Walnut is an exotic wood displaying a rich colour which varies depending on the particular walnut species. From American walnut to African, Australian and European walnut, the finish and colours of walnut veneers do vary, but the consistent factor is that this remains one of the most popular woods used in veneering, especially for high end applications such as bespoke kitchens and elegant interiors.
Walnut displays a unique structure which is what makes it so highly desirable. There are literally no two pieces the same.
Burr and curl walnut, characteristic of the American and European species, are particularly appealing as veneers, especially mottle figured European walnut, European sap walnut and butty or wild European walnut, although some of these are now considered rare.
What are the most popular types of walnut veneer?
European walnut is part of the wider walnut tree family. It is a heartwood tree, presenting lighter coloured wood than its American counterpart. It is found throughout western Europe and even as far as China. Not common in the wild, it is mostly grown in southern Europe for fruit.
The heartwood of European walnut tends to be grey-brown and often displays random darker streaks. Wood taken from the centre of the log is often darker. You may find a wavy grain in figured styles, and the sapwood will be a lot lighter.
The shades of European walnut vary depending on where the tree grows. Italian walnut is usually darker compared to the pale, greyish French walnut for example, plus it tends to display a more prominent figure and stronger markings.
American walnut, also known as black walnut, is found extensively in the USA and eastern parts of Canada. It displays a purple-brown heartwood and pale sapwood. American walnut doesn’t vary in colour as much as European walnut.
Burr walnut comes from natural growths in the tree and some root material. When cut, it displays as closely clustered buds or little knots within a swirling pattern. Californian walnut burl comes about as a by-product of the American nut producing industry.
What are the different walnut veneer cuts?
Walnut is one of those timbers that works incredibly well as a veneer. European walnut is well figured when crown cut, and the burr veneer taken from the stump is particularly attractive.
American walnut tends to come from larger logs that produce a high quantity of consistent and therefore more affordable veneer. American varieties also include exotic burry and burr wood, a lot of which comes from the roots of nut producing trees.
African walnut presents well in quarter and crown cut, whilst American walnut is particularly attractive in crown cut and straight grain. Australian walnut is best quarter cut, whilst European walnut is probably the most versatile with a range of cuts and finishes possible.
How do you use a walnut veneer?
Walnut veneers are mostly used as decorative panels due to their incredibly eye-catching appeal. Matching techniques are important to achieve the best effects, especially for more extensive jobs.
You will often find walnut veneers used as inlaid panels in bespoke kitchen cabinetry, as well as in custom crafted furniture for bedrooms and living spaces. It is a warm coloured timber that lends itself to a homely feel whilst creating an elegant yet contemporary impression.
Walnut veneer tables, especially dining tables, are particularly popular as this timber is hard wearing and therefore able to withstand everyday wear and tear. It is also resistant to cleaning chemicals and biodegradation. Good care is important, but in general you will find walnut an incredibly good, long term investment.
Walnut veneer expertise from Read Veneers
Are you looking to work walnut veneer into your interior project? We work closely with many cabinet makers, joiners and interior designers to create exceptional veneered projects using all types of walnut veneers.
To discover how you could make walnut veneers bring your project to life, you are welcome to get in touch for tailored advice.
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