The high demand for walnut continues, according to dealers interviewed by Woodshop News. Claro walnut (Juglans hindsii), a domestic from the Northwest, is particularly sought after.
“I think what’s popular with the claro is the fact that there’s lots of color variation. It goes from chocolaty brown with black streaks to having hues of purple and orange,” says Aaron Blumenkron of Goby Walnut Products in Portland, Ore.
“I see it used for mantles, bar tops, conference tables, big long live-edge benches, and commercial installations are picking up on the live-edge movement as well. The commercial design used to be a little more clean and architectural, whereas now they’re trending towards more organic.”
Scot Wineland of Wineland Walnut in Chico, Calif., which specializes in highly figured walnut, offers several reasons for claro’s popularity.
“It has a lot to do with the machinability of the wood and because the wood that we produce in this particular area is so highly prized because of the color and the figure that’s in it. It’s a lot different than the Eastern black walnut. It’s got lot more color and figure. It’s a guitar-grade type of wood. We sell a lot for gunstocks because of the figuring in them. It’s also from bigger trees. We have a sawmill 7’ across and 20’ long so we can cut a lot of conference table size pieces or for a dining room table.”
Clint Dillon of Steve Wall Lumber in Mayodan, N.C., reports that Eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra) is also selling well.
“We’re mainly seeing it used with customers making high-end furniture, and it’s also popular with high-end hobbyists making coffee tables. Live-edge is a big thing right now and walnut’s always been a popular wood, so if you have live-edge walnut, that’s kind of the best of both worlds,” says Dillon.
“The live-edge walnut slabs that we sell are actually doing pretty good right now. It’s always sold well, but it just seems like people are a little more on the lookout for it lately. We have a lot of it. There’ve been times when sales have increased and the supply has gotten tight, but we have enough.”
Eastern black walnut (4/4 FAS) sells for around $6.25/bf., according to several retail quotes. Clear 4/4 claro walnut was quoted at $7-$10/bf. Figured or fiddleback claro is selling for $10-$18/bf, depending on width.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue.