Why I Build Cherry Furniture

As a woodworker, I have a close relationship with my materials. The wood I use determines the nature of both the building process and the final product. For these reasons and others, there is one wood I love working with the most: cherry. Cherry furniture is as much a pleasure to make as it is to own.

A True Native

Black cherry is native to North and South America and is part of Vermont’s heritage. Its fruit plays an important part in our local food chain, and those who spend enough time in the woods know it as one of our black bears’ favorite foods.

Cherry also holds a proud place in the history of American woodworking. Early U.S. furniture makers, like the Shakers, quickly realized that they had a world-class cabinetwood on their hands. They used cherry and other northern hardwoods to eliminate our dependence on foreign timber, making quality furniture entirely from local materials.
Shaker Bookcase

A Color that Ages Like Wine

Cherry has the most beautiful color of any wood. It often begins light and even pinkish, but it deepens into a darker, richer shade with sunlight and time. This is a desirable process, much like the formation of verdigris on a copper weathervane.
Stand Up Writing Desk
Of course, nobody wants uneven coloration. I take extra care with cherry in the workshop to prevent the sun from darkening it in sections. This is especially critical in the early stages, before the wood has any sort of coating.

An Exceptional Grain

Just like tiger maple, cherry features a gorgeous quilted appearance. Lines cross back and forth, opposing the grain. This is a large part of what makes it such a wonderful material.

This exceptional grain affects more than appearance; it lends cherry furniture a uniquely soft and smooth texture.
Mission Style Dressing Table
The grain is also just different in ways I can’t describe, ways that separate it even from outwardly similar woods like tiger maple and walnut. It’s much easier to work. When I’m creating with cherry, my vision for the completed piece seems to simply flow into existence.

A Durable Hardwood

Cherry is as strong as it is beautiful. It has enough spring in it to avoid snapping under a sudden impact, and it is hard enough to resist scratching and to stand firm beneath a heavy load (all within reason, of course).

I can’t recommend cherry furniture strongly enough. Such pieces are practical and hardy enough to use every day and attractive enough to become family treasures. There’s nothing else I’d rather build.

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