Cherry wood is a prized wood variety to woodcrafters and consumers alike. According to American furniture makers Vermont Wood Studios, cherry wood is their most popular and requested wood varieties for their many types of furniture.
With its tight and regular grain and beautiful color, it is easy to understand why.
What is Cherry Tree Wood?
Cherry wood is the wood that comes from cherry fruit trees. Species of cherry trees are found in Europe, Asia, and in the United States. The most popular species for woodcraft is Black Cherry wood.
This species tree was in North America when European settlers came to its shores. They called the cherry wood “New England Mahogany” because the light brownish-pink would become darker red-brown in the sunlight. It was almost indistinguishable from actual mahogany.
Black cherry grows in many areas of the United States from the north midwest down to Texas and all along the east coast from Nova Scotia down to northern Florida. The main concentrations of Black cherry trees are in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Quick Details of Cherry Wood
|Color||Ranges golden brownish-pink to deep red brown with exposure to sunlight|
|Appearance||Uniform and smooth texture with a medium natural luster, fine pore structure|
|Grain||Straight grain sometimes with ripple feature|
|Rot Resistance||Moderate, the heartwood is very rot-resistant|
|Workability||Easy to work with due to the straight grained texture, easy to burn with power saws, smooth finishing but more difficult to stain|
|Allergies/Toxicity||Some allergic reactions noted like wheezing and giddiness when exposed to sawdust|
|Pricing||More expensive than some common hardwoods|
|Availability||Lumber and veneer have adequate supply|
Characteristics of Cherry Wood
The qualities of cherry wood are the reason why it is such a popular variety for furniture and cabinetry.
Cherry wood is a closed porous hardwood, so it has medium strength and durability. Because it is among the softer hardwoods, woodcrafter love it because it is easy to cut and work with both hand and power tools. It is less hard than other hardwoods like hickory and oak, but harder than coniferous softwoods like pine.
The cherry wood color is one of the most unique qualities of wood. It ranges in color from light brown-pink to reddish brown. The lighter-colored wood is closer to the tree’s bark (sapwood). The darker wood is closer to the middle of the tree (heartwood).
Cherry wood patinas over time with exposure to light. All areas of the wood that are exposed to light will darken. This will continue even after the wood has been finished. Therefore, it is best to allow a wood product or furniture to be exposed to light in an even manner. Darkening will slow down after a few years of light exposure.
Cherry wood has a fine and tight grain and a fine pore structure. The tight and even grain is attractive for woodcrafters because this makes the wood easy to cut. The uniform look is valuable for furniture and decorative objects. Cherry wood has a moderate luster that creates a smooth look when finished. Cherry wood stain is not necessary as cherry wood color is attractive without stain.
Sustainability of Cherry Wood
Black cherry, the variety that is harvested for wood products, is a fast-growing hardwood. There is some illegal harvesting of this much-loved wood.
If you are a buyer in the United States, it is possible to buy a product created from a local source as cherry wood is available in so many areas of the United States. This will reduce the product’s overall carbon footprint.
Cherry Wood Pros and Cons
- Durable – Cherry wood is durable and strong. It is resistant against scratches and dents.
- Sustainable – Cherry is a fast-growing wood. You can find sustainable sources if you look for reputable certifications.
- Beauty – Cherry wood is known for its gorgeous color and fine-grained texture.
- Easy to Form – Cherry wood is softer than some other hardwoods. This makes it easy to shape with hand and power tools.
- Cost – Cherry wood is more expensive than other hardwoods like maple. The cost ranges from around $3-$8 per board foot.
- Blotchy Stain – It is difficult for beginners to stain cherry wood as it does not accept stain in a uniform manner.
- Changing Color – Cherry wood changes color over time. This is a bonus for some people but it can be problematic because it is not uniform.
Uses of Cherry Wood
Cherry is a versatile wood variety. It is beautiful and soft enough to use in applications like instruments, millwork, boat interiors, furniture, floors, and doors.
Antique Cherry Wood Furniture
Antique cherry wood furniture has a deep and rich color tone. This is due to the deepening color over time. This cherry wood table comes from Italy and was built in the mid-1800s. It has plank wood top construction with turned legs.
Cherry Wood Harp
Cherry is a tonewood. This means that it is dense enough to make it a good projector for musical tones. Cherry is balanced and has a neutral tone. It projects low, mid, and high-frequency sound. Cherry is used for this harp from Thormahlen Harps. It is called the Cherry Swan.
Cherry Wood Cabinets
The cherry wood kitchen cabinets are one of the most popular applications for cherry wood. In this kitchen, FabCab uses cherry wood to create these flat-panel cherry cabinets. Using this design and wood combination, they have created a modern and sleek yet rustic style kitchen for this cabin kitchen.
Cherry Wood Flooring
Wood floors are another popular application for cherry wood. You can get a similar color floor with cherry wood colored stain and a different wood, but it will not have the same luster. Cherry wood floors have a medium luster that shines up well when buffed and finished. Cherry floors look spectacular in the wide-plank style.
Cherry Wood Dresser
Modern wood craftsmen love to use cherry because of its easy-to-use texture. Most cherry wood furniture is not stained because it has a lovely natural color. This cherry wood dresser from Vermont Wood Studios features a sleek modern design. It has dark-colored accents made from black walnut.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
What is the natural cherry wood color?
The natural color of cherry wood ranges depending on where it comes from inside the tree. The sapwood, the wood that is closest to the bark of the tree, has a golden to pinkish brown hue. The darker heartwood looks more amber. Cherry also has “pitch marks” which are dark brown to black marks that appear as small dark lines. Both the heartwood and the sapwood will darken over time with exposure to the sunlight.
How many varieties of cherry tree wood are there?
There are over 400 varieties of cherry trees within the genus Prunus all over the world, but not all of them are used to produce commercial wood. The most common cherry wood used for commercial products is the American Black Cherry also known as the American Cherry. Brazilian Black Cherry is a popular wood for butcher block countertops.
What is the average cherry wood price?
Depending on the thickness and quality of the wood, you can find cherry wood from $5-$13 per board foot.
Does cherry wood look the same as mahogany?
Antique and aged cherry wood will often have the same deep reddish color as mahogany. In the colonial era, they also called cherry wood “New England Mahogany” and used it side by side with true mahogany.
Cherry wood is a rich colored and beautiful textured wood. It is understandable that this wood variety is popular with woodcrafters and consumers.
Cherry wood also ages well with a deepening color that resembles mahogany. Added to all this, it is an American hardwood that is grown and harvested in a sustainable way.
The most difficult aspect of this wood is that it can be hard for beginners to finish with stain. But the color is so beautiful on its own, that the color can stand on its own.