Wood Facts

readily accepts all finishes and stains. On the downside, butternut is relatively soft, low in strength, and it doesn't hold fasteners very securely. It's also not a very good wood for bending.


Although butternut is not used extensively in furniture and cabinetry, it's often the wood of choice when matching existing furniture and fixtures made of European walnut. Because of its low strength, however, I don't recommend it as a material for chairs, stools, beds, or other items that take a beating. You'll mainly find it used for carved or shaped items such as mantels, altars, boxes, or molding. Butternut is for interior use only. Outside, it is susceptible to decay and furniture beetle attack. A

Species and Common Names:

luglans cinere*i Butternut, white walnut, oil nut

Growing Ranc.e:

New Brunswick, Canada south to Georgia, and west to I lardwcxxl lun)lyer dealers, mills, and some large home centers


Vulnerable due to canker blight (see main test) Availability:

Minnesota and Arkansas Specific Gravity: .45 Density: 2li lb. per cu. tt. Wood Movement:


Thicknesses: 4/4 through 12/4. Widths: 6 to 9 in. Lengths: 8 to ¡0 ft.


Tangential (flatsawn): small (less than 3/Jh in. per ft.) . „ , , . , .. ...

Radial (quartersawn): very small (less than V12 in. per ft.) Lumber: $3 75 to$8per Ixl. tt depending on thickness

Veneer: $.75 to SI .50 per sq. tt., depending on quality


Susceptible to decay and insect attack

'Indicate* wood movement across the grain from 6% to 12*>o moisture content.

Butternut by Paul L. McClure

Butternut is a tree that offers a variety of delights in addition to its wood. The sweet, oily nuts it produces have been savored for centuries. And most people don't know it, but tapping a butternut tree will yield a syrup almost identical to maple syrup.

Butternut has been tapped for other valuable products over the years as well: In early America, the Cherokee Indians made a laxative from the bark. Early settlers colored their homespun clothing with yellow dyes made from the bark and husks. And Civil War soldiers made black dye from butternut roots.

A healthy butternut tree grows to a height of 70 ft. and a diameter of 24 in. But the health of butternut trees nationally is in trouble due to "butternut canker," a fungus that kills the trees by attacking the cambium layer. The Endangered Species Act lists butternut as a "sensitive" species. (See "Offcuts," pg. 32.)


Seasoned butternut heart-wood is a light tan that turns light brown when you apply a finish. The color is relatively stable when exposed to air or sunlight. Butternut's rather coarse grain resembles that of walnut. In fact, it is often stained to mimic that cousin. The wood has very little figure and no odor or taste. The creamy white sapwood is generally cut away in use.


Butternut works fairly well with both hand tools and power tools, but cutters and blades need to be extremely sharp. Otherwise, the fuzzy grain may tear out or the wood may burn. For clean cuts when turning butternut, use a shear-cutting, rather than scraping, technique. To prevent router burn, take multiple shallow passes. If you're a carver, you'll love butternut for its friendliness and ability to hold small details.

The lumber dries slowly with minimal checking and is moderately stable once seasoned. It glues exceptionally well, and

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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