Walnut is a beautiful dark wood that I use often. In medieval times, it was used frequently for everything from the backing for intarsia to furniture. Now it is more expensive and not used for things that do not show.
Walnut is a hardwood. The walnut in the United States is referred to as Black Walnut (Juglans nigra). European Walnut (Juglans regia) is a different species but has similar properties. Walnut has a hardness of 4 on a scale of 1 to 5. It works easily and hold its’ shape well. The stability of walnut means it is often used for things where movement would be a problem, such as gun stocks.
The sapwood of walnut can be almost white while the heartwood ranges from light to dark brown. This Buffalo is a good example. You can see some of the light sapwood on the upper right horn of the skull and then gradually darker color as you move down and left, with the darkest on the front hooves of the buffalo. Were I working on a piece of furniture, I would try hard to use only the heartwood and avoid the sapwood. With fretwork, however, it is not as critical. In fact, it can add interest to the piece.
Walnut takes finish well and is usually finished with a natural stain or an oil that protects it but does not obscure the beautiful color and grain of the wood. This wood is grown sustainably and can be used without worrying about destroying rain forests or ecosystems. It grows in the central part of the United States in plantations so is plentiful and not too terribly expensive. What can I create for you in this beautiful wood?