Cherry wood is named for its cherry-like appearance. The straight-grained wood is typically reddish-brown with pink undertones but can also be yellow, olive-brown, or almost black in color, depending on its type. Cherry is classified as hardwood— it is durable and its color holds up well over time, deepening in tone over time.
It is a popular, sought-after choice for many woodworkers and is often used in the crafting of furniture, flooring, and other items due to its strength and beauty.
This article will review 6 types of cherry wood that are available for purchase and also answer some frequently asked questions about the wood.
Origins of Cherry Wood
Cherry trees are native to North America, Asia, and northern Europe. Many varieties of the tree have been found throughout these regions. It has been used since ancient times to make a wide variety of items including bowls, furniture, and decorative carvings. Cherry wood has been popular since 400 BC and has remained well-liked among woodworkers because of its beautiful grain and durability.
It grows fast and has a long life span. It is resistant to rot and insects, making it a wonderful choice for use in crafting furniture and other items that will be used indoors for a long time. It has been popularly used in the crafting of decorative objects, such as violins and guitars.
6 Different Types Of Cherry Woods
1. Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Also known as American cherry, it is the most common type of cherry wood. It is reddish-brown with pink undertones and can be nearly black in color.
Black cherry has many uses but finds its way into woodworking often because of its strength, easy workability, resistance to wear, and overall durability.
Even though it is a bit difficult to stain, using a sanding sealer before or just using a gel-based stain should solve the problem. It is commonly used for making furniture, cabinets, doors, flooring, and other wood products. It is also popular in use for making guitars, violins, and other musical instruments because it can be easily carved into small intricately designed objects.
Also Read: Best Wood for Carving
It is recommended to wear protective gear and eyewear when sanding and cutting black cherry as it can release wood particles that are harmful when inhaled causing irritation and respiratory problems.
2. Sweet Cherry Wood (Prunus avium)
Lighter in color than black cherry, sweet cherry wood is yellow with pink undertones but isn’t widely available. It is found more commonly in Europe and has a variety of uses: This type of wood can be used in the crafting of furniture, gunstocks, musical instruments, veneer, and decorative carvings.
It is stronger and denser but isn’t as resistant to decay and insects as black cherry. Sweet cherry wood is also pricier and harder to work with when compared to black cherry. When it comes to odor, this wood doesn’t have a strong smell. There isn’t even any known toxicity associated with sweet cherry wood either.
Similar to black cherry, sweet cherry is also difficult to stain. It is recommended to use a sanding sealer or just a gel-based stain instead.
The wood is also commonly called wild cherry and is usually sold in small pieces of lumber or planks due to the tree’s small size, growth habit, and rarity.
3. Brazilian Cherry (Hymenaea courbaril)
Popularly known as Jatoba wood, Brazilian cherry is commonly used in the crafting of flooring, paneling, boat decks, cabinetry, tool handles, and other wood products.
It is known for its strength, hardness, and durability. This type of cherry wood is very heavy with an orange to dark red-brown color. It is hard, dense, and very durable. As the name implies, it comes from South America and is found in the rainforests.
It can be easily stained to brighten its reddish-brown color though not only that, it can also be easily steam-bent and molded to fit any type of furniture design and other projects. It doesn’t have any noticeable odor either when used in woodworking projects.
Though a bit difficult to work with because of its stiffness and strength, it is resistant to insects and decay, also Jotoba wood isn’t known to commonly cause severe allergies though it can cause skin allergies in some individuals.
4. Patagonian Cherry (Guibourtia hymenaeifolia)
Also famously called Tiete Rosewood, this type of cherry wood is known for its vibrant orange to pinkish-brown color and also comes from South America. Its density is very high, making it strong and hard. It is known for its durability and resilience and is commonly used for interior flooring, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.
Its scent is very light and can’t be detected easily. Patagonian cherry is a bit difficult to work with due to its high density making it hard and stiff. It is mainly used for flooring due to its surface wear resistance and durability.
Though Tiete Rosewood’s grain and appearance aren’t as varied as other types of cherry wood, its straight grain helps with efficient cutting and avoids tear-out.
Also, the wood isn’t known to cause any severe allergies or respiratory problems. Another interesting element of this wood is that after installation during just the first three months, its color will darken after the surface is exposed to certain environmental conditions reaching its final color.
5. Caribbean Cherry (Lonchocarpus spp.)
Also known as Black Cabbage Bark, Machiche, and Mayan/Aztec Cherry, Caribbean Cherry wood isn’t as popular or well-loved as black cherry and its color varies. The wood comes in a range of colors from black, medium to dark brown, or a deep yellowish red with the color being influenced by the growing environment.
Sourced from Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, this type of cherry wood is mainly used for decking, flooring, furniture, as well as in heavy construction.
Caribbean Cherry is extremely hard to work with due to its hardness and density, which are among other reasons why it isn’t commonly used. Its durability and insect resistance varies according to its origin/type but generally is strong and does well in resisting pests and insects.
Machiche isn’t commonly known to have a strong smell and to cause any serious allergies or breathing problems although some individuals can experience mild skin allergic reactions to the wood.
6. Chilean Cherry (Nothofagus dombeyi)
Not quite as common as some of the other types of cherry wood, Chilean Cherry is mainly used for exterior flooring and decking. The wood is native to Chile and Argentina but has mostly restrictions placed on its foreign trade due to the limited available supply and can only be used in residential projects.
The wood’s color ranges from a light pinkish brown to a dark reddish-brown and is actually known to darken very well with age. This type of cherry wood is hard and strong, yet it is easy to work with and doesn’t produce many problems while cutting or machining.
Chilean Cherry’s rarity makes it an expensive type of cherry wood that is difficult to find, and has low resistance to decay, but responds well to finishes and steam-bending.
What type of wood is cherry?
Cherry wood is a type of wood that comes in both dark and light reddish brown colors, with the light-colored cherry wood having a fine grain while the dark stained cherry wood has a coarse grain that is easy to see. Another quality of cherry woods is that their color deepens and darkens naturally as they age. Cherry wood’s most common uses are for making furniture, cabinets, floors, and more.
What kind of cherry wood is used for furniture?
As the most common type of cherry wood, black Cherry is used to make a variety of different furniture including cabinets, floors, and doors due to its high durability and resistance factor to decay and insects but other types of cherry wood such as sweet cherry, Brazilian cherry, Caribbean Cherry and Chilean Cherry can be used to make furniture as all types of cherry wood are strong, durable and look very attractive.
How can you tell real cherry wood?
The main way to tell real cherry wood is by its distinct color, grain, and strength. Cherry wood starts out as a light pinkish brown color then darkens due to age and exposure to the environment into a medium to dark reddish-brown color. The grain of cherry wood can vary from moderately to coarsely and sometimes even very straight. Cherry wood is known for its strength and durability as well as its ability to resist decay and extreme weather conditions which makes it one of the most preferred woods in the world.
If purchasing a custom-made item or buying from a specific manufacturer or company, it’s important to check all information regarding the species of wood, as well as its origin and other important factors such as any available information on the wood’s hardness. Cherry woods are known for their beautiful grain patterns, which can vary depending on their location, origin, or type.
Ask the seller to describe where the cherry wood came from and how long has it been since it was harvested or when it was manufactured. If the seller is unable to answer your questions or they are rather vague, there’s a possibility that what you are purchasing may not be made of 100% cherry wood, so it’s best to do some research on the company or seller and the type of cherry wood you’re interested in before making any purchases.
Why is cherry wood so expensive?
Cherry wood is expensive due to its popularity and qualities. Its high demand among furniture makers, manufacturers, and the general population give it a higher price tag than other types of wood that can be used for similar purposes.
Cherry wood is typically used in making cabinets, doors, floors, and furniture due to its variety of applications such as its ability to resist heat, scratches, stains, decay, and other various environmental factors. As Cherry wood comes in both dark and light reddish brown colors, with darker streaks and veins, and also ages like fine wine, the wood is among the most popular in North America due to its rich color and beauty.
Though generally expensive, the price of cherry wood does vary according to its location, age, type of wood, seller, and other factors that can affect the price. Usually, a darker and rarer cherry wood costs more than a lighter colored and easily available cherry wood due to its rarity and beautiful color patterns that make the wood stand out.
Overall, Cherry wood is a very popular type of wood used for a variety of furniture and other household products. As with most types of wood, it is recommended to be careful in purchasing cherry wood in order to avoid being scammed or sold a lower quality product.
Cherry wood is one of the most popular types of hardwood due to its variety of durability and beauty. It is also available in various colors and grains, which have turned it into a highly desired wood in the world of woodworking.
Cherry woods are rich with character, and durability and are among the most beautiful in terms of color, grain, and pattern. Just be careful if you have sensitive skin as some types of cherry wood dust have been known to cause allergic reactions, but apart from that cherry wood is a brilliant type of wood for anyone’s furniture or carpentry needs.
Lawrence D. Reynolds is an experienced carpenter and woodworker who started this site to help others get into this craft by providing advice on choosing tools and materials and sharing How-To guides about woodworking. He has been into Woodworking for over 25 years and enjoys nothing more than sharing his knowledge and helping others learn about this wonderful material.