Many of you probably have not worked with butternut lumber, but if the opportunity ever comes along, don’t forsake it if you have the chance. Those of you who have used it know what I’m talking about. Butternut — sometimes called white walnut — has never been readily available in my neck of the woods to any great degree. When I do find it, often it’s in private lumber mills.
The wood is softer than its cousin, black walnut, and its hue is much lighter, but the grain pattern is very similar. Its lower specific density is one reason some woodworkers don’t think highly of the species. But butternut is prized by woodcarvers for the ease with which it cuts and its lovely appearance. For both reasons, many carvers desire to procure this elusive hardwood.
I have a couple of projects on my mind that would be enhanced by scoring some thick-cut butternut. I guess it’s time to get busy and beat the bushes to find some.
Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal
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