The difference between English, European and American walnut
We love English walnut, it is one of the most precious and most remarkable of timbers. It cuts and planes exceptionally well, soft & silky with dark mineral lines and finish that glows.
Walnut is one of the darkest native hardwoods growing in Europe, with rich toffee & chocolate figured wood, full of beautiful natural features. The stresses that occur in the life of the tree causing beautiful figuring and unusual markings are often the same stresses and strains that cause cracks, knots, splits and shakes. We enhance these scars with carefully prepared by our chemical engineer resins and liquid metals to create the most unusual surfaces such as tables, breakfast bars and statement counters.
We also use English walnut timber for quirky furniture such as desks, benches, wall features or as a sensual accent wall. Our precisely kiln dried timber is also used for gun stocks. The dark colouring, deep lustre and smokey pattern of the wood is treasured in the most impressive applications.
English walnut trees, grow to the maximum height around 3.5m, but may be around 800-900mm in diameter – we cut them into live edge slabs 40mm, 60mm and 80mm thickness and from the rest we get decent width walnut planks which are either used for manufacturing full stave and wide stave worktops or we sell them by boards to the public, artists and best furniture makers in England.
All our timber is air dried for a long period of time, followed by a precise vacuum kiln drying process, to achieve the desired wood stability and 8% moisture content. The price of European walnut starts at £2400 plus vat per cubic metre or £68+vat per cubic foot. English walnut slabs live edged (waney edge) start at £400+vat and they are minimum 450mm wide.
European walnut is available mainly in the form of panels and worktops which undergone the process of steaming. This procedure takes some of the dark chocolate colouration from the heart of the tree and is absorbed by the sapwood to turn what is a less valuable sap into an imitation of precious heartwood. Unfortunately, this process takes away the natural smokiness of English walnut changing the colour scheme into a red palette.
American walnut on the other hand, is very different species, growing much taller, in excess of 4 metre in height. The timber is widely available in varying thicknesses. The problem with American walnut in general, is lower density, making it relatively soft and easily marked timber. It is suitable for making doors and cabinets but not really good for worktops or floor boards unless it is going to be treated with a great care.
American walnut arrives in container loads of kiln dried timber, sawn with two straight edges; rush dried and randomly mixed, so you would have to be very fortunate to find the boards that came from the same tree. The wood is light brown to dark chocolate colour with creamy coloured sapwood. The slightly open grain is typically straight.