You can find a wide variety of woods for woodworking in the market these days. The choice is abundant as the import of wood has become easy. However, people are increasingly preferring local wood sourced sustainably.
Walnut wood and beechwood are both great options for any woodworking project. Price is the only thing to remember while buying your wood. Everything has pros and cons, but choose the wood that you think works the best for your work, especially if it is durable and has a pleasant appearance.
Different types of wood render themselves for specific purposes. Each one also has a specific aesthetic that makes one type of wood better than the other for certain projects. Then comes durability which plays a role in determining the price of the wood.
Depending on what the intended final product is, one type of wood may be better than the other. Some types of wood tolerate temperature changes better than others. Some are more water-resistant than others.
If you are reading this article, you are most probably not a beginner, and you know what you are looking for. Since this article is specifically about the comparison between walnut and beech, let’s jump right in.
Both walnut and beech make for excellent construction materials like veneers and panels. They also are a good choice for making furniture. Black walnut trees typically grow in central and eastern parts of the United States. Beech, on the other hand, also grows in the eastern part of the United States apart from Canada. Both walnut and beech have comparable durability traits and have similar strengths.
Walnut wood like oak, teak, and maple, belongs to the category of hardwoods. There were new advancements in woodworking during the Middle Ages. This made it easy to work with walnut and turned it into a popular choice for making furniture.
The scientific name of the black walnut tree is Juglans Nigra. These trees grow in fertile, well-drained soils. The best type of soil for black walnut is alkaline loam. Walnut wood is tough, aesthetically appealing, and makes beautiful pieces of furniture.
A walnut tree’s size ranges from 100 feet to 120 feet, while the trunk is 2 feet to 3 feet thick in diameter. It is an excellent option for making furniture because of its aesthetic appeal, durability, ease of maintenance, and workability.
Similar to the black walnut, American beechwood falls in the category of hardwoods. Like its cousin, European beechwood, American beechwood is considered to be an ornamental or shade tree.
The botanical name of the American beechwood is Fagus Grandifolia. The genus name, Fagus, comes from the Celtic god Fagus. Beechwood trees grow in the eastern part of the United States.
The beechwood tree grows between 100 feet to 130 feet long with the trunk growing from 3 feet to 5 feet in diameter. It prefers to grow in soils that contain loam, sand, or clay. Beechwood is a durable type of wood but can be prone to insect infestation.
Walnut vs Beech: Appearance
Walnut wood has darker shades of brown when compared to beechwood. It can range from dark chocolate with dark streaks to pale brown. The sapwood of the walnut tree comes in a pale yellow-gray color close to the color white.
Walnut wood is dense. It has tightly arranged prominent grains. As the wood ages through the years, it takes on a glossy patina. It is known to have a smooth finish after polishing. This makes it ideal for making furniture.
Beechwood, on the other hand, is a light-colored wood. It comes in a pale cream color, sometimes with a pink or brown hue. Similar to walnut trees, the sapwood of a healthy beech tree is white.
Beechwood is solid and is of high density, much more than that of oakwood. It can be coarse and contains pores with prominent rays. The grain of beechwood has a fine texture that is slightly distorted. It is surprisingly stable, in spite of this.
Walnut vs Beech: Durability
Walnut is a good choice for making furniture for its beauty and durability. It is a strong, hard, and heavy wood. It turns into a silver shade of gray when the wood is used for outdoor furniture and is left untreated.
Woodworkers like the natural luster of walnut wood. Because of this, they prefer not to stain it as staining takes away from its natural beauty. It resists decay decently. But it does not handle insect attack well. Walnut wood can last for over half a decade if treated correctly.
Beech is a strong wood. Woodworkers use beechwood for structural projects. However, it is not as durable as walnut. The wood is resistant but starts to show weakness once it is cut. It cannot handle moisture and temperature fluctuations like walnut wood can.
Unlike walnut, beech usually gets stained or painted over. Note that it may need a gel stain. Without this treatment, beech can crack. However, it is hard and sturdy. This makes it ideal to turn it into beautiful interior furniture. Beech is a stable wood.
Walnut vs Beech: Maintenance
Walnut wood doesn’t require much maintenance other than the occasional cleaning with a lint-free cloth. The wood doesn’t do well outdoors. As long as it’s not exposed to direct sunlight, it will last a long time.
Walnut wood and beechwood are prone to insect infestation. An easy way to prevent that is to keep the furniture indoors. Using an insect-resistant polish may keep insects at bay. Sprinkling some salt might do the trick too.
The splitting of wood is a major problem for wood-based furniture. The main cause of it is high temperature and humidity. While walnut wood is durable enough to resist wood splitting, beechwood is not.
Damaged beechwood is easily prone to wood splitting. The damage causes the wood to be unable to sustain heat. To avoid this, store or place the furniture in places that are not dry or moist. Keep an eye out for sunlight as well, as it can damage the wood.
Walnut vs Beech: Workability and Uses
Wood from the walnut tree is very easy to work with. This wood in general is durable, but black walnut is the most durable out of the entire genus. They are perfect for carving, and things like steam bending and using glue, work well with walnut wood.
Hand sanding, steam bending, and using glue are all suitable treatments for walnut wood. For example, not all woods can’t handle glue. Steam bending also isn’t ideal for certain woods. But these are safe to do with the black walnut wood.
Beechwood, like walnut wood, is easy to work with. It is perfect when making curved objects. It is hard and tough making it durable. The wood resists abrasion and can shrink. It is flexible and easy to work with.
Walnut vs Beech: Price
Black walnut is one of the most sought-after hardwoods. And it has good reasons to be so. It is expensive because of its rarity. The decreasing supply of wood has caused it to have high demand. High demand results in high prices.
Beechwood, as compared to walnut, is significantly less expensive. It is used typically when someone is on a budget. Beechwood is cheap because it is easily available. Combining expensive wood with beech increases its value.
Walnut vs Beech: Sustainability
Black walnut is not a sustainable type of wood. The high demand and low supply have made this type of tree endangered. Beechwood on the other hand is a very common wood, making it very sustainable.
Carbon sequestration potential refers to the amount of carbon stored in the wood that can turn into carbon dioxide. Walnut and beechwood have low carbon sequestration potential, which makes them sustainable for the environment.
Walnut vs Beech: Comparison Table
|Botanical name||Juglans nigra||Fagus grandifolia|
|Color||Chocolate to dark brown||Pale cream color|
|Durability||Moderately durable||Mechanically durable but no resistance to rot or insects|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||1,010 lbf.||1,300 lbf.|
|Strength||Strong wood||Strong wood|
|Maintenance||Low maintenance||Less maintenance|
|Price||Medium to high-priced||Moderately priced except for beech plywood|
|Suitability for outdoors||Not suitable for outdoors||Indoor use only|
|Suitability for wood carving||Suitable for carving||Good to make turned objects|
|Workability||Easy to work with||Easy to work with|
|Smell||Faint odor while cutting||Odorless|
|Availability||Easily available||Easily available|
|Special features if any||No special features||Nothing significant|
The article has covered most of the respective woods’ characteristics. Black walnut wood is the most durable in its genus and is in high demand for its color. They are expensive. They are resistant to heat and warping, but not insect resistant.
Compared to other woods beechwood is durable and is more flexible. It handles abrasions well. However, once damaged, it cannot sustain moisture or heat. Beechwood is a common type of wood and is quite stable.
Choose either of these two kinds of wood and you’ve got some great wood for your woodworking projects!