Black Walnut Slabs for Spacious Dining Tables: Yay or Nay?

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Black Walnut Table

For carpenters, craftsmen and wood makers, Black Walnut is typically the icon of grandeur. Who wouldn’t be mesmerised by its rich, dark chocolate tone and beautiful patterns of grains that are hard to find anywhere else?

Given that it’s a decorative figure, it feels like having a piece of art and furnishings in your space simultaneously. This is why black walnut has become one of the most popular choices for wood-making projects, especially dining tables.

But how reliable and durable is a black walnut slab? What is the reason behind its expensive price that makes it inaccessible to the budget-conscious market? You might even wonder if its characteristics like durability and beautiful patterns can be found in more affordable slabs like Suar wood, among many others.

If you’re still on the fence about purchasing black walnut slabs for your dining table, take a look at its pros and cons below.

Getting Started: What Is Black Walnut?

Black Walnut is considered one of the most delicate North American lumber species. It is native to North America, and its history began with Native Americans taking advantage of its parts for different purposes like building houses and fence posts.

It usually grows to lengths of up to 40 metres and widths of 1.2 metres, making its dimensions ideal for a big dining table. And thanks to its robustness, black walnut can also be used for wood making, gunstocks and musical instruments like guitars and kalimba!

Aide from timber, the black walnut tree is known for its nutritious and tasty nuts you can use in baking. The pigments you’ll find in the hulls of the nuts have also been used by several generations as dyes for handicrafts and yarns.

It’s like what they say: black walnut is a gift that keeps on giving. However, when it comes to table-making, black walnut has weaknesses that you should be aware of. You’re likely going to spend a huge amount of money, so you have to know whether you’ll get a good deal out of it or not.

Black Walnut Table and Bench

Pros & Cons of Black Walnut You Should Know


Colour and Tone

The colour of a black walnut slab will highly depend on the age and parts of the tree it is produced from. For the sapwood (outermost part), the colour commonly ranges from dark yellow to grey to bright white. Since it is the newest growth of the tree, it bears a paler colour than the heartwood.

Meanwhile, the heartwood (innermost part) is where the deep hues come from. You’d notice that its colour would usually range from deep-chocolate brown to purple to grey. Sometimes, red or darker stripes may also appear.

Unlike other hardwood species like lychee wood & tamarind wood, black walnut gradually gets darker as it ages. Darkened black walnut wood cultivated from mature black walnut trees creates an elegant and expensive impression, making it highly desired by many people.

Grain and Pattern

Black walnut is generally straight-grained. However, some irregularities such as knots or burls can occur in the wood. A burl is caused by an abnormal growth pattern because the tree’s new branches tend to grow rapidly. 

As a result, burls in walnut wood create unique, beautiful patterns that make it popular among carpenters and wood producers. But in some cases, a black walnut slab that has a burled pattern is used to create smaller items since it’s not a good fit for larger furniture pieces. 


High Cost

One of the most restrictive features of black walnut tables is their higher price point compared to other wood. It requires a significant investment, which can be inconvenient for homeowners who are on a tight budget.  The main reason why it’s too expensive is that it takes more than 300 years to mature and only grows in selected regions with USDA hardiness zones of 5a to 9a.

It is also under the protection of the Endangered Species Act of the United States where it is cited as an endangered species, making its price more costly. There are more budget-friendly options with the same durability and grandeur like Suar Wood from South America. Why spend your hard-earned money when you can cut down costs and still enjoy the same advantages without breaking the bank?

Vulnerable To Weather Changes

Dining spaces become more relaxing and accommodating when it’s basked in natural light. But when you have a dining table made of black walnut, you can’t place it under direct sunlight since it’s not resistant to weather changes and moisture. 

Excessive sun exposure will make it look less fascinating. Be careful not to leave it too long in open spaces!

Long Black Walnut Dining Table

Single Pieces vs Book-Matched: Why Buy Black Walnut Wood Slabs From Wood Capitol

Since the trunks of black walnut trees are typically slender, even the mature ones rarely produce slabs with more than a width of 80 cm. This is why Wood Capitol goes above and beyond in importing the widest available pieces of timber so we can provide you with ‘live edge’ black walnut tables to liven up your space.

It’s also the reason why other suppliers in the market mostly sell book-matched black walnut slabs. They combine two or more cut pieces from the same tree and reduce the visibility of the joints to make it look like a single slab. This process makes the wood thinner with an average of 40 mm in thickness, scaling down its natural glory. Joint slabs aren’t also recommended for dining tables due to their grooves. 

Single-piece black walnut slabs, on the other hand, range from 50 mm to 60 mm in thickness. It can endure sanding and repairs if ever it gets damaged or stained. Remember, every sanding will remove about 2 mm from the slab, so you need something thicker in the long run.

Simply put, buying single pieces that Wood Capitol offers instead of joint ones will ensure that you get the most out of your investment. You have something made to last that can stand the test of time!

Changi Airport Black Walnut Solid Wood Conference Table


Is black walnut wood valuable?

Yes, black walnut is considered to be one of the most valuable hardwoods due to its durability, unique patterns and versatility.

What is black walnut wood best for?

Black walnut wood is best for making tables such as vanity tables, cocktail tables and dining room tables, among others.

Is a single-piece slab better than book-matched pieces?

Yes, a single-piece black walnut slab is a better investment than joined pieces. The former is generally thicker, has a longer lifetime and maintains the natural elegance that black walnut is known for. 

Final Thoughts: Should You Choose Black Walnut?

When it comes to buying tables, you have to be familiar with the kind of wood slab you’re planning to purchase. In the case of black walnut, although it’s popular for its colour, durability and unique patterns, it is not perfectly suited for large pieces like dining tables.

Chances are, other wood suppliers can only offer joined timber pieces that are prone to cracks and dents. The good news is, Wood Capitol offers Suar Wood single-piece slabs as an alternative to black walnut. 

This is perfect for homeowners who want family heirlooms without having to spend beyond their means. Besides, Suar Wood slabs can give your home a sense of authenticity, craftsmanship and eco-friendliness in one go.

We will be more than happy to work with you and select the piece that matches your needs. Since every piece is completely customisable while maintaining its live edge, your table ideas are in great hands. You can visit our showroom or give us a call for more information.