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Black Walnut Redden Over Time?

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Forum topic by kwcraft17 posted 01-11-2018 06:51 PM 981 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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kwcraft17

4 posts in 349 days


01-11-2018 06:51 PM

I have been commissioned to do a reproduction of an Edward Wormley coffee table- The clients procured the legs, and I will make a top to match. The wood is a deep reddish color and appears to be mahogany. All online research, however, suggests that these tables were made of Walnut. The legs are about 70 years old. Does Black Walnut get redder over time? Any experience with matching older walnut to newer wood would be helpful – thanks!


13 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1780 posts in 1967 days


#1 posted 01-11-2018 07:03 PM

Walnut that I’ve used gets lighter over time. I’m not sure about black walnut it sounds heavy.

-- Aj

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2556 posts in 1557 days


#2 posted 01-11-2018 07:09 PM

I think that black walnut generally lightens a little during the first year or two and it may take on a slight honey hue as well.

If you are basing the color on the picture on the link you posted, I wouldn’t rely too much on that. No telling what type of lighting was used or doctoring they did to the photo. Also, it is very possible that they used a stain to get a consistent color between the bent laminate wood legs and the top. It may also be that the one in the photo has been refinished in the last 60 years and they may have used a stain to get a consistent color as well.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View kwcraft17's profile

kwcraft17

4 posts in 349 days


#3 posted 01-11-2018 07:21 PM

Thanks for your replies. I have the legs in possession. I have taken them to my supplier to find a match, and everyone thinks they are mahogany. I beginning to think that we are all wrong and it is black walnut that was either stained (as you noted, Lazyman) or has lightened in tone over time. Either way, the challenge will be getting the new table top to match the existing legs. any experience/ advice in staining walnut would be helpful as well.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 3817 days


#4 posted 01-11-2018 07:26 PM

You can bleach walnut and stain it after. Nasty process.

Butternut has grain and figure like walnut but
is lighter colored.

I’d invest some more effort in getting a positive
id on the wood in the legs. From looking at the
picture I’d say you’re barking up the wrong tree
assuming it’s walnut.

View harrison17's profile

harrison17

26 posts in 411 days


#5 posted 01-11-2018 07:28 PM

My grandpa gave me a chunk of what he said was black walnut that he had had for a long time. When I cut into it though the sapwood was a reddish color. I never did any research, but I was a little skeptical that it was really black walnut. Maybe I need to do that research

View msinc's profile

msinc

552 posts in 673 days


#6 posted 01-11-2018 07:35 PM

I have never seen black walnut light enough {unless it was all sap wood} to stain that red. I have seen black walnut have reddish colored streaks in the grain and it is beautiful. The reddish hues in some boards is also very rare, at least around here and I haven’t seen any in a long time. The wood I saw that had this was not old at all.
I have also built quite a lot of stuff with black walnut and never seen it lighten up any. Some of the items I have are 30 years old and it hasn’t gotten any lighter at all.
As above, butternut has a light enough color to be stained bright red like that table in the link….but who would do it??
Like previously posted I think we are seeing a picture trick, mistake or lighting anomaly of some kind. Surely to god nobody wanted a red coffee table…not even in the fifties….and especially THAT red!!!

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2556 posts in 1557 days


#7 posted 01-11-2018 07:39 PM

You can experiment with various stains. I have had good luck using General Finishes water based stains (though have not tried with walnut or mahogany) because you can mix them or add transtint dyes to sneak up on a color which is especially important with different sources of wood. No matter what you do, you may have color differences between the laminated legs and the top so another option is to embrace the color difference and actually make it greater by intentionally darkening one of them, though you would obviously have to consult with your client on that decision.

I would love to see some pictures of the legs.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12392 posts in 2549 days


#8 posted 01-11-2018 08:41 PM

The picture looks like teak, which was very popular in MCM furniture. Walnut is a cool brown color unless oiled or stained.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Knockonit's profile

Knockonit

469 posts in 371 days


#9 posted 01-11-2018 09:03 PM

as noted previously, sure looks like teak

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1780 posts in 1967 days


#10 posted 01-11-2018 09:29 PM

Walnut from Oregon that’s air dried will have lots of reddish color. But I think it gets its color from minerals in the soil.
The stuff I see at the lumber yard that is steam dried is very boring.
I looked at the photo and also see Teak. I know teak will darken over time as long as it’s the real stuff.

-- Aj

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2556 posts in 1557 days


#11 posted 01-12-2018 03:12 PM

So are the legs that you have recently made or are they salvaged from an old table? A little research finds that he made furniture from mahogany, walnut and teak so it could be any of those if they were salvaged.

Post some pictures, including close ups, of the legs and maybe we’ll be able to ID the type of wood it is. It often helps to have pictures of the end grain too but with bent laminations, that might not be as useful. At the end of the day, you’ll just have to get as close as you can and possibly use some stain to darken and make them match if necessary.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View PPK's profile

PPK

1173 posts in 979 days


#12 posted 01-12-2018 03:23 PM

I think that dye makes a better match to antique or old colors than does stain. I’m no furniture historian, but I believe that dye was more widely used in past years than it is now anyway… alcohol or water based dyes work well, and they are much easier to tweak the color to get what you want, IMO.

-- Pete

View soob's profile

soob

269 posts in 1378 days


#13 posted 01-22-2018 06:47 PM

Walnut was (is?) often finished with (amber) shellac. That tends to give it a reddish tone.

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