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Walnut’s popularity affecting availability


Black walnut (Juglans negra), also known as eastern American black walnut, is experiencing higher demand than normal, according to several suppliers interviewed by Woodshop News.

“It’s been the best I’ve seen it in a long time,” says Doug White of Doug White Hardwoods in Marissa, Ill. “Walnut’s really moving. I don’t know why it’s taken off again, but it has. It was still for years and now it’s come back and it’s more popular now than it’s been in the past 10 years.

“Walnut’s being used for anything and everything.”

Lou Irion of Irion Lumber in Wellsboro, Pa. says most walnut boards - about 75 percent of them - are going towards architectural millwork projects such as offices and libraries, and furniture makers.

“We sell mostly dimension lumber although we’ve gotten into selling walnut slabs. But what we’ve seen, particularly in the dimension lumber, is it’s very hard to buy. It’s gotten very expensive and it’s also the lumber that’s in the highest demand for us so it’s a little difficult to navigate the walnut market and keep in enough stock to keep our customers happy,” says Irion.

“It’s probably a combination of the fact they’ve been harvesting walnut for a long time, and it is a minor species but also a lot of the logs are going overseas, so a lot of the lumber never sees the domestic market. It’s definitely a seller’s market.”

Walnut is the most expensive wood Irion sells, including curly maple, curly cherry and mahogany. His pricing for 4/4 FAS stock is up to $9/bf and higher for thicker cuts.

“We’ve had to raise our prices some and demand is still putting a real strain on the supply,” he says.

“Pricing’s way up, it’s one of the hotter woods on the market,” adds White.

Matt Gilland of Superior Veneer & Plywood in New Albany, Ind. says walnut has been a dominant seller on the veneer side for quite some time.

“We’re still seeing that plain sliced walnut is a pretty hot item. So, we’re still getting a lot of requests for walnut. It seems like plain sliced is a little more popular right now than quartered but yeah, definitely, walnut is staying hot, at least right at this moment. It’s been going on quite a while. I’m not sure I can tell you exactly how long it’s been. It’s been a few years that we’ve seen walnut be very popular,” says Gilland.  

This article was originally published in the September 2021 issue.

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