Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

View More Images Below

Common Name(s): Black Walnut

Scientific Name: Juglans nigra

Distribution: Eastern United States

Tree Size: 100-120 ft (30-37 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 38 lbs/ft3 (610 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .51, .61

Janka Hardness: 1,010 lbf (4,490 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 14,600 lbf/in2 (100.7 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,680,000 lbf/in2 (11.59 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 7,580 lbf/in2 (52.3 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 5.5%, Tangential: 7.8%, Volumetric: 12.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4

Color/Appearance: Heartwood can range from a lighter pale brown to a dark chocolate brown with darker brown streaks. Color can sometimes have a grey, purple, or reddish cast. Sapwood is pale yellow-gray to nearly white. Figured grain patterns such as curl, crotch, and burl are also seen.

Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, but can be irregular. Has a medium texture and moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Semi-ring-porous; large earlywood pores grading to medium latewood pores, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses occasionally to abundantly present; growth rings distinct; rays barely visible without lens; parenchyma banded (marginal), apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates (sometimes very faint and barely visible even with lens).

Rot Resistance: Black Walnut is rated as very durable in terms of decay resistance, though it is susceptible to insect attack.

Workability: Typically easy to work provided the grain is straight and regular. Planer tearout can sometimes be a problem when surfacing pieces with irregular or figured grain. Glues, stains, and finishes well, (though walnut is rarely stained). Responds well to steam bending.

Odor: Black Walnut has a faint, mild odor when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Black Walnut has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Very popular and widely available, though board widths can sometimes be narrow. Considered a premium domestic hardwood, prices are in the high range for a domestic species.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, gunstocks, interior paneling, veneer, turned items, and other small wooden objects and novelties.

Comments: It would be hard to overstate Black Walnut’s popularity among woodworkers in the United States. Its cooperative working characteristics, coupled with its rich brown coloration puts the wood in a class by itself among temperate-zone hardwoods. To cap it off, the wood also has good dimensional stability, shock resistance, and strength properties.

Related Species:

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood samples (crotch and burl) of this wood species.

Black Walnut (sanded)

Black Walnut (sanded)

Black Walnut (sealed)

Black Walnut (sealed)

Black Walnut (endgrain)

Black Walnut (endgrain)

Black Walnut (endgrain 10x)

Black Walnut (endgrain 10x)

Black Walnut (burl)

Black Walnut (burl)

Black Walnut (crotch)

Black Walnut (crotch)

Black Walnut and Hard Maple turned bowl

Black Walnut and Hard Maple turned bowl

Black Walnut (35" x 8.5")

Black Walnut (35″ x 8.5″)

  • Richard

    As you can see my name is Richard. I just wanted to let all you wood workers out there know how disgusted I am over what the veneer industry has done with the veneer. I started to learn how to veneer in 1962 and have done it regularly ever since,I am now 74 years old and still working with it.I have gone through three 1500 sq.ft. flitchs of black walnut. My first flitch cost $.10 a sq. ft. Veneers were thick enough to do marquetry with. Today the stuff is so thin you can read the paper thru it and the prices are getting out of sight. Some woodworkers say solid wood is best for making fine cabinets but the best logs are turned into veneer. They have the best grouth patterns. I just measured some of my old stock walnut and got 0.038 newer sapele is 0.021. I hope you guy are doing better.
    One onlie seller is selling mottled makore t 0.023 thick for $3.05 a sq.ft.
    Enjoy life.

    • Jim Ray

      Richard, isnt that the way it is with everything? Prices keep going up and quantities keep going down. Just look in the grocery store. What you use to be able to buy for .50c is now $3.50 and you get 1/2 as much product. But hey, I hear the “Economy” is doing GREAT!!!

    • Jim

      When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties my Dad used to talk about how you could get a 100 lb sack of potatoes when he was a kid for a quarter — that’s right, 25 cents, only no one had any money. Expensive stuff is better than having no chance to get it at all, in my book. While I agree its a shame what has happened to prices, who’s to blame for it?

      • Eli Hopf

        The Federal Reserve. That’s who’s to blame.

    • Endgrain: Semi-ring-porous; large earlywood pores grading to medium latewood pores, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses occasionally to abundantly present; growth rings distinct; rays barely visible without lens; parenchyma banded (marginal), apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates (sometimes very faint and barely visible even with lens).

  • Hoppie Toad

    Greetings;

    This web site is really informative! I don’t do much with wood beyond taking a pine board and making a shelf now and then. But we live in a 105 year old ‘farm’ house out in the Ohio country-side, and we have solid hardwood floors on both floors, and we were told when we bought this place that the floors are black walnut. Judging from the information here, it looks like they likely are. The wood is finished, very dark rich brown with the grain indicated above, and I don’t know if it’s stained or not. Down it the cellar you can look up at the boards that aren’t finished and they are dark, too–not as dark, but pretty dark brown. I assume the bottom of the boards haven’t been stained, so I’m guessing it’s probably walnut. We have a 15 year old walnut tree that’s growing up against the chicken coop, and the squirrels scatter the nuts all over the place and young walnut trees are popping up all over the place. That tree’s roots have busted up the chicken coop’s cement floor and I was thinking about having it chopped down. If it’s all that ‘precious’ as a carpenter’s wood, maybe I’ll just let it go.. the chicken coop’s about had it anyway…

  • Brian Bachman

    Just found a barn built in 1800’s alot of walnut was used. Looking for an avenue to sell this stuff …any ideas?

    • Michael Gustavson

      What are the dimensions of the boards?

  • Michael Gustavson

    Would black walnut be a good decking material? I’m trying to find a sustainable local alternative to IPE.

    • Spituna

      Just keep in mind it weighs a lot more wet than dry. This coupled with the price is why we don’t build boats with it.

    • rich1051414

      Walnut has great weather resistance, but it’s spongy. Being spongy has a lot of positives and negatives. If you improperly seal it as a deck, it can cause sagging from the added weight, unless you account for the extra weight when you construct it.

  • Arthur Cooper

    a whole bunch harder and more durable too.

  • Taos Door

    I’ve found that here in the southwest that Black walnut holds up extremely well to the direct intense sun, drying wind and the driving rain. Annual rainfall is 12″ per year. The joints stay tight and the surface pretty much unaffected even if not regularly cared for. Have built several doors with it and am extremely pleased with the results in stability and durability. I’m not sure I would use it for deck material as Michael is asking…But I sure would like to try some of the black locust for a door….

  • Arthur Cooper

    Sharpen your blades when cutting this species. Moderate blunting effect on hand and machine blades. Use both hands. This is very tough stuff. Pre Drill nail holes or prepare to bend a lot of nails.