The Magic of Walnut Hardwood

The Magic of Walnut Hardwood

Has Wonderful Walnut Hardwood Cast its Spell over YOU?

First, some background. Eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra) is native to eastern North America (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juglans_nigra#/media/File:Juglans_nigra_range_map_1.png) and commercially important. It’s treasured for its rich and distinguished appearance; in particular, its distinctive brown coloration and its tight, straight grain pattern. Plus, despite its heft and durability, walnut wood can be easily worked, so it’s perfect for woodworkers to craft into fine furniture, cabinetry, flooring, ceiling paneling and countertops, for example.

Walnut is the second most popular North American hardwood

In terms of demand, Walnut trails only Maple – America’s favorite hardwood, due to its hardness and neutral colors, which make it complementary to almost any kitchen décor. Interestingly, the gap in demand between maple and walnut has been narrowing for years, despite the steadily-expanding price gap between America’s two most favorite hardwoods.

It’s almost as though Black Walnut hardwood has some mysterious power over humans, causing us to want it more even as we collectively drive its price higher.

Rising overseas demand for U.S. hardwood is also driving the cost of walnut higher.

Asian markets require a sustainable source of temperate hardwood

Temperate hardwood includes such species as ash, cherry, maple, oak and walnut. Thanks to careful stewardship of its forests – the U.S. grows more new hardwood each year than it harvests – the U.S. is able to supply rising worldwide demand. For perspective, it’s estimated that 60% of all hardwood lumber produced in the U.S. is exported, and that half of exports wind up in China.

Between 1992 and 2017, hardwood lumber exports to China ballooned from $8 million to $1.5 billion, according to the American Hardwood Export Council. China is the world’s largest producer of furniture, and 20 percent of the furniture that the Chinese manufacture is exported. Prior to 2008, China exported 80 percent of the furniture it made. The drop over time – from 80% to 20% – reflects China’s rising domestic demand and is yet more evidence of the country’s socioeconomic gains over the past decade.

Black Walnut’s Value

Black Walnut hardwood trees are typically worth $1000 and more. A pristine log, 26 inches in diameter and 16 feet long, can fetch up to $3,000, according to an article on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website. Due to their rising valuations, Walnut trees are increasingly the target of tree thieves. Reports of walnut tree theft by unscrupulous loggers looking to make a quick profit are becoming a regular occurrence across the region where the species is common. Using a litany of excuses and suggesting myriad alleged misunderstandings, more and more frequently tree thieves are cutting down valuable walnut trees growing on private property without the prior permission of landowners. And of course, once a tree has been cut down, there’s no going back. Fortunately, states are recognizing the threat and enacting stiff penalties for such crimes.

What is your Walnut Tree Worth?

If you happen to have walnut trees on your property that you are considering selling, here are a few points to keep in mind.

Black Walnut hardwood is typically classified into two grades of quality – lumber-grade (more common) or veneer-grade (rarer). Veneer-grade wood is wood that can be sawn into thin slices, usually 1/8-inch thick and thinner, that are then glued onto other surfaces to impart a fine quality look and finish. To determine the grade of your tree, measure three things:

  • its diameter at 4-1/2 feet above the ground;
  • the height of its trunk up to its lowest limb; and
  • the number of major defects in the trunk.

In order to qualify as Grade A veneer, your tree will need to be at least 19 inches in diameter (60 inches in circumference). A black walnut tree that is Grade A-veneer at 19 inches diameter might sell for $700–$800. If you’re the patient type, you might consider waiting until the tree grows another 6 inches in diameter, when it might fetch twice as much.

More blogs on Walnut Hardwood:

Fast-Rising Demand Is Driving Black Walnut Lumber Prices to Record Highs

Walnut Butcher Block Tops

Walnut Butcher Block – Bring the Trend Home

Live Edge Table Project Featuring Wood Slabs from Created Hardwood Ltd.

Ever Wonder Why Basketball Is Played On Maple Hardwood?

Ever Wonder Why Basketball Is Played On Maple Hardwood?

Everyone Knows March Madness Is Played on Hardwood. Ever Wonder Which Hardwood?

In 1891 parents in Springfield, Massachusetts challenged Dr. James Naismith to invent an indoor game that would condition and tire out kids during the long, cold New England winters. Famously, he nailed two peach baskets to the railing of the balcony in the YMCA gymnasium and changed history. The gym’s wooden floor was made of hard maple (acer saccharum).

More than a century later, rock maple remains the hardwood used by local Ys, the NCAA and all but one NBA team.(1)

 

So Why Rock Maple?

Maple flooring gained popularity in late-nineteenth-century America. Among other things, it was relatively abundant and hence, affordable. Plus, maple was known to be strong, durable and stable. Less likely to expand and contract in response to changes in temperature and humidity, maple is largely resistant to splintering. Measured on the Janka scale(2), rock maple is North America’s most resilient hardwood.

Moreover, maple’s exceptionally tight grain(3) prevents dirt and dust particles from seeping in between the wood’s fibers, making it an easy wood to clean and maintain. Finally, maple can be easily restored to look new again. These are all traits equally important for sports courts.

The ideal playing surface must be solid and consistent throughout to ensure that a basketball will bounce exactly the same (i.e., without recoil or dampening) when dribbled anywhere on the court, since even small differences can impact the game. But the ideal surface must also provide some degree of shock resistance or bounce-back, in order to minimize players’ fatigue and damage to their joints. Also, maple’s coloration is perfect for basketball, given the contrast between the game’s orange ball and the floor’s light to medium tans and browns. This helps make it easy for players to spot the ball on the court. The lightness of maple also aids in brightening arenas via the reflection of light off the floor.

 A Professional-Grade Basketball Court Will Set You Back $80 to $100k

The actual playing area of courts used by the NCAA and NBA measures 94 feet by 50 feet, but most incorporate a large perimeter, bringing overall floor dimensions to about 140 feet by 70 feet. The hard rock maple planks used are typically slightly thicker than ¾ of an inch, so it takes 80 to 100 trees to construct a single hardwood court. By the way, the NBA requires teams to replace their floor every 10 years.

The Big Dance Floor Will Be Offered to the Winner

Connor Sports (Elk Grove Village, IL) made the basketball courts used for 13 different NCAA conference championships. The modules that comprise these portable courts are shipped to regional tournament sites where they are assembled and eventually disassembled after play. Connor has also supplied the floors used in the Men’s and Women’s Final Four since 2005. These floors are also modular, but one-off custom designs that are offered for purchase to the winning schools who often display portions of the floor or cut the modules into smaller segments that can be sold to alumni or collectors via fundraisers.

The manufacturing process is remarkable; it even involves riding sander machines! Click the image below to watch this video on Youtube.

Here’s another time-lapse video showing workers installing the 2015 Final Four court – made of Northern rock maple harvested from Wisconsin – at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Smartest Bet This March Madness Is on the Floor, Not the Brackets

It’s estimated that $10.4 billion will be wagered on 70 million brackets this time around (only 3% of those bets will be legal). Be smart and bet safe: for certain, all games will be played on North American rock maple!

(1) The famed Boston Garden features red oak in a distinctive parquet design, instead of maple.

(2) The Janka Hardness Scale measures the amount of pressure required to mar a wood sample.

(3) “Grain” typically means the physical structure and appearance of a wood surface and traces to the orientation of the wood’s cellulose fibers – the remnants of once-living longitudinal cells.