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Why is walnut ply so lightly colored?

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Forum topic by gbinco posted 01-24-2015 06:02 PM 769 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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gbinco

12 posts in 801 days


01-24-2015 06:02 PM

I’m relatively new to working and I’ve never used hardwood ply before. I’ve seen several sheets at a couple different suppliers, all of the walnut ply I have seen is significantly lighter than walnut solid lumber…it looks more like sapwood, similar to red oak in tone. Are my eyes failing me or is there some reason for this?

I was thinking of using it for case sides but it looks like it will require staining/dying to get it to match the solid wood.

I’m also concerned with how thin the veneer is. It seems like it would be really hard to work with, would take a great deal of care. Even when the project is complete I would be paranoid that a little nick would go right through the veneer. Is this something woodworkers just accept or is it not as fragile as I imagine?


7 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3949 posts in 1960 days


#1 posted 01-24-2015 06:34 PM

That’s not true of all walnut ply. I’ve use my share of it over the years, and my finish was always BLO followed by a top coat of something (varied, depending on the piece) The BLO always made the ply as dark as the solid lumber pieces. That said, it’s possible they cut a tree with very light colored wood (I guess)....or the veneer was steamed (never heard of steaming veneer, but who knows?). Walnut is sometimes steamed to color the sap wood, but at the same time it lightens the heart wood. It may also be possible that you were looking at a lower grade. The best is A1, and I often have problems telling the “A” side from the “1” side. Most of the issues I’ve had with the lower grades (B2, or less) was with the grain…the 2 side would often have some squirrelly looking grain. As for the thin veneer, it’s the way things are now…it hasn’t been any more of a problem with walnut than any other species for me. Lastly, if it’s Chinese made plywood all bets are off….it may not even be walnut veneer.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Loren's profile

Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#2 posted 01-24-2015 06:40 PM

If you want to get the rich dark brown look of old
walnut you’ll need to look at staining your walnut.

I use asphaltum, roofing patch dissolved in mineral
spirits.

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gbinco

12 posts in 801 days


#3 posted 01-25-2015 03:31 AM

Awesome, thanks guys!
It was made in the US, A grade.

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Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#4 posted 01-25-2015 03:38 AM

The color is pretty weak. The veneer glue also interferes
with finish color shifts. If you lay down an even stain
on all the wood, veneer and solid and it looks good
with more stain applied to light ares, then you can seal
it and go to finish.

I’m experimenting with asphaltum stain on walnut, then
shellac for a little amber color and to seal. Then going
for a tough build with oil-modified waterborne Minwax
poly.

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Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#5 posted 01-25-2015 03:41 AM

Walnut as it comes in solid can be attractive as Sam
Maloof used it…. but this is more of an issue today
that some of the pieces have this big purple color
shift. I don’t remember the purple shift being an
issue when I first started with walnut. I though the
shift from heartwood to sapwood looked cool to so
I used that like Sam did. This purple thing is
something else though so look out for it.

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Planeman40

805 posts in 2227 days


#6 posted 01-25-2015 03:10 PM

It could be steaming. Veneer is steamed prior to slicing with a blade (not sawn) either in rotary cutting or flat cutting to make it cut better. Almost all plywood uses blade cutting, either rotary or flat. So it is likely that your plywood was steamed.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3949 posts in 1960 days


#7 posted 01-25-2015 03:18 PM

Interesting, steaming was my first thought…but I didn’t know they actually did that to veneer.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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