Walnut's kissing cousin Most all woodworkers have heard of revered and costly black walnut, even if they might not have worked it. On the other hand, butternut. In fact, butternut has more renown as a nut producer than as a woodworking wood. Ever since the pioneer days, people have gathered its sweet, oily nuts with relish each fall. Early Americans also knew butternut as a dye. "Butternut jeans," homespun overalls dyed brown in the juice of butternut husks, were a common sight. And, like the hard maple, the tree was even tapped for its sweet sap, which was processed into syrup. Historically, though, carvers have always made the most use of butternut as a highly desirable wood. Its straight grain and softness translate into easy carving. For that reason, many intricately carved church altars turn out to be butternut.
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