Featured Supplier: Hawkeye Forest Products
Premium American Black Walnut
Walnut is HOT these days, and we’re not talking about temperature. The enduring appeal of Walnut is due to its characteristic color and grain and endless variation in every board, which finishes beautifully and is extremely durable. The demand for American Black Walnut continues to soar.
But, like all things, not all Walnut is the same. Valencia Lumber and Panel proudly partners with Hawkeye Forest Products of Trempeleau, Wisconsin to bring you some of the finest American Black Walnut being produced in North America today. As a Hawkeye partner since 2008, we are one of a select few distributors able to offer walnut that is sourced and produced to Hawkeye’s very exacting standards.
So, what’s the difference?
A “boutique” approach to lumber production, focused on quality rather than price, a personality disorder common to both Valencia Lumber and to Hawkeye. That’s the difference. John Hawkinson started Hawkeye in the 70’s, buying the production of small hardwood growers in northern latitudes and then milling and handling the walnut in small batches. Being small forces you to do what it takes to compete with the big boys, and “Hawkeye” became renowned for first-quality material.
The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) sets the rules for grading lumber. But not all FAS (“Firsts and Seconds”) is created equal. Like beef or wine, different producers approach their craft ion their own way. All “Cabernet Sauvignon” is required to follow the rules, but Opus One is $250 a bottle and Two-Buck Chuck is, well $2.00.
START WITH THE BEST LOGS
So, Hawkeye first selects carefully: northern latitudes are slower growth, heartier stock, tighter growth rings, finer grain patterns.
DO IT RIGHT
Take more time and greater care in the sawmill. Be more selective in grading the green lumber (always think quality-first).
INVEST IN GOOD PEOPLE AND GOOD EQUIPMENT
Invest in the best walnut steamers and drying kilns. Hire people who know that little things matter: the thickness of the stickers between boards, spacing those stIckers closer than usual produces flatter boards, slow-and-steady heating and cooling, carefully controlled humidity. It’s as much art as it is science.
Just accept the fact that you might have to wait longer to get the results you want. After drying, apply the same rigid standard for lumber grading, and store it in an environmentally-controlled warehouse before shipping. That’s how you make better hardwood lumber.
Sure, you can reduce production times, a lot of mills speed things along, and they produce walnut that’s really really good. We sell lots of it.