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 Post subject: Tell me about walnut?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:27 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
Posts: 451
Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
After having worked with mahogany on my first build and near to closing the box on my second build with EIR I'm looking for something different for my upcoming third build and the thought of walnut has me intrigued. I've heard recounts over at OLF that it's easier to work with than mahogany and since EIR is now CITES restricted I like that it can be found locally.

Moving forward then, I'm wondering what its tonal properties are and what soundboard woods best compliment it? I've heard that it pairs best with redwood but I'm wondering how it does with Adi or Carpathian spruce?

On a nearly unrelated note, I plan my next build to be a deep body, short scale 00 (I've always had a soft spot for little guitars with big voices) and I'm wondering about the wood choices for that as well. I'm located near Pittsburgh, PA and my local Martin dealer has a Martin custom shop 00-14 that's a 1/2" deeper than the standard 00 with black walnut back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top and I'm intrigued to give it a try. Unfortunately, I don't have $4K burning a hole in my pocket. I already have the neck ready to go thanks to John Hall and the Guitar Maker's Connection at Martin. I just need to get the materials for the plates and slats in order and make a mold out of birch plywood using an old 00 size in my possession as a reference.

Finally, I'm wondering about how best to work with it? When I worked with mahogany I found that it could be almost brittle and I had to proceed cautiously, relying more on sandpaper and scrapers that chisels and planes; a lighter, more refined touch was required. OTOH when I worked with EIR I found that the wood was sturdier so that I could used planes with less restraint but that blades became dulled very quickly. A dull blade as you know can sometimes have disastrous results to both the materials and hands; mahogany seems to want to break off into bigger pieces in unexpected ways while EIR chips into little daggers. What can I expect from walnut?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 10:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
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My first build was an OM made out of Peruvian Walnut. I'm also starting a build with local West Virginia black walnut.

I had no problems working either the Peruvian or black walnut. I'd say that it compares favorably to Honduran mahogany in workability, although it seemed a bit harder. The walnut I'm working with, and have worked with is very figured. It bends fairly easy and I've not had any problems with cracking. It will burn easily when using power tools, so take your time.

I used carpathian spruce with the Peruvian, and it sounded great. I think for a 00, I'd go with Adirondack. My second build was a deep body 00-12 fret. I used WV cherry though and not walnut. The cherry, like the walnut, came from a local lumber company. All of the boards that I found are quite old. They didn't even have this wood on their computer, because they didn't know this wood was in the storage rafters.

My cherry 00 has an Appalachian red spruce top. My 00 has more projection and a quicker attack than the OM. She has a great voice. Cherry is a nice choice of wood too for 00. I've had 3 offers from people who want to buy my 00, but she's not for sale.

I'm sure that both the carpathian and the adi will work great with the walnut. I'd probably have to toss a coin, or go on looks.

I've had no problems using my low angle planes and chisels with the walnut. But make sure they're scary sharp.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:44 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:14 pm
Posts: 1110
I built my first guitar with black walnut. It's described here:
viewtopic.php?f=48&t=6884&hilit=martin
There may be some useful comments about my experience using walnut buried in there someplace...or maybe not.

As best I can recall, I didn't have any particular problems with it. I did find that the grain was a bit coarse and it had a slight tendency to splinter, but not enough to be a significant problem. The grain does need filling before finishing.

My biggest problem with it was the sawdust. I discovered that I''m sensitive to it if I didn't wear a respirator when sanding I would start coughing.

I would certainly use walnut again though.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:29 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
Posts: 5699
Location: Hegins, Pa
walnut will make a great gutiar and there are so many different walnuts. Look for as well quartered as you can get. Enjoy. THere are other local woods
catalpa
Poplar
cherry
white oak
these all can make a good guitar

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:33 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:50 am
Posts: 576
Location: Chadds Ford, PA
Neil,
Looking forward to your walnut build. I'm particularly interested because I would like to do two later this year using figured wood from the KGF sponsor RC Tonewoods and from a tree in my back yard (http://www.kitguitarsforum.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7333). I've played Martin's black walnut guitars at the Nazareth store and have no doubts about walnut's suitability for instruments. Now that I think about it, I did use juglans nigra for a lute many years ago, no issues at all with that one.
-d.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:42 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
Posts: 451
Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
Danl8 wrote:
Neil,
Looking forward to your walnut build. I'm particularly interested because I would like to do two later this year using figured wood from the KGF sponsor RC Tonewoods and from a tree in my back yard (http://www.kitguitarsforum.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7333). I've played Martin's black walnut guitars at the Nazareth store and have no doubts about walnut's suitability for instruments. Now that I think about it, I did use juglans nigra for a lute many years ago, no issues at all with that one.
-d.


Cheers, Danl. I've been looking at some of that very same wood. I bought the EIR set for my second build in progress from RC Tonewoods and I was very satisfied with the price - though the way they marked it for bookmatching was off. One half was flipped, but I figured it out.

I see that you aged that walnut of yours. If I were to buy a set from RC tonewoods would it be prudent to let it sit for a year before working on it? I do need to finish up my #2, after all!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:29 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:50 am
Posts: 576
Location: Chadds Ford, PA
Neil,
The wood from RCT should be ready to go. Some will recommend that the incoming wood sit a bit of time to allow a new set adjust to your workshop humidity level. Unless there's a big mismatch in moisture content with the workshop conditions, I personally don't wait. Would be nice to hear how others feel about this.
-d.
PS: check out post #140 at https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=505198&page=10 for killer walnut.


Last edited by Danl8 on Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:00 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
Posts: 1612
John just reminded me of what I noticed about walnut. It has really large and deep pores, so expect to have to pore fill more than with EIR. But, the end result is well worth it, because it comes alive and almost 3 dimensional.

As beautiful as the Peruvian walnut was, I like the black walnut more. It's more bassy and the grain is beautiful.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:10 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
Posts: 451
Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
While I haven't pore filled the EIR yet I did do one of Rockler's jewelry boxes that was made of walnut and would concur with that assessment. While I didn't have to cut or bend anything, it was my first attempt at applying finish to wood and it didn't come out so well because of the pores wanting to drink in the brush on poly. My next attempt at finishing went a little better but I think I did pretty well when it came time to finish my first build, which was mahogany. I'm thinking that I'm going to have to get reacquainted with my cabinet scraper; I REALLY hate sanding and the scraper saved a lot of work.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:38 am 
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Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 8:03 am
Posts: 920
Location: Chestertown Maryland
I might suggest staying away from highly figured wood for your third guitar. Either that, or buy extra, similar pieces for the sides to practice on. I have used a lot of walnut in furniture making and can assure you it works very nicely. Like all woods, the figured pieces are harder to deal with and take some practice, but you can do this.

Also, you don't need expensive plywood for a mold - I use 2 layers of 3/4" A/C from Blowe's or Home Despot and 2X4 fillers between. You can buy 4'X4', 2'X4', and 2'X2' pieces. I am building my 3rd guitar in the same cheap mold and it looks like it will last forever.


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