Walnut Wood Cutting Boards
Although walnut trees may be better known for their rich and delightful nuts, you may be surprised to find out that a large portion of all furniture in the United States is made of walnut wood for its versatility, ease of growth, and relatively mild tone.
In fact, what makes walnut so special and sought after is actually its versatility and particularly normal appearance. Because it can easily be grown, used for any project, and be stained into any shade imaginable, walnut is perfect for any and all wood designs from furniture and building materials all the way to kitchen islands and, unsurprisingly, cutting boards too.
But, what qualities other than versatility make this wood a great choice for cutting boards and beyond, and why is it being used over the countless other wood materials out there? To explain, let’s delve into exactly what makes walnut one of the best woods out there and truly get to the bottom of the qualities that make this wood stand out more than the rest without fail below.
What Qualities Make Walnut Wood Stand out?
Walnut wood is a very durable and dense wood that is the only dark-brown domestic wood on the market to date. Walnut is also incredibly versatile and lightens in color over time. This is particularly useful for cabinetry or instruments as its natural grain will actually reveal itself further with age.
With a natural lustre and a rich color, walnut wood is used for countless industries and the American black walnut tree is the most popular walnut breed in America. It is mostly found in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois because of their direct sunlight and dry dirt. Walnut is most prevalent in flooring and woodworking but can also be seen in gun stocks, furniture, cabinetry, kitchen items, instruments, veneers, and car interiors. Because it only becomes more dense with age, walnut is ideal for these industries as it ensures these products will last for decades.
Walnut wood is a straight-grained porous wood that stems from a deciduous tree breed and can also be occasionally found with swirls in its grain pattern. However, this swirl pattern is far more rare and used mostly for decorative pieces, gun stocks, guitars, and furniture. On the Janka hardness scale, Walnut ranks 1,010 lbf or 1,010 Janka. With this said, it is harder than cherry wood but not quite as hard as maple wood.
To grow thicker and stronger ,walnut wood is grown in dry and high temperature areas with direct sunlight. It can take anywhere between 50 to 150 years for a walnut tree to be ready to cut down. 50 years is the most common time period but the tree doesn’t fully mature until roughly 150 years. The largest walnut trees can grow up to 150 feet tall with 8 feet in diameter.
The main thing to consider when using walnut is where you buy your walnut wood. While walnut wood is also grown in Canada, the best walnut comes from the dry and hot states in America. As long as you work with a reputable source, you are sure to receive dense and durable wood without fail. On top of this, the walnut wood grown in these states is also sustainable as a new tree is planted for every tree that is cut down. This means that this wood is relatively eco-friendly likewise and requires very little water making it a very sustainable wood source.
What are the Most Common Uses for Walnut Wood?
The American black walnut tree has a myriad of uses but the most common use is for hardwood flooring, furniture, and construction. Walnut wood’s ability to become even more dense over time makes it perfect for contractors as it continues to strengthen architectural design over time. The same can be said for flooring and furniture.
On top of flooring and construction, walnut wood is also used for veneers, gun stocks, instruments, car interiors, kitchen items, counters, cabinets, and woodworking projects. The main reason why this wood is used for gun stocks, instruments, carving, woodworking, and kitchen items is because it is durable but also easy to carve any way you like and works well with various glues, lacquers, and stains. Not to mention that its natural color and lustre also adds to its beauty in and of itself.
In the same sense, walnut wood is used for cabinets, counters, and veneers because it is durable, can handle shock damage and construction materials, and is incredibly dense naturally. This makes for a very sturdy product that can handle all kinds of damage and still only get stronger with age.
Walnut’s Strengths and Weaknesses
As with any material, walnut’s strengths and weaknesses are relatively subjective based on the projects it is being used for. However, when determining what makes this wood better than the countless others on the market, there are a few key factors to take into account including its durability, cost, versatility, sustainability, and supply in America. To break this down, let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses most commonly stated when it comes to walnut wood specifically below.
The Strengths of Walnut
Walnut wood is known for countless strengths across the board and, while this is one of the main reasons we use it for our products specifically, it is still important that you understand the pros and cons we analyzed before making our decision to utilize walnut wood for cutting boards and butcher blocks alike. By doing this, we hope to prove to you exactly why this wood remains one of our top three choices and why it is perfect for kitchen cutting boards and butcher blocks built to last.
• Structurally Sound
One of the main perks of walnut wood is its structural integrity. Unlike certain soft woods or woods that bend and crack easily, walnut wood is straight-grained and dense. This means that it does not bend or break from grain knots or swirls and its density means that it is able to be used for construction and items that are used often without being damaged. It’s shock resistance level is impeccable compared to other woods solely based on its density alone.
Another perk to using walnut wood specifically is just how versatile it truly is. While thin sheets can be used to mold guitar bodies and logs can be carved into ornate shapes, it can also be used to build dense and sturdy furniture and cabinets. The versatility of walnut wood stems from the fact that it is straight-grained and relatively porous making it good for all kinds of projects and not finicky in the slightest.
On top of being structurally sound, walnut wood is also durable. It can withstand changing weathers, slight water damage, and even shock damage from being dropped or dinged repeatedly for years. Because it becomes even harder and denser over time, instead of warping or cracking with age, walnut wood is sure to handle being used daily better as it ages.
If walnut wood is purchased from a reliable resource, it can be incredibly eco-friendly in nature. Because it requires very little water and shade, it does not need a full team or process to grow and, although the growing process is upwards of 50 years, the fact that every tree is immediately replaced when one is cut down means the process is continual and always adding oxygen to our atmosphere.
Lastly, walnut wood is also very cost-effective because it lasts decades rather than a few years. Walnut wood furniture can last hundreds of years even and walnut wood only becomes more dense as time goes on. While walnut wood is a bit more expensive than other woods on the market, its lifespan alone makes it far more cost-effective as a cutting board than plastic or thin wood boards that are sure to break, warp, or crack in no time.
Now that we’ve analyzed the strengths of this wood, it’s time to take a closer look at some of its pitfalls to see if they apply to cutting board production specifically below.
The Weaknesses of Walnut
Even the most proficient materials are bound to have a few weaknesses here and there. However, most of walnut wood’s weaknesses are subjective and really depend on the projects they are being used for specifically.
Despite this, knowing the most common complaints that various industries have when it comes to a certain material is the best way to determine whether or not this material is right for the products you aim to purchase. With this being said, below are the most common weaknesses that are discussed regarding walnut wood so you can determine exactly why walnut wood is still perfect for cutting boards and is sure to last.
• More Dense
One of the most common complaints associated with walnut wood specifically is how dense it is in comparison to other woods. For big projects such as cabinets or furniture, this density can become more of a problem than a perk. However, for kitchen items such as cutting boards, density is highly important to ensure that the board can withstand being cut on, potentially dropped, and worn down year after year.
• Slightly Harder to Find
Another downfall to utilizing walnut wood over other woods on the market is the fact that it has a long growing period and can only be grown in certain regions. This means that it can be a bit more difficult to find which increases its price relatively. Fortunately, another reason why it is so popular is because it is used at such a high rate. This means that despite the uptick in costs, it is guaranteed to be worth it as nearly every industry relies on walnut wood for one project or another.
• More Porous Naturally
Whether walnut is being used for hardwood flooring, countertops, or even kitchen items such as cutting boards and bowls, the porous nature of this material does pose a concern. However, because walnut wood is dense and straight-grained, it responds to lacquers and finishes nicely and can be maintained regularly to avoid warping or damage nonetheless. With this said, its porous texture is something to consider but is certainly not worth foregoing this material altogether by no means.
• More Expensive Than Other Materials
As stated above, the fact that this wood is in such high demand but can only be grown in specific regions and has such a long growing period makes it a bit more expensive than other common woods out there like ash and oak. However, walnut wood’s high demand is primarily because of its quality. With this being said, the quality of the wood alone makes the price worth it and the lifespan that comes with this material ensures that it is cost-effective no matter what it is being used for.
• Must be Maintained More Regularly
Lastly, since walnut wood is a dense and rich wood unlike the cheaper woods or plastics that some cutting boards are made out of at other retail stores, it does require more care to keep in good condition. However, by simply cleaning it regularly, polishing the wood, and making sure no water stays on the wood after use, your walnut cutting board is sure to last for far longer than these cheap materials even though they require less care to use.
Now that both the pros and cons of walnut wood have been laid out, you may still be wondering how these pros and cons interact with walnut wood cutting board production specifically. Fortunately, by simply taking these elements of walnut wood and comparing them to the qualities that make up the best cutting boards on the market, we can determine exactly why walnut wood is so ideal below.
How do These Qualities Make for a High-Class Cutting Board?
To understand why these particular attributes of walnut wood make for a perfect cutting board material, let’s first look at what makes a high-class cutting board so unique. The main aspects to consider when purchasing a cutting board are its durability, the material’s average lifespan, and its resistance to cutting and liquids on its surface.
For starters, with walnut wood, its density and ranking on the Janka scale alone showcase just how durable this material actually is. Unlike other weaker woods, walnut wood is guaranteed to be able to absorb shock, be used for years without cracking or warping, and actually become even stronger as time goes by.
On top of this, walnut wood is also a long-lasting wood that, if treated properly, is sure to last far longer than other cheap plastic or wood cutting boards on the market. While you may spend less to start, over time, the walnut board will prove its cost-effectiveness as the other boards break and warp.
Lastly, walnut wood may be relatively porous compared to other woods but it is also very durable and flexible making it able to withstand quite a bit of deep cuts and liquid damage without warping or breaking apart.
With all of this being said, walnut is not just one of the best woods on the market but remains one of our main three wood materials for all of our cutting boards and butcher blocks alike. With our clients in mind, our team sought to find the best of the best and, by looking through the pros and cons that make this wood what it is, it’s clear to see why walnut ‘stood out in the forest’ from the start.
To learn more about how to care for your cutting board and significantly increase its lifespan in doing so, check out our informative blog today!