Shopping online for high quality, real cherry wood furniture requires a great deal of research. After all, fine furniture is a big investment-- one you'll want to own and enjoy for a lifetime, and hand down to your children and grandchildren.
Vermont furniture makers work with cherry more than any other wood. They are considered America's authority on high end, fine cherry furniture. Over the years we've learned a lot from them and have written it all down in the form of tips and advice, furniture articles and blog posts.
We've compiled these questions and answers to share with you here. Read on to learn more about cherry wood characteristics, best furniture finishes for cherry, solid wood versus veneered construction, sapwood versus heartwood and how the color of cherry changes over time. If you have questions we've not yet answered let us know!
Cherry wood starts out a light pinkish tone right after the tree is cut and milled. Over time, with exposure to light, cherry darkens to a rich reddish brown. Read: What Color Is Real Cherry Furniture?
It depends. Do you have young children and/or rambunctious pets? Most parents of young children (and pets) opt for a poly or lacquer finish for cherry furniture, especially if it's for a kitchen or dining room table. That's because these finishes are easy to clean with a damp cloth. If you're in love with the natural feel of cherry wood though, you'll probably want to opt for a linseed oil finish. With oil finishes, plan on re-oiling your furniture periodically to maintain a patina. Read: Our Furniture Finishes and Care and Maintenance of Wood Furniture Finishes
Both solid wood and veneered cherry furniture have their advantages and disadvantages. To learn more about comparing them in terms of cost, ability to be re-finished, stability, design, esthetic and durability read: Fine Furniture Characteristics: Solid Wood versus Veneer
The world's largest forests of high quality cherry are in the Allegheny Plateau of Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia. Sparse areas of black cherry can be found in Vermont. Although they are not furniture grade in quality, they are important to wildlife for fruit.
You can feel pretty confident that any furniture made in America from North American Black Cherry hardwood is eco-friendly. On the other hand, Brazilian cherry furniture is made from tropical wood (not cherry at all, but it's been given that trade name) which may well have been illegally clear cut from the planet's rapidly disappearing rainforests. Read: Wood Furniture is Linked to Global Forest Conservation.
When a black cherry tree is sawn you can see in a cross section that there is lighter grain close to the tree’s bark (sapwood) and darker grain close to the tree’s center (heartwood). Many people prefer the darker color, so furniture makers try to make visible parts of furniture (like a table top) with heartwood. Non-visible parts (like the bottom of a table top) typically have more sapwood. Read: Grades of cherry wood.
Small black flecks occur in the grain of all Black Cherry trees. Tiny amounts of sap were stored there. These mineral deposits (or pitch pockets) are natural and randomly occurring. They do not diminish the strength or quality of your furniture. As we say: they add to its uniqueness. Read: Natural Cherry Wood Furniture: Mineral Deposits.
Most furniture makers are reluctant to offer cherry furniture without mineral deposits. First, it is against sustainable forestry principles. Up to five times the number of trees need to be harvested to produce furniture with virtually no mineral deposits. Second, the presence of mineral deposits in cherry wood can be a matter of opinion. What one person might feel was mineral-deposit free furniture may not be the same for another customer.
A number of factors including origin, color, grade and width of the boards, type of joinery, expertise and reputation of the furniture maker and overall level of craftsmanship. Top quality cherry furniture comes with a lifetime guarantee. Read: High Quality Wood Furniture: Tips For Finding the Best Craftsmanship.