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Disappointing walnut planks?

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Trainee neophyte

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I have finally started on the walnut tree I was given, with results I wasn't expecting:

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Am I right in saying that the only usable wood is the narrow dark strip in the middle? If that is the case, an entire tree is going to yield one 3"x 3" block, 4' long. No wonder wood is expensive!

I'm certainly going to keep the rest of it, even if just for playing about, but is it completely unusable? What an appalling waste if that is the case.

It's Good Friday today, so woodwork is forbidden (and hammering nails is blasphemous) roll on tomorrow! Not everyone gets two Easters - I probably should make the most of it.
 

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RobinBHM

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is good friday a different day in Greece?

it was last friday here in UK

ps yes walnut contains a lot of sap
 

Trainee neophyte

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RobinBHM":29xkh6gt said:
is good friday a different day in Greece?

it was last friday here in UK

ps yes walnut contains a lot of sap
Greek Orthodox church uses a different method to calculate Easter week: sometimes it happens earlier than the Catholic Easter, sometimes later, and about one year in 4 it is the same.
 

AndyT

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If I've read it right, according to Woodbloke66 and Custard (who know what they are talking about) yes, it's only the chocolate centre you want, not the doughy outside.

Apparently the sapwood is irresistible to little critters that like to chew through wood - do you have any of those about the place or are they all busy with your new windows? :D

Nothing to stop you practising on the sapwood, if you don't mind sharing it.
 

Chris152

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I've used a total of one walnut board, Tn, and that was to make bowls, so pinch of salt etc. I used the complete width of the board that looked like your last one and had no problem - and the contrast between the sap and the heartwood looked nice, I think. Maybe it depends on what you're using it for? As for being attractive to worm, once it's dry it makes little difference, doesn't it?
 

Sgian Dubh

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Trainee neophyte":13o3bqt2 said:
I have finally started on the walnut tree I was given, with results I wasn't expecting:
Are you sure it's walnut? I can't tell from the images, but maybe you know because you saw and were able to identify the living tree the wood came from. If it should happen to not be walnut the brown at the centre may be a result of decay.

Also, the occasional walnut tree will, for no discernible or obvious reason, produce heartwood that is actually quite pale.

Just a couple thoughts. Slainte.
 

Inspector

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When Black Walnut is kind dried (traditional steam and heat kiln) the sap wood becomes the same colour as the heartwood. I don't know if there is a way to do the same in a home shop or if your walnut behaves the same.

Pete
 

Steliz

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I made this from European Walnut a couple of months ago. Some people don't like the sap wood but I like it and the person who I made it for aslo liked it. It's not soft, not as hard as the darker wood but hard enough.

imgonline-com-ua-CompressToSize-CBFr9GpKqbCXcz3.jpg


I also made these using only sap wood.

imgonline-com-ua-CompressToSize-09Y74eUAIuBx4o.jpg
 

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Trainee neophyte

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All good info - thank you everyone. Further research on the internet (!) suggests that a walnut tree has about 25 years of sap wood, with anything older than that becoming the heart wood. On that basis, fast growing trees have more sapwood for a given girth than slow growers, and things in Greece grow like mad, provided there is enough water. The place this tree came from was definitely on the damp and soggy side, so it dating it at no more than 40 years old at most would be logical, especially as it was the shade tree for a modernish, albeit run down, house. It's definitely walnut - I cut it down myself :) It even had the odd walnut still attached.

I'm going to slab up the rest of it, even though it is will be purely sapwood, because I've got it, and why not? As I understand it the shrinkage differs for the two types of wood, so insane movement can be expected if you have both. If you only have sapwood...?

My chainsaw embarrassed itself yesterday by throwing all the chain oil out in a puddle, so no work until repairs made - why do tools only break when you are using them?
 

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I would use one for a river table I think the contrast beween heart, sap wood and resin could be quite stunning.
 

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Steliz":2k4ls5a5 said:
I made this from European Walnut a couple of months ago. Some people don't like the sap wood but I like it and the person who I made it for aslo liked it. It's not soft, not as hard as the darker wood but hard enough.



I also made these using only sap wood.

I only hope I can make something that doesn't let down the quality of the timber. Your tables are a lovely colour, so there is definitely hope yet. It just isn't quite the luxurious depth and figuring I was expecting, having been brought up in a house full of walnut antiques. Live and learn, as they say.
 

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If you don't like the contrast, you could even it up a bit with van dyke crystals, made from walnut husks. It might be a bit much to even up in those boards though, but it would brown it some.
 

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Lazurus":2vmi1kh6 said:
I would use one for a river table I think the contrast beween heart, sap wood and resin could be quite stunning.
I am in two minds with the whole river table thing - I love the wood, but I hate the resin. Having both together looks jarringly wrong. Also, there is no way I am competent to make one currently but that's another story - I won't know until I try. I would probably go with olive wood rather than the walnut if I did - something like this?
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woodbloke66

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I only ever use the centre dark brown wood on walnut. However, clicking on the image(s) to bring them up larger actually reveals three distinct bands of timber; a very light sap, then a wider but slightly darker coloured timber before getting to the really dark stuff in the middle. Quite what the wide, slightly darker coloured timber remains a mystery to me? Lighter coloured heartwood as Richard suggests? - Rob
 

MikeG.

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Trainee neophyte":3ua79jyp said:
....... If you only have sapwood...?
The insects will thank you. Sap wood is vulnerable to insect attack, and to rot. It just isn't as tough, as hardy, as heartwood (OK, there are rare exceptions. Yew, I think, being one). Woodboring insects like to lay their eggs in the softer stuff because that's palatable to their larvae. Walnut being quite soft anyway maybe doesn't have quite the distinction between the two that, say, oak does, but, 'twere it me, I'd perhaps think of using the sapwood for practising a new skill, carving maybe, before putting it on the barbecue fire.
 

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woodbloke66":c4y5m0vt said:
I only ever use the centre dark brown wood on walnut. However, clicking on the image(s) to bring them up larger actually reveals three distinct bands of timber; a very light sap, then a wider but slightly darker coloured timber before getting to the really dark stuff in the middle. Quite was the wide, slightly darker coloured timber is a mystery to me? Lighter coloured heartwood as Richard suggests? - Rob
Which gives me hope! We will know in a year or so, when I start making things with it, and then a year after that if it stays relatively stable in the insane climate here - not too damp, but too hot. Luckily we don't believe in air conditioning (although the tourists do).

Something else I noticed was that it is oxidising and changing colour - I wonder if it will look different again in a coup!e of weeks. When it was first cut it was completely stark white, but then over a day or so mellowed a bit. The outer edge next to the bark is yellow. All very weird.
 

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MikeG.":251pth9o said:
Trainee neophyte":251pth9o said:
....... If you only have sapwood...?
The insects will thank you. Sap wood is vulnerable to insect attack, and to rot. It just isn't as tough, as hardy, as heartwood (OK, there are rare exceptions. Yew, I think, being one). Woodboring insects like to lay their eggs in the softer stuff because that's palatable to their larvae. Walnut being quite soft anyway maybe doesn't have quite the distinction between the two that, say, oak does, but, 'twere it me, I'd perhaps think of using the sapwood for practising a new skill, carving maybe, before putting it on the barbecue fire.
"... practicing a new skill..."

That would be woodwork, probably. I will make a point of making sacrificial furniture. The idea that I could make something that will be handed down for generations is a bit beyond me yet - being good enough to have it in the house at all would be novel.

Given that it hasn't cost me anything, I will not lose too much sleep if it does all get eaten. As you say, use it for practice. I also have an extensive selection of varnishes with insecticides built in, just in case...
 

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woodbloke66":2xwgw65h said:
I only ever use the centre dark brown wood on walnut. However, clicking on the image(s) to bring them up larger actually reveals three distinct bands of timber; a very light sap, then a wider but slightly darker coloured timber before getting to the really dark stuff in the middle. Quite what the wide, slightly darker coloured timber remains a mystery to me? Lighter coloured heartwood as Richard suggests? - Rob
European Walnut, when seasoned, is often the colour of Dijon mustard. Only the outer inch or so should be avoided. The rest is fine.
Often times, the inner dark part, although aesthetically interesting, isn't of much use because of cracks and cavities associated with the pith.
 

custard

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Walnut is sold "sap no fault", consequently your tree illustrates why Walnut is best bought in person after a visual check! Pretty much the only timber yard I can think of that sells "graded" Walnut is English Woodland Timber in Sussex, and even they include a fair bit of sap in their top grade.

American Black Walnut is almost always steamed, this process migrates the colour of the heartwood into the sapwood, making the sap more usable for most makers. However, it also brings a downside in that it muddies the colour. Furthermore, steamed Black Walnut really doesn't age very well, it turns into a very drab colour after a few years, with little in the way of grain pattern to add much sparkle. English Walnut might not always have the same drama when freshly sawn, but tends to patinate to a mellow honey colour that keeps getting better as the years, and indeed the centuries, roll past!

Occasionally you'll find Walnut boards, both English and American Black, that are almost all heartwood with really thin sap bands. These are some waney edged boards of English Walnut that I was lucky enough to find, and as is so often the case, they were for sale at exactly the same price as the manky, sappy stuff in the same pile!

Walnut-English.jpg
 

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Sheffield Tony

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Interestingly, over at Wimpole we had some walnut cut from a tree for safety reasons. On cutting it up, the creamy sapwood was fine, but the dark heartwood was so rotten it was easy to poke it out and end up with a tube ! So much for the heartwood being durable.
 
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