The Natural Beauty of Black Walnut
North American Black Walnut wood is truly in a class of its own. Arguably the most sought after solid wood among woodworkers, carpenters and furniture makers, its enviable combination of natural beauty, dimensional stability and strength make it ideal for crafting into stunning one-of-a-kind dining tables and other standout pieces of furniture.
In Singapore, Wood Capitol is the premium supplier of ethically sourced black walnut ‘live edge’ solid wood slabs. Unlike its competitors, which sell joined slabs comprising two or more pieces of timber consecutively cut from the same tree, Wood Capitol only sells large single-piece slabs from very mature trees.
An investment in a black walnut slab is a highly personal purchase decision. In addition to the fact that no two pieces are alike, your black walnut furniture will travel with you for a lifetime and may even form part of the legacy you leave behind. Before you commit to black walnut, read on and invest a little time in getting to know it better.
A Tree that Bears Many Gifts
One of North America’s most valuable and beautiful native trees, the black walnut tree, or Juglans nigra, is a slow-growing deciduous tree that can grow up to 40 metres in height, with a diameter in excess of 1.2 metres upon reaching maturity at around 150 years.
When growing in close proximity to other trees in the forest, black walnut trees will seek out the light above the canopy and grow straight and tall with few, if any, lower branches. When cultivated in open spaces, they will branch out closer to the ground and not soar to the heights they would otherwise attain in a dense forest setting.
Besides timber, the black walnut tree bears many other gifts. Their delicious and nutritious nuts are widely used in baking and are pressed to make gourmet edible oil. In addition, the pigments found in the hulls of the nuts have been used by generations as ink and as natural dyes for yarns and handicrafts.
Straight, dark, heavy, strong and fine-grained, black walnut wood has a rich brown creamy heartwood and a creamy yellow to white sapwood. Such is the beauty of its natural colour, which can be tinged with purple, red or chocolate hues, that it is often used unstained.
When the early American settlers found black walnut trees growing in abundance in mixed forests from Canada to northern Florida and west to the Great Plains, they noticed that its heartwood was highly resistant to decay. For this very reason, they used it extensively in fence posts, poles, shingles, and sills. Subsequently, black walnut became the choice of artisans and carpenters, and is widely used for making furniture, gunstocks, oars and other items.
Today, there is increasing demand for ‘live edge’ black walnut slabs with undulating edges that follow the surface of the trunks of the trees from which they are cut. Uniquely irregular yet not so erratic as to interfere with functionality, these elegant lines add to the unique form of the finished piece of furniture. ‘Live edge’ furniture, be it from black walnut, suar wood or any other type of timber, injects a refined rusticity into modern homes. It also optimises the usable piece of wood, avoiding timber wastage from offcuts.
Not to Be Confused with…
Black walnut is sometimes confused with Suar Wood, which is known in some parts of the world as South American walnut.
The only drawback to working with black walnut is the longer-than-average time required for drying. Wood Capitol imports only premium, mature black walnut from North America and has it kiln-dried in a quality-controlled facility in China before shipping it to Singapore. Thereafter, it is left to it rest in the warehouse for a minimum of 6 months, to allow it time to acclimatise to our tropical conditions before being made into furniture.
The Case for Single Pieces
Due to the slenderness of the black walnut tree’s trunk relative to its height, even mature black walnut trees yield slabs that seldom exceed a width of 60 millimetres. For this very reason, Wood Capitol goes to great lengths to source the widest available pieces of timber from exceedingly mature trees, to avoid the need to join pieces together. These wide single pieces are destined to become solid ‘live edge’ black walnut tables, counters, benches, bookshelves and more.
Unlike Wood Capitol’s single-piece black walnut slabs, other ‘live edge’ wood suppliers and furniture makers sell joined pieces comprising two or more pieces of timber. To achieve this, they join two or more pieces cut successively from the same tree with a process known as book-matching. The same term is used to describe the process of matching marble and natural stone grains in a symmetrical and optimally aesthetic way that minimises the visibility of the joins.
Though book-matched black walnut slabs are undeniably attractive, they lack the grandeur of a single-piece slab and are generally thinner. Wood Capitol’s single-piece slabs range from 55mm to 60mm in thickness, compared to an industry average of 40mm for bookmatched pieces. The thicker the piece, the more it can withstand multiple sandings and repairs in the event of damage, since every sanding removes an average of 2mm from the slab. Therefore the thicker the black walnut slab, buffering in the inevitable need for future maintenance, the longer its lifetime.
Another point to consider when weighing up the relative merits of single-piece slabs versus joined slabs is the fact that joined slabs are not suited for dining tables because of the grooves. Since a dining table with invariably require washing and see many spillages over its years of service, it is advisable to use single pieces to avoid the pooling of dust, debris and liquids.
No Fancy Showroom, No Expensive Rental, Just Superb Single-piece Black Walnut Wood Slabs
Though black walnut and in fact all solid timber slabs are undoubtedly pricier that wood veneers and laminates, they are a worthwhile investment. A quality piece of solid black walnut furniture by Wood Capitol can last for generations and become a family heirloom.
Though its furniture is by no means cheap, every piece of ‘live edge’ furniture crafted by Wood Capitol represents solid value for money. The Singapore-based wood furniture maker keeps its prices reasonable by cutting out the middle man and sourcing its black walnut slabs directly from legal and ethical plantations and timber merchants in North America.
We further controls costs by deliberately not operating a retail showroom in a central city location. Instead, it sells direct from its warehouse and adjoining workshop in Mandai Estate.
Black Walnut in the Little Red Dot
View Singapore’s largest collection of Single Piece Black Walnut slabs in Mandai Estate showroom of Wood Capitol now!