Spotlight on Butternut5 Min.
No, not butternut squash, though it is the season. We’re talking about the deciduous Butternut tree, Juglans cinerea.
Butternut is a species of Walnut, often called White Walnut or Golden Walnut because of its warm honey blonde tones. When plainsawn, the grain figuring in Butternut is nearly identical to that of Black Walnut, although its “cathedrals” are more likely to be multi-spired. Butternut’s texture is also similar to that of Black Walnut—more coarse than Maple or Cherry, but finer than Ash or Oak.
While Butternut has many applications, from carving to furniture, at Jewett Farms + Co. use it primarily for cabinetry. The wood is lightweight, takes stain well and it has a natural satin-like luster. This golden wood is an option for our drawer construction (read more about JF drawers here), it’s a stable material that has a low shrinkage rate due to its low moisture content, making it perfect for drawer box construction with very little expansion or contraction.
Butternut is a relatively unknown wood, but it’s warm tones and interesting grain pattern make it an interesting and beautiful choice. Lighter than Walnut and deeper than Maple, the “kissing cousin” to Black Walnut seems to fit right in the middle and provides another option for a lovely wood finish.
The species is native to the Eastern US and Southeastern Canada, it’s relatively slow growing and has a short lifespan of 60-75 years. Unfortunately, unlike its Black Walnut cousin, Butternut is susceptible to pests and is being threatened by a fungus known as Canker. Trees are being harvested at the first signs of blight in an effort to stop the spread of this disease.