Questions on walnut

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Forum topic by karen12 posted 01-05-2012 12:07 AM 1356 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 1754 days

01-05-2012 12:07 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut scroll saw

I was reading on here earlier and i read something about walnut having sapwood. What does this mean? Also read something about needing a respirator while sawing it or working with it. I am a very allergic person so what type of respirator should I get? I’d like it if you could give me names and type or any info on it. I live in a rural area but we do have a home depot and a walmarts. If not I can get one online. Just need to know exactly what to get cuz I’m toally ignorant about this topic. I currently have like a dust and particle mask like for drywall. I think I need to be safer than this. Thanks Karen

19 replies so far

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2375 days

#1 posted 01-05-2012 12:28 AM

Trees are alive on the outside edge, or sapwood; they are dead inside (once big enough, roughly 8”), or the heartwood. There is a clear difference between the two, the sapwood being much lighter on walnut. Most people prefer the heartwood. Walnut can be a problem as it tends to cause people a sincere problem with their respiratory system; it can be awful! I haven’t used a respirator, but if I had allergy problems I would get one that was made to clean all particulates out of the air, not just a dust mask. Check out your local hardware stores and see what they have.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 2973 days

#2 posted 01-05-2012 12:31 AM

And I think the sapwood takes finishes differently from heartwood, doesn’t it?

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Dusty56's profile


11800 posts in 3105 days

#3 posted 01-05-2012 01:04 AM
Perfect example of Sapwood and Heartwood Black Walnut together as Mother Nature intended.: )

Plenty more examples if you google black walnut with sapwood.
Also google wood toxicity / allergies for walnut .

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2897 days

#4 posted 01-05-2012 02:03 AM

I intentionally used some balck walnut with sapwood on a recent blanket chest that I made (see my gallery.) I wanted to add some color and make it a bit more interesting. You can see in the picture, the lighter colored wood is the sapwood.

As far as a respirator, I think a good dust mask much like the ones you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes should work fine. Change out the mask often if it gets dirty. I generally dont use a mask unless I am sanding. I havent had any problems with walnut, but its best to stay safe if you feel you could get a reaction.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2591 days

#5 posted 01-05-2012 02:06 AM

The standard to look for, in a mask, is what they call P100 .

In theory, that means it removes practically 100% of the airborne particulate matter.

-- -- Neil

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#6 posted 01-05-2012 02:13 AM

The other guys pretty much covered it but I beg to differ on walnuts dust ,walnut and mahogany I find has a very fine dust and can even cause reactions if left on the skin for some folks. I’d be on the safe side and use a respirator. Make sure you get the correct filters for dust. Also a good idea to wear long sleeve clothing(just make sure they are not loose and hanging down.)

This looks like one that will work.

-- Custom furniture

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#7 posted 01-05-2012 02:19 AM

Here’s a source were you can buy walnut.

-- Custom furniture

View StumpyNubs's profile


6830 posts in 2217 days

#8 posted 01-05-2012 02:22 AM

I use a LOT of walnut. It’s by far my favorite domestic wood. I love the way it works and smells!

I also find it interesting how many people see some of it with streaks of sapwood and marvel at how nice it looks. They never knew walnut could be white! I think it’s nice to use that sapwood in projects when you can.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View RogerM's profile


747 posts in 1816 days

#9 posted 01-05-2012 02:36 AM

I work with a lot of walnut but have no problems with the dust and shavings so cannot fully appreciate the allergy issue. If you are highly allergic to same I would suggest you use other woods in your projects. It is very difficult to work a lot of woodworking projects with a mask and get a high degree of assurance that there will be no dust infiltration

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View Jeff in Huntersville's profile

Jeff in Huntersville

404 posts in 2611 days

#10 posted 01-05-2012 02:52 AM

I has a small log of black walnut, maybe 8” diameter. When I split it open you could plainly see the sapwood and heartwood. However, after a few weeks the sapwood turned the same dark brown color as the heartwood. Is this normal? It’s unfinished.

View WDHLT15's profile


1562 posts in 1893 days

#11 posted 01-05-2012 05:22 AM

I have about 8,000 BF of walnut that was sawn as far back as 2003 and the sapwood is still much lighter than the heartwood. Once planed, the sapwood is a creamy white versus the chocolate brown of the heartwood. I have never had any that turned the same dark brown as the heartwood.

I, too, like the contrast between the sapwood and the heartwood. I sell walnut lumber, and there are decidely two camps. Some people only want the “furniture store” look where there is no sapwood and every board is exactly the same. Others see the contrast in a wide board, marvel at it, and say “I want that one!”.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2375 days

#12 posted 01-05-2012 06:19 PM

It is somewhat normal for the color to bleed from the heartwood; left outside, it will do so faster. Some companies will steam the sapwood to hurry that process along, making it somewhat difficult to tell the difference by looking at it. I, too, like the contrast between the two colors, but some do not. Up to a persons personal choice. It isn’t that the wood will absolutely cause a person physical problems, it is that it might. A friend of mine had a nasal reaction to black walnut from not wearing a mask, and he now refuses to use walnut; said it was one of the worst things he has had to go thru. Better safe than sorry.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View karen12's profile


15 posts in 1754 days

#13 posted 01-05-2012 08:24 PM

I wanted to thank you all for the info. very interesting. I wantto thank you too A1Jim. I found the mask and will be ordering it. Looks like just what I need. Thanks again so much for taking the time to help me out. I went looking at ebay but didnt find what I was looking for. Needed 2 inch thick walnut and some quarter inch thick. I’d like to make some boxes I found in one of the pattern books. I will keep looking though

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#14 posted 01-05-2012 08:27 PM

Your welcome Karen ,here’s another way to find wood in your area

-- Custom furniture

View AnthonyReed's profile


8567 posts in 1857 days

#15 posted 01-05-2012 08:31 PM

That is a great link! Thank you a1Jim.

-- ~Tony

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