What is this orange-colored wood? Can't be Walnut!

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Forum topic by JohnMcClure posted 06-18-2017 11:08 PM 5607 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1018 posts in 1417 days

06-18-2017 11:08 PM

An old farmer sold me a log’s worth of wood he’d rough sawn and dried for a couple of years.
He said it was black walnut, and looking at the blackened, weathered outside obviously I had no idea but I sure didn’t doubt him. Then he recalled he’s planed a few boards of this already, they were in the barn – “Let me grab those and throw ‘em in your truck”.

The planed peices were obviously from a different log – they had a crotch at the top – but I assumed same tree.
I carved a spatula out of one of the planed pieces, and it’s definitely walnut – a very deep, dark brown.

Then I started planing the rough boards and… no way it’s the same. It’s orange-ish. The wood is very pretty, but I have no idea what it is! End grain and face pictures are here – can you help me identify it?

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

35 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


21052 posts in 2633 days

#1 posted 06-19-2017 12:00 AM


-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View bondogaposis's profile


5791 posts in 3127 days

#2 posted 06-19-2017 12:09 AM

Looks like cherry to me, the right side of the board has 1/4 sawn figure.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View diverlloyd's profile


3927 posts in 2633 days

#3 posted 06-19-2017 12:45 AM


View HerbC's profile


1804 posts in 3635 days

#4 posted 06-19-2017 12:46 AM

+1 for cherry…

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1675 days

#5 posted 06-19-2017 12:47 AM


- firefighterontheside

I also thought Sycamore ..

View diverlloyd's profile


3927 posts in 2633 days

#6 posted 06-19-2017 01:00 AM

Close up of the end grain would help out. If the farmer cut it down he could have mistaken it for black walnut if it was a butternut tree. The leaves look similar and the butternut looks like a walnut mins the walnut is more on the round side and butternut is more of a oval shape.

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16712 posts in 3395 days

#7 posted 06-19-2017 01:03 AM

Sycamore or butternut. If it’s on the softer side, I’d lean towards butternut. If it works kinda like poplar instead, sycamore would be my guess.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View JohnMcClure's profile


1018 posts in 1417 days

#8 posted 06-19-2017 01:11 AM

Here’s the best I can get of the end grain. Now that I look closely, there is a very distinctive ray pattern. Maybe that will help differentiate between sycamore, butternut, and cherry.

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

View TungOil's profile


1382 posts in 1271 days

#9 posted 06-19-2017 05:21 AM

Looks like the butternut I’ve used in the past. It is sometimes confused with walnut since the color is similar (but to my eye they are very different woods). Is it soft?

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1424 days

#10 posted 06-19-2017 11:24 AM

I’ll agree … looks like butternut I’ve used in the past, as well …

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3252 days

#11 posted 06-19-2017 11:40 AM

It is cherry. Cherry has a small nice quartersawn ray fleck.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2544 days

#12 posted 06-19-2017 02:03 PM



View JohnMcClure's profile


1018 posts in 1417 days

#13 posted 06-19-2017 02:55 PM

Well considering I got a pickup truck full of red oak and a cherry-or-butternut mystery wood for $70, I’m not upset.

I will go with cherry unless shown otherwise, because from what I can Google, cherry has visible rays in the end grain, while butternut’s are barely visible.

Thanks everyone for your help!

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

View diverlloyd's profile


3927 posts in 2633 days

#14 posted 06-19-2017 03:28 PM

Sycamore also has visible rays, sweet cherry,black cherry and sycamore end grains look the same while the sweet gum looks very different from them more of a walnut ( since they are related).

Try wood data base

I just went through the same thing with a load of wood I bought from a guy getting out of wood working. Turns out most of mine is butternut going by the 10x grain pictures. I think it’s a easy mistake for someone to make since the similarities between butternut and black walnut.

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4745 posts in 2765 days

#15 posted 06-19-2017 03:36 PM

My guess is Sycamore.

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