English Walnut vs. Black Walnut Wood

Walnut wood is known for its durability, toughness, and ability to resist shock well. It is used for many different purposes, such as to make stringed instruments, making cabinets, veneers, shotgun stocks, etc.

The Black walnut tree (Juglans Nigra) is a deciduous tree that belongs to the ‘Juglandaceae’ family (walnut family) and is native to North America. The trees can grow for more than 250 years.

The English walnut tree (Juglans Regia) can also be called Common walnut or European walnut. It belongs to the ‘Juglandaceae’ family and has a lifespan of up to 150 years. It is native to Iran and Southwest China.

Even though they belong to the walnut family, there are differences between these trees: the texture. English walnut is has a soft and smooth texture with more minor ridges, while the black walnut tree has a hard texture.

English Walnut vs Black Walnut Wood
 English Walnut WoodBlack Walnut Wood
Average dried weight38 lbs./ft³40 lbs./ft³
GrowthThe English walnut tree takes longer to reach maturity (three years). The trees grow more than 24 inches a year.The Black walnut tree grows very fast and can reach 3-4 feet (36-48 inches) in height a year.
ColorThe sapwood has a whitish color, while the heartwood color ranges from light brown to dark chocolate brown. You may also find gray, red, or purple cast.The color of the sapwood ranges from an off-white to a yellowish gray. The color of the heartwood ranges from pale brown to dark chocolate.
GrainEnglish walnut wood grain is irregular but typically straight. The end grain is semi-porous with distinct growth rings.Black walnut wood is dense and tight-grained. It is usually straight but can be irregular sometimes.
WorkabilityEnglish walnut wood has a faint odor when worked on, but it stains, finishes, and glues well.It is easy to work with when the grain is straight. It stains, glues, and finished well.

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Key Differences between English Walnut and Black Walnut Wood

English walnut wood and black walnut wood are the two most common walnut wood types. When mature, the English walnut tree can reach a height of 40-60 feet, and the Black walnut tree can reach 100-120 feet.

Below are some of the key differences between these two types of wood.

Strength

Based on the Janka hardness scale rating, the English walnut wood has the upper hand in strength. It is ranked at 1,220 lbf, while the black walnut wood is rated at 1,010 lbf.

Black walnut wood is considered moderately hard, especially since it is softer than domestic hardwoods. Black walnut wood does have a slightly higher crushing strength than English walnut wood, with the former being 52.3 MPa and the latter being 50.2 MPa.

Durability

Durability is essential importance to consider when purchasing wood for any purpose. Both kinds of wood have pretty much the same ratings when it comes to durability. The higher the durability, the longer your wood is likely to last.

English walnut wood is considered moderately durable because it can resist decay. Unfortunately, it is prone to insect attacks. Black walnut wood is very high in durability when resisting rot, but it is also prone to insect attacks.

Uses

You can use these two wood choices for many different purposes.

English walnut wood can be used for several things, and some of them are listed below:

  • You can use it in making furniture pieces like cabinets.
  • It can be used in making musical instruments like guitar.
  • You can use it for box making, wood carving, and outdoor construction.
  • It is used in making top-notch shotgun stocks.
  • It is used in making veneers and lumbers.

Some of the essential things that Black walnut wood can be used for are listed below:

  • It is used in the manufacturing of furniture pieces.
  • Its ability to resist shock make it perfect for gunstocks.
  • You can used it in making musical instruments.
  • It is used for flooring purposes and can make sculptures.

Similarities Between English Walnut Wood and Black Walnut Wood

Apart from belonging to the same family, the English walnut and Black walnut wood are known for being versatile, durable, and for their aesthetic value.

They Belong To the Juglandaceae Family

The Juglandaceae family can also be known as the walnut family, and they are trees or shrubs usually native to America, Eurasia, Southeast Asia. It has around fifty species, including the essential nut-producing trees.

Versatility and Aesthetic Value

The English Walnut and Black walnut wood have in common their versatility in woodworking and construction as they are used in making several things. Apart from furniture, these two wood choices are used to make a couple of other items listed above.

The colors of these two wood choices are also very pleasing to look at. A natural oil finish brings out the colors of the English walnut and Black walnut wood nicely.

Pros and Cons of English Walnut Wood

Pros

  • English Walnut wood is capable of resisting warping.
  • It glues, stains and finishes nicely.
  • It is easy to work with when the grain is straight and regular.
  • English Walnut wood has a smooth and soft texture with fewer ridges.
  • It has a higher Janka hardness scale rating than the Black walnut wood.

Cons

  • It is susceptible to insect attacks.
  • English Walnut wood has a faint odor when being worked on.
  • It usually causes eye and skin irritation.

Pros and Cons of Black Walnut Wood

Pros

  • It is incredibly durable and rot-resistant.
  • It is one of the most accessible woods to work with.
  • Black Walnut wood is capable of resisting shock and has good stability.
  • It has a high adhesive performance.
  • It has a beautiful appearance.

Cons

  • Black walnut wood is photosensitive, meaning the color fades when exposed to extreme sunlight.
  • It is prone to insect attacks.
  • The wood is rare, and this increases the price.

Conclusion

If you want a wood choice that is high in durability and rot-resistant, your best choice will be Black walnut wood. Although, both choices are still susceptible to insect attacks.

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