Walnut is a moderately dense black hardwood that's very easy to work with. It has a straight, fine grain and a little bit of natural oil to help it resist decay. It's best to use walnut for carving because it has a tendency not to split when you drive your chisel through the fibers. It also glues up nicely and takes stains nicely, but take care - walnut can look blotchy if you aren't careful with color selection while staining.
Walnut wood is easy to use for making furniture because of its hardness, durability, and resistance to denting. It's also very easy on your tools when you're carving it. Its natural oil content helps walnut resist decay, too, which makes it a good choice for humid climates or outside applications like table tops or decorative elements that will be exposed to the outdoors.
Walnut is too dense for use in very large objects like ships (the grain density makes walnut unsuitable for water-based uses) but it's used in smaller applications like wooden boat building, canoe paddles, and gun stocks.
Walnut benefits and drawbacks in woodworking
Walnut is easy to use in woodworking because it doesn't splinter easily and takes to stains well, but walnut can look blotchy if you aren't careful about selecting an appropriate stain color.
It's also a durable wood that holds up well over time under regular wear and tear.
On the other hand walnut has a tendency to warp in large pieces, so if you're building a humidor or another walnut piece that needs to stay flat, look for kiln-dried walnut rather than the traditional green walnut.
Best uses of walnut in woodworking
Walnut is a very dense wood and It's best for smaller projects like jewelry boxes
. It's also used in gun stocks and canoe paddles because walnut resists denting so well, plus walnut works easily with hand tools and is a good choice for beginner woodworkers who don't have a lot of power tools to use.
Walnut has its benefits, but walnut can also be challenging when you're building larger objects like chairs or corner cabinets because walnut's density makes it difficult to bend in certain applications.
Woods that pair well with walnut
Maple and walnut pair up nicely when you're making a walnut dining table because both woods work easily with hand tools.
If you want to stay within the walnut family, consider pairing walnut with other types of walnuts or pieces that have walnut veneers on them. This way you can hide pieces that warp and walnut veneers that come out blotchy when you stain them.
Don't pair walnut with other dense woods like cherry or mahogany - walnut will look splotchy when you stain it. Instead, opt for something light in color to contrast walnut's natural darkness, like poplar or pine.
Also, don't pair walnut with materials that have a tendency to split easily, like pine, poplar, or spruce.
If you're looking for lighter walnuts to contrast walnut's natural darkness, consider pairing walnut with ash instead of something as light as pine.
When you're selecting walnut wood look for pieces that have been kiln-dried or air-dried to prevent walnut from warping as it dries out.