Black Walnut Lumber
Black Walnut

Botanical Name: Juglans nigra

Family: Juglandaceae

Other Common Names: American black walnut, American walnut, Black walnut, Eastern black walnut, Nogal, Nogal blanco, Nogal Silvestre, Nuez meca, Tocte, Tropical walnut, Walnut

Uses: Furniture, cabinetwork, carving, and sliced into veneer.

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Black Walnut

Distribution: Black walnut is reported to be distributed in Ontario and Quebec in Canada. Its growth range in the United States is reported to include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The tree prefers moist, well-drained soils, particularly along streams, and is usually found scattered in mixed forests.

General Characteristics: The mature tree is described as rather large. It is reported to attain a height of 70 to 90 feet (21 to 27 m), with a trunk diameter of 24 to 48 inches (60 to 120 cm). Boles are reported to be often clear of branches to 50 to 60 feet (15 to 18 m). The color of the heartwood varies from light grayish brown to deep chocolate brown to an almost black purplish brown. The appearance of the wood is usually described as warm and inviting. The sapwood is described as whitish to yellowish brown. It is a common practice to steam or stain the sapwood to match its color with that of the heartwood. Texture is usually coarse, but uniform; the grain is slightly open and usually straight, but may be wavy or irregular. Pore arrangement is reported to be similar to that in the Hickories (Carya) and Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana ), but the pores are smaller. The wood is famous for its wavy, curly and mottled figures which are obtained from burls, crotches and stumpwood; wood surfaces are generally dull, but the wood is reported to develop a lustrous patina after many years in use. The wood is tasteless but it is characterized by a mild odor when worked.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.59; air-dry density 40 pcf.

Working Properties: The timber is reported to be very easy to cut. The wood exerts a moderate blunting effect on cutters. Material containing irregular grain may be difficult to plane, but the wood is generally easy to work. The wood is characteristically very easy to turn. Boring qualities are reported to be very good. Moulding properties are reported to be rather poor. The wood has exceptional mortising properties. The gluing properties of the wood have been reported as fair to satisfactory. The wood is reported to have good nail-holding qualities. Screw-holding qualities are reported to be good. The material responds very well to sanding operations, and the wood is reported to leave the sander with a clean and smooth surface. The wood has excellent finishing characteristics. Staining properties are reported to be very good, but filling is required because of the open grain. The wood of black walnut can be varnished easily, after filling. The wood takes paint well. Steam bending characteristics are reported to be good.

Durability: Resistance to insect and fungal attack is reported to be very good.

Preservation: N/A

Mechanical Properties

Bending Strength:

Green: 9,100 psi
Dry: 14,800 psi

Modules of Elasticity:

Green: 1,420 @ 1,000 psi
Dry: 1,680 @ 1,000 psi

Maximum Crushing Strength:

Green: 4,175 psi
Dry: 7,680 psi

Drying and Shrinkage

The timber is reported to be somewhat difficult to dry, and seasons at a slow rate. Defects that may occur include checking due to severe drying, iron stains due to extractives, honeycomb, collapse, and ring failure due to wetwood. Kiln Schedule T6-D4 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-D3 for 8/4. (Air-dry as thoroughly as possible before kiln drying.) Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 5%; tangential 8%. Walnut is dimensionally stable after seasoning. It is reported to absorb and give off moisture more slowly than most woods, and tends to stay in place with very little movement in use.

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