About the Main Types of Cherry Wood Used for Flooring, Cabinets and Furniture

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Cherry wood is one of the most popular types of wood for flooring, cabinets and furniture. Discover the main types and read all about each type and how they differ from one another.

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Cherry wood close up

Cherry wood is a popular hardwood choice for residential furniture, especially in central rooms like dining rooms and bedrooms. The High Point Market found that it is one of the most popular domestic woods due to its dramatic grains and warm red tones. American cherry wood also comes in a diverse range of colors and people love it as it turns redder with age. The hardwood is also easy to mold and mainly grows in the Eastern regions of the country. The cherry wood is categorized as a hardwood because it is a part of the dicot tree family.

The cherry has a lot of uses, which makes it a popular wood. The timber from the cherry tree is also highly sought-after since it can be used to make furniture, toys, musical instruments, and much more. The wood from the cherry tree is also used to smoke foods such as meats since it creates a pleasant and distinct flavor for the meat. The bark of the cherry tree is also used as a substitute for chewing gum in many regions. It is even used for aromatic purposes since it has a sweet, soft scent.

Background

Cherry wood has been a popular wood type for furniture since the 400 BC. It was used by the Greeks and Romans for everyday domestic furniture. Cherry wood was known as New England Mahogany in the Early Colonial era since it has a darkening color. It was used in this era for furniture and cabinets since it is durable and heavy.

The cherry wood was also very important for the Native American community. They would take the inner bark and boil it to make a concoction to treat illnesses like bronchitis, colds, headaches, common cough, and chest pains. Nowadays, a cherry extract is used in many commercial cough syrups based on these ancient practices and modern scientific research.

In modern times, the cherry tree is usually known for its timber. It is the most popular wood for American furniture manufacturers and is part of most residential buildings. The cherry tree is grown in many regions of the country, especially for its wood. States that produce the tallest and most dense trees in the US are New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. It takes relatively less time to mature than other hardwoods, which is why it is the easiest wood to cultivate.

2 Main Types of Cherry Wood

Cherry wood is a hardwood that comes from the cherry fruit tree. It is known for the beautiful range of colors that it comes in including dark brown, red, white, and yellow. It is a very durable wood and has a satiny, smooth grain which makes this popular. The lighter colors of the wood are used for furniture while darker wood tones can add elegance to the room in a perfect way.

It comes in two main varieties: black and sweet cherry.

1. Black Cherry WoodObject made from cherry wood

Alternative names

Black Cherry is also popularly known as American Cherry. It’s aslo referred to as rum cherry, wild cherry choke cherry, and whiskey cherry at different points in time due to how it was popularly used. The scientific name for the black cherry wood is ‘Prunus serotina’. It is mainly manufactured in Eastern North America, an area which produces the largest amount of wood in the whole country.

About

Tree sizes can range between 50-100 ft and have a trunk diameter of 3-5 ft. They can also live up to 150 to 200 years and create really durable wood. Their Janka Hardiness is one of the best in the market with 950 lb. This means that they can withstand wear and dents really well. However, it is low enough that you will not have trouble sanding, screwing, nailing, or sawing the wood as per your needs.

Attributes

Color: It has heartwood of a light pinkish brown color when it has been recently cut. With time and exposure to light, the wood darkens to medium reddish brown. The sapwood of the cherry tree has a pale yellowish color.

Furniture: Furniture makers and manufacturers love it because the wood grain is smooth, straight and easy to work. There are also some figured pieces that have a curly grain pattern, which is harder to work with. The cherry wood has a semi-porous to diffuse-porous end grain. There is no specific arrangement between the small to medium pores and the wood has 2-3 radial and solitary multiples.

Deposits: There is also an occasional presence of gum/mineral deposit in the wood. This is not easily visible with the lens and is actually good for the owners. The mineral deposits are often desirable since they give the furniture a unique grain.

Resistant to decay: Black cherry wood has become really popular since it is resistant to decay and is very durable, especially the heart wood. This makes it really great for furniture and domestic use since no one wants to invest in wood that will attain a lot of wear and tear.

Very workable: Cherry wood is also one of the best woods for workability, which is why manufacturers also prefer investing in this wood. It machines really well and the grain is straight and stable. Staining the wood is the only hard part since it can produce blotchy results. Experts recommend using a gel-based stain or a sanding sealer before attempting to stain the wood. Using sapwood is common among manufacturers but it causes a lot of waste which is why heartwood is preferred.

Odor: as a really distinctive, but mild, smell while it is being worked. However, breathing in the sawdust from the cherry can result in health concerns. It causes respiratory effects like wheezing and coughing, which is why it is recommended to have proper protective gear while working with the wood.

Pricing: Since cherry wood is produced via domestic lumber, the prices of the wood are similar to those of walnut. They are cheaper compared to others but are slightly more expensive than maple or oak woods. Since the wood species is really vast, it is an easily sourced wood. It isn’t listed on CITES Appendices or IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which is why the price is cheaper compared to a lot of other species.

In general, you can expect to pay around $7.25 per board foot for 1″ and $8.75 per board foot for 2″.

2. Sweet Cherry Woodsweet cherry wood table

About:  This type of wood is also known as European Cherry wood. The scientific name for the wood type is ‘Prunus avium’ and it is mainly found in the regions of Europe and Asia.  The tree can reach heights of 32-65 ft and has a trunk diameter that can range for 1-2 ft. This is smaller than the black cherry trees which are found in America. Despite the size, it has superior Janka Hardness which means that it is one of the most durable types of wood in the market. It can withstand a huge amount of wear and tear but isn’t easy to saw, sand, or nail.

Sweet cherry wood has heartwood of a light pink-brown when it is freshly cut. The color deepens with time to a golden brown when it is exposed to light. The sapwood of the sweet cherry is usually 1-2″ wide and is a pale yellow color.

Sweet cherry wood

Texture: The texture of the sweet cherry wood is fine to medium with a close grain. The grain is usually slightly wavy or completely straight. The end grain of the wood is semi-ring porous and the small pores have no precise arrangement. It has a 2-3 radial as well as solitary multiple, and has distinct growth rings since the early wood pore concentration is high.

Deposits: It sometimes has deposits of minerals and gum which are preferred by a lot of people since they contribute to the uniqueness of the wood. The unique design is important if you want to sell the wood at a higher price.

Sustainability: It’s sustainable since it is not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species or CITES Appendices. Despite this, it isn’t available everywhere to produce. The sweet cherry wood has a high price since it is only available in Europe and a few other specialized orchards. It is also sold only as a veneer or in small sizes, which means that it is an expensive material to obtain. In the region where it grows naturally, the prices are moderate.

Durability: The heartwood of the sweet cherry wood is moderately durable to non-durable when it comes to decay resistance. It is adversely impacted when it comes to insect attacks as well. This is why black cherry wood is more popular amongst furniture manufacturers.

Workable: Manufacturers do use sweet cherry in their work often though. It is easy to work with hand tools and machines, which is why so many use it. However, difficulties often arise when manufacturers attempt to stain the wood. It can produce blotchy results when stained since it has a closed, fine grain. Before staining, it is recommended to use gel stains and sanding sealers. Many manufacturers also use finishes, glues, and turns while staining the wood to prevent it from blotchy.

Odor: Unlike the black cherry wood, it has no odor even while the wood is being worked. The black cherry wood can also cause health concerns like respiratory problems but the sweet cherry has no such negative effect.

Sweet cherry wood is an Old World counterpart for black cherry, which is commonly found in North America. In contrast to the black cherry, the sweet cherry has more color contrasts. It is stronger and denser as well when compared to the other wood type. It doesn’t produce larger sizes for lumber though since the tree doesn’t grow to a large size.

 

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