Dark brown heartwood and lighter, often with dark streaks sapwood. The grain is frequently curly with mottled and burled figures. The wood first appears to be fairly dull and somewhat oily; with time, however, it develops a rich, lustrous patina that accounts for its aristocratic elegance. It works better in spacious, visually balanced areas, or as a way of inducing a sense of equilibrium to a rather light-colored décor. Most often is employed for small sections, to add character.
The wood is hard (1300 on Janka scale), heavy and shows exceptional dimensional stability. Being a stiff wood, however, it tends to be a bit brittle. It is very durable, even under circumstances that would generally lead to decay. Due to its high content of aromatic compounds, it might impart taste to the foods it comes in a prolonged contact with. Therefore, in spite of its resistance to scratches and cut marks, it is not a good choice for cutting boards and butcher blocks.
It works equally well with machines or hand tools. Molds and shapes very well, and its rather short fiber allow some of the most elaborate edge profiles. Sands and polishes to a high luster but it stains rather poorly.
The European walnut (the edible walnut tree, Juglans regia) is a loner by nature. Unlike its American cousin (the black walnut, Juglans nigra) that grows well in forest stands, the European walnut does not suffer other trees in its immediate vicinity, and this is why it is never found in the forest. It grows instead in meadows and glades, where the closest tree is at least 40 feet away. Consequently, while the American walnut competes with other trees for sunlight and, therefore, grows a long, straight stem, the edible walnut, lacking such competition grows a short stem and low, thick branches. This growth configuration is viewed both as an asset (since it generates the curvy, twisted, unusual patterns of the grain that are highly priced for their visual effects) and a defect (since it becomes impossible to obtain walnut lumber with lengths exceeding 4’).