Butternut – it Carves like Butter with a Hot Knife

The latest addition to my catalog of air-dried slabs for sale is butternut (Juglans cinerea). A relative to the highly sought-after black walnut, butternut shares the same grain patterns but the colour is lighter – similar to the shades of bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum).

Butternut is also lighter in weight and softer than black walnut, making it an ideal wood for working with hand tools and is popular for carvings. Other common uses include furniture and boxes. It is an ideal material to use for a sculpted/carved panel, contrasting with a comparatively simple frame. It is also ideal for chair seats for the same reasons pine is the traditional seat material in a windsor chair.

It works well with both hand and power tools and glues and finishes well. Butternut is a great wood to work with – especially for beginners.

The seat of my workshop stool is made of butternut. The legs are bigleaf maple.

Butternut Stool Seat

I made the structural members and panel of this headboard out of butternut, and finished it with orange shellac.

Construction of the Butternut Headboard

See my catalog of air-dried wood slabs for sale here.

3 thoughts on “Butternut – it Carves like Butter with a Hot Knife

  1. In Ontario, Butternut is an endangered species (due to disease). I’ve seen the lumber on Kijiji but worry that buying it is encouraging people to chop down the surviving trees.

    1. Hi Paul,

      That’s very interesting. I’ve never heard of it being endangered here in BC, but then again it isn’t talked about much because it isn’t very available. For the record, none of the lumber I have is from trees that were taken down for lumber. Some trees were taken down for development and others came down in storms.


  2. The gov’t Natural Resources page say it started in the early 90s in Ontario and Quebec, so I guess it’ll eventually make it out your way. I hope the fungus doesn’t start into the walnut trees as well. I had to spend $6000 to have a giant elm taken out of my back yard a couple years ago and the ash trees around here are all dying as well. Bugs & fungi – what are you going to do?

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