White Walnut?

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Forum topic by wncguy posted 08-15-2013 07:16 PM 1245 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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386 posts in 2277 days

08-15-2013 07:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut

I was picking up some wood today from local mill & was looking for some more walnut. Said all they had at present in the kiln was “white walnut”. Since I didn’t have a clue what that was, asked more & sawyer’s wife told me she understood it is also called “butternut”.
Quick search seems to indicate that is correct….
Do you agree & what if any characteristics are different than our “normal” walnut for making boxes, tables?

-- Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad

7 replies so far

View mds2's profile


310 posts in 1909 days

#1 posted 08-15-2013 07:32 PM

I’ve never used it, but my co-worker says it is almost exactly like working with walnut. Just a different color.

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2078 days

#2 posted 08-15-2013 07:43 PM

Its much softer than Walnut, Machines ok, can be a little fuzzy, and is very light weight.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2532 days

#3 posted 08-15-2013 07:50 PM

Butternut is lighter and softer but I love it. My phone won’t let me copy the link but look at my very first project posted here, it all butternut.

I’ve also got a butternut stock on my custom 30-06 mauser.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View sawduster2's profile


1 post in 1710 days

#4 posted 08-15-2013 07:51 PM

Butternut is from the same family as walnut and the tree and log are very, very similar. The wood is noticeably softer than black walnut and historically was used interchangeably in walnut furniture parts that required carvings as it was much easier to carve. KD black walnut has a specific gravity of .55 whereas butternut has a s.g. of .38 – comparable to yellow poplar (.40) and lighter than soft maple (.54). Butternut has low stiffness and isn’t a good choice for structural wood. Butternut is similar to basswood and buckeye as far as mechanical properties. It takes walnut stains well and with a little practice you will be able to stain butternut to look exactly as walnut. I work for a commercial sawmill and had the mill saw and dry a butternut log to provide some carving blanks for a local Boy Scout leader who teaches wood carving. I kept a few boards for my future projects which will include a table top. It will be a character ridden table top so future dents & dings will only add to the look. The lumber availability is very limited and I would recommend to pick up a few pieces while you can.

View wncguy's profile


386 posts in 2277 days

#5 posted 08-15-2013 08:05 PM

Thanks guys…
Don W – after looking at that beautiful ice chest guess I better let them know I want some saved for me.

-- Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1716 days

#6 posted 08-19-2013 07:30 PM

I’ve done quite a bit of work in butternut and everything said above is true. The wood can be rather wormy if the logs have been allowed to sit a while before being sawn, and that can be used as an interesting design element (just be sure there are no more bugs inside the wood) It is also quite soft and will fuzz when you sand it. That part can drive you nuts if you are in a hurry. Once done and smooth it is a beautiful wood to work with.

It is becoming scarce as it is affected by a fungus blight that is killing the trees in many parts of the country. Here in central Minnesota it is a thing of the past.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View bondogaposis's profile


4682 posts in 2316 days

#7 posted 08-19-2013 08:05 PM

It is a nice wood but much softer than real walnut.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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