A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
James Frieson
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by James Frieson » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:09 am

Spanish Walnut : Probably refers to Walnut from Mexico , Central and South America .
It is commonly called Nogal , which is the Spanish word for walnut
Latin : Juglans Neotropica

It is fairly light onweight , I remember it as lighter than the n American black walnut but I could be wrong , the texture is a bit more coarse than American or European walnut .
It is also darker in color . It tends to be less figured on average .
A lovely wood .

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tateharmann
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by tateharmann » Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:52 pm

Awesome thanks for the info James!
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lucho
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by lucho » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:27 pm

Does anyone know anything about Japanese walnut? Anyone ever worked with it?

ernandez R
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by ernandez R » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:20 pm

Slightly OT but I was gifted a nice pice of dark black walnut just a couple days ago
and was thinking about using it for a bridge and matching headstock vanier.

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Matthew Masail
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Matthew Masail » Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:38 pm

I just glued up a 3 piece QS walnut back. I can't say anything about sound yet but I think it looks great and I suspect it's a very good tonewood. just wish I could have avoided that pin hole.

A main question/concern though is that walnut fades to a greenish color under some varnishes, and tends to loose some of it's beautiful rich color. So far the furniture I have finished with shellac seem to be holding up well, but we'll have to see 15 years down the road.
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simonm
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by simonm » Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:55 pm

That will look great. Just regard the pin hole as a "feature". I assume it is more visible on the side you are not showing?


Edit ... oops something went wrong with my original post - I have fixed it. My point was just leave the pin hole alone. Wood is a natural material, some "features" are to be expected.

Matthew Masail
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Matthew Masail » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:23 pm

Thanks for the comment. Indeed the side I pictured is the better side. It's my first guitar so I'm not too worried, but I'm considering filling the black part with a matching light colored walnut piece from a offcut, if I do it right it should blend in well as the black is what stands out, however if I do it wrong I trash my work... I wonder if the pore filling with pomice would help ?

Alan Carruth
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Alan Carruth » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:11 pm

I would not bother to fill that little mark. From what I can see, it looks like a shot mark. A lot of the walnut we get in the US comes from Pennsylvania, where they have in the past, and maybe still, hunt deer with shotguns. A friend on mine told me that he used to load one barrel with a slug for deer, and the other with shot for geese. When the shot goes into a tree in makes a track through the sapwood to where the lead stops. The lead itself dissolves rather quickly in the acid sap, but you're left with the track of the shot, and some discoloration of the wood. When there's a lot of shot damage the wood can have a 'characteristic' figure, something between quilt and an irregular curl. It will also tend to be denser and harder than normal. I suspect that both are due to the lead. BTW, I only ever actually ran into one piece of metallic lead in walnut. I had just sharpened my power joiner, and run the first piece through. When I turned it over, there was the shiny metal. After a short exasperated discourse I shut the machine down. The cutters were fine.

It would be very tricky to patch that mark in with a piece of wood to match. The grain is pretty straight, and there does not seem to be much run out, so that makes it easier, but it's still not trivial. Wood is a natural material, and things like that are just part of the history of the tree.

Matthew Masail
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Matthew Masail » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:54 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:11 pm
I would not bother to fill that little mark. From what I can see, it looks like a shot mark. A lot of the walnut we get in the US comes from Pennsylvania, where they have in the past, and maybe still, hunt deer with shotguns. A friend on mine told me that he used to load one barrel with a slug for deer, and the other with shot for geese. When the shot goes into a tree in makes a track through the sapwood to where the lead stops. The lead itself dissolves rather quickly in the acid sap, but you're left with the track of the shot, and some discoloration of the wood. When there's a lot of shot damage the wood can have a 'characteristic' figure, something between quilt and an irregular curl. It will also tend to be denser and harder than normal. I suspect that both are due to the lead. BTW, I only ever actually ran into one piece of metallic lead in walnut. I had just sharpened my power joiner, and run the first piece through. When I turned it over, there was the shiny metal. After a short exasperated discourse I shut the machine down. The cutters were fine.

It would be very tricky to patch that mark in with a piece of wood to match. The grain is pretty straight, and there does not seem to be much run out, so that makes it easier, but it's still not trivial. Wood is a natural material, and things like that are just part of the history of the tree.
Thank you for that very interesting explenation ! What I'm most curious is how can you tell from a picture that there is very little run-out ? You are right of course it is well quatered and straight. Does your observation have anything to do with light reflection ?

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geoff-bristol
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by geoff-bristol » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:08 pm

I made 4 or 5 of my first guitars from black walnut ( converted from a plank ). Relatively easy to work but can tear a bit on any curl - but thats normal to any wood. Bends well - but as mentioned - can 'corrugate' on the sides when bending. My sides were not perfectly quartered - so that didn't help. I just lived with it - actually they look ok. I found on mine - leaving the sides ate 2mm min - and bending quite dry - they behaved better. It may well vary - I had no history to the wood stock I had, but it was stable and dry to work and store.
Its certainly cheap - conveting my own bask sides I took five sets out of a £40 plank !

The first guiatrs were not over polished - just enough to give a working smooth finish that looked polished - but not so much as one is noticing every tiny miniscule mark !

Its way more relaxing to play and handle a guitar thats not like a billiard ball - and one is scared to even touch !

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lucho
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by lucho » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:03 pm

How troublesome is walnut back/sides when non-quartered?

I've read that walnut is pretty easy to work with and it's relatively stable in terms of tang/radial movement. But all the nice figured pieces I see are on flat or off-quarter pieces, while most of the quartered pieces are pretty bland looking. In the age-old builder dilemma of stability vs looks, where do you walnut weathered luthier veterans fall?

Matthew Masail
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Matthew Masail » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:34 pm

simonm wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:55 pm
That will look great. Just regard the pin hole as a "feature". I assume it is more visible on the side you are not showing?


Edit ... oops something went wrong with my original post - I have fixed it. My point was just leave the pin hole alone. Wood is a natural material, some "features" are to be expected.
Yeah I thought something. I think your recommendation as well as Alan's is correct. I will post progress as I move along.
Last edited by Matthew Masail on Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

printer2
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by printer2 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:18 am

lucho wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:03 pm
How troublesome is walnut back/sides when non-quartered?

I've read that walnut is pretty easy to work with and it's relatively stable in terms of tang/radial movement. But all the nice figured pieces I see are on flat or off-quarter pieces, while most of the quartered pieces are pretty bland looking. In the age-old builder dilemma of stability vs looks, where do you walnut weathered luthier veterans fall?
The wood used to make the walnut body on the previous page was flat sawn wood, basically my practice pieces for learning how to resaw. I do like the look of quartered wood better, but the flat sawn wood gave me little trouble for sides. The wood did tend to cup a little but not enough to bother the function of the sides.
Fred

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geoff-bristol
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by geoff-bristol » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:11 am

The problem Ithink is more where the wood on the sides is quartered to one edge - but flatsawn near the other ? What you need is uniformity across the width - so it all bends the same.
A problem with flatsawn sides is that the natural split is at 90 deg to the quarter - which leave them suspect to cracks. Birdseye is generally flatswan. Its asking a lot for a 100mm wide 2mm thick wood slab to bend perfectly flat. My birdseye cupped on the sides a bit - but not in the same way as the walnut. It sort of generally rippled ( like a smooth sea ) - where the walnut dipped following the grain like corrugated sheet.
Walnut also has pretty severe pores - and would need hefty filling ot get super smooth.

Quartered wood is more accurate to re-saw than rift or slab on a bandsaw.

Matthew Masail
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Re: A few questions on walnut as a tonewood

Post by Matthew Masail » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:16 am

I've been resawing a bunch of wood for guitars and I agree good quarter does make resawing easier. I
prefer the look of QS most of the time but wouldnt mind some variance or even flat sawn on the back. for the sides at only 10cm wide it is quite easy to find a quatered edge of a board and end up with good sides.

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