A longtime favorite for hobbyists, most skilled woodworkers recognize the timeless quality and appearance of cherry wood lumber. When you add in the fact that cherry is a domestic wood that’s moderately durable as well as moderately priced, the reasons for this wood’s popularity is no mystery.
Origin of Cherry Wood Lumber
The same cherry trees that bear early fruit and which are used in decorative landscaping are not the cherry trees from which cherry wood lumber is milled. The black cherry tree, a member of the Prunus Serotina family, holds many distinctive. While the black cherry tree does bear fruit, that fruit is late to mature and has a purple hue. The bitter taste makes it ideal for jellies and beverages. Unlike other cherry trees, its bark is dark with easily removable scales, and the heartwood is a reddish brown, ranging from dark to light. When exposed to sunlight, the color is similar to that of mahogany. Black cherry trees are indigenous to east-central North America as well as southeastern Canada.
American black cherry is widely used for paneling and as a veneer; it’s also used for burial caskets and other specialty items such as gunstocks, tobacco pipes, musical instruments, turnery, carvings, etc. It is only moderately durable for outdoor projects. Cherry wood is my personal favorite, of all the domestic wood species.
Working with Cherry Wood
Because black cherry wood lumber is easy to cut, stain, and sand, it is considered a premier craftwood, often used for cabinetmaking. The graining of cherry wood receives a variety of finishes and bleaching treatments well. Instead of staining, allowing cherry wood to naturally darken in the sunlight will give it a rich, uniform color that artificial methods are hard-pressed to imitate. While working with cherry wood lumber certainly has many benefits, it also comes with its challenges.
Machining cherry wood is typically simple, due to its uniformity of texture. Because of its fine graining, carbide b its are recommended, and avoiding stopping the router on the wood can help the wood to not burn. To avoid tear out during thickness planning, you should keep passes less than 1/16”. When sanding cherry, paying attention to the grain is important; if you don’t sand with the grain, cross-grain marks and scratches can show up easily.
The heartwood of cherry sometimes exhibits dark areas or black lines that are more than mere variations in coloring: they’re actually gum pockets. As you might imagine, such deviations in texture can make the finishing process challenging.
Another challenge comes in the form of uneven shrinkage, which can lead to warping if the drying process is rushed. If dried properly, however, cherry is fairly stable. While it’s also as strong as maple is, it’s not nearly as hard. Because of that, maple is often stained the color of cherry wood in furniture that requires greater density than true cherry allows.
Evidently, many people have decided that even with those challenges, cherry wood lumber is a wise choice for many uses. From flooring to cabinetry to musical instruments, the experts at J. Gibson McIlvain can help you determine of cherry wood lumber is best for your woodworking needs.
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