of air dried un-steamed Eastern Black Walnut here on the left coast for several months with no luck. I could get as much steamed 4/4 as I wanted for anywhere between $6.50-$7.85 a bf which I thought was too expensive and not exactly what I wanted. I saw some online from back east for between $4-$7 a bf but shipping (especially long pieces) was pricey (about $1.50 a bf additional). There is plenty of Claro Walnut out here but that isn’t the look I want (too busy). I began thinking I would fly to Iowa, rent a truck and drive back with a load (also pricey), then I found what I think is a good deal on kiln dried steamed 4/4 Eastern Black Walnut on Craigslist.. About half of it is planed with one straight edge and the rest is rough sawn and or skip planed with natural edge. It’s got great dark chocolate color an minimal knots and cracks. So I bought all he had, 300 bf of 4/4 nice color eastern Black Walnut for $800.00. Did I do good?
I’ll be building two tall library book cases and a matching slant top desk.
Now I have this great wood in my shop and I’m wondering if there is something I can do to “liven” up the steamed wood to give it more richness like I’m told the un-steamed variety has. I’m thinking BLO or perhaps Liberon Finishing Oil would look great, but will it come close to looking like un-steamed Black Walnut?
Have any of you experts out there in LJ land done that successfully? Any advice you may have would be most appreciated.

-- Ken

10 replies so far

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2925 days

#1 posted 03-11-2011 12:40 AM

I shouldn’t chime in, because I am an absolutely cluess beginner! First of all, congrats on the walnut score – so far it is by far my favorite wood.

I was wondering if a diluted dye, like aniline dye, could be used on the walnut under your final finish to give it back some lost color? The dyes come in wood colors, as well as the bright candy colors. I haven’t tried aniline dyes yet, but there are some astounding examples of it’s use on this site. Hopefully the folks with all the knowledge will leave some words of advice…

PS – click on trifern’s “2 dye 4” blog for a great tuturial on multi layers of color with aniline dyes…

View Barbara Gill's profile

Barbara Gill

153 posts in 2899 days

#2 posted 03-11-2011 03:01 AM

When I first started hanging around woodworking forums (over 14 years ago) I always wondered why all the other woodworkers insisted on staining Walnut. Then one day I happened to be in a store in Richmond and looked at the steamed wood they carried. That made me understand why they were staining the wood. All the Walnut I had seen up to then was either air dried or dried in a solar kiln.
This story probably will not be the answer but I think to give your steamed Walnut a nice rich color you will have to stain it.

-- Barbara

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3197 days

#3 posted 03-12-2011 12:31 AM

It reads like you made a great score. If you want a look at what you can get out of it, try taking one of the pieces (the least attractive one) and do some experimenting with different finishes on small sections to see what happens. What looks best will be up to you, so give a few of them a try.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View DHaden's profile


77 posts in 2897 days

#4 posted 03-12-2011 05:55 AM

I have used Watco Danish oil. I really like the results.

-- Measure once, cut twice.

View newwoodbutcher's profile


781 posts in 3089 days

#5 posted 03-12-2011 08:21 AM

Thank you all. I’ve ordered some aniline dye (walnut) and will pick up some Watco Danish oil this weekend. I’ll take your advice Nomad and create a long test piece for experementing, all the way through the final coat. I’ll let you all know what works best.

-- Ken

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2925 days

#6 posted 03-12-2011 09:10 AM

I look forward to your follow-up!

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3785 days

#7 posted 03-12-2011 09:50 AM

We build kitchens a lot with walnut, and the only thing we do to it is sand and lacquer it. My experience is that the lights stay “off” until the finish is applied. Truthfully i am unaware if the walnut stock we buy from our suppliers is steamed or not, i think it is all kiln dried. I do know we pay between 1.90 and 2.10 per bf and it looks excellent after it is lacquered. As far as bf price, there is a broad range of prices from coast .to coast and so your price you gave is likely a great deal in your area. The walnut we use is “black” walnut.

-- .

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3551 days

#8 posted 03-12-2011 02:33 PM

amber shellac really pops the walnut I have used. I buy it rough and mill it, but I don’t know if it was steamed or anything.

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4408 days

#9 posted 03-12-2011 02:38 PM

I agree with the shellac base coat idea. I make my own and it really makes the grain in wood stand out.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View newwoodbutcher's profile


781 posts in 3089 days

#10 posted 03-12-2011 08:38 PM

Thanks I’ll include the amber shellac in my test board

-- Ken

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