What’s With the Walnut?

22 . 02 . 13

This week we’re going to tell you about how we use walnut in our surfboards.  You may have noticed how we use hardwood accent strips on the deck and bottom panels of our surfboards, partly to add strength to a board and also to break up the grain pattern of the western red cedar which is the dominant material used in our boards.

We use Black Walnut (juglans nigra) which comes from the Eastern states of the USA and is used by a local hardwood flooring specialists, Woodstock, based just down the road from us in Falmouth.  Woodstock invariably end up with long, thin, offcuts when  laying hardwood flooring or cutting kitchen worktops for customers, and there’s not a great deal that they can do with them.  These offcuts are absolutely ideal for us however, as we only need long, thin strips of hardwood because of the shapes of our surfboards, so every now and then we head on down to their workshop and take a load off their hands.  We’d love to be using English Walnut (which is the tree whose nuts are most commonly harvested to be eaten), however American Walnut is what’s available to us, and we feel that by using up another company’s offcuts we’re not letting any timber go to waste.  It’s the woodworking equivalent of “nose-to-tail” eating.

American Black Walnut is a deep brown colour, almost chocolaty, which turns darker and richer when laminated.  It is relatively straight grained and has occasional “birds eye” knots, however it sometimes has anomalies in the grain (such as burr) which make it incredibly popular for woodturning and ornate items.  It is most commonly used for veneers (where a thin slice of wood is taken and glued onto a facia to give it the appearance of being solid walnut), decorative panelling, ornate furniture such as chairs or cabinets, and gunstocks.  It is a strong, durable wood and one of the few readily available hardwoods that give us a naturally dark colour when laying up the deck and bottom panels of our surfboards.  We’re a big fan of American Black Walnut, which is why you’ll see it running down, or parallel to, the centre line of so many of our surfboards and handplanes.

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