Cherry wood (from the American Black Cherry fruit tree) is perhaps the most prized furniture hardwood in America. Our craftsmen use sustainably harvested cherry that is typically grown in Pennsylvania, as that is home to the finest cherry wood in all the world. For each piece of furniture, natural cherry boards are carefully selected for excellence in grain match, color and width. Solidly built, using traditional joinery techniques like mortise & tenon, and dovetail joints, our cherry wood furniture is designed for you to pass down to your children and grandchildren.
We hope to answer your questions about American made cherry furniture below but if you need more detail, check out Cherry Furniture: The Ultimate Buyers Guide where you'll find the Top 10 FAQs about Cherry Fine Furniture.
Customers are often surprised to learn that natural cherry wood furniture changes colors over time-- quite a bit actually. Natural cherry wood starts out as a light-toned wood, usually with a color similar to the Cherry Moon Bed shown below and it takes time to darken as it is exposed to light. The length of time to go from this light color to the darker color shown below in our American Shaker Panel Bed varies with the amount of natural and artificial light in the room and can take anywhere from a month to a number of years. Most customers, however report that their furniture darkens within 4-6 months.
People often ask if there is a way to speed up the process and the consensus among our craftspeople is that the best solution is just to expose the furniture to as much light as possible. Adding a dark stain is also a possibility but woodworkers often plead with us to have patience and wait it out instead. The result-- a natural rich, reddish brown hue that is exceptionally lustrous and supple to the touch. It is truly worth waiting for especially since our furniture is purchased for a lifetime of use. Check out more photos of our natural cherry furniture in the Cherry Moon Collection, Vermont-Made Shaker Collection and throughout our website.
Special note for extension tables: We strongly recommend that an extension table be left extended with the extension leaf/leaves in position for the first 9-12 months after you receive it. This is to ensure that the color of the extension leaves ages uniformly with the rest of the table. If the extension leaves are kept stored away from the same light conditions as the table, they could end up a considerably lighter shade that the rest of the table.
It is not uncommon to find different grain contrasts in the same piece of solid cherry wood furniture. The lighter grain was closer to the tree’s bark (sapwood) and the darker grain was closer to the tree’s center (heartwood).
The picture to the left shows a cross section of a cherry tree. The dark center of the tree is the heartwood and the light outer ring is the sapwood. When choosing boards for your furniture, we focus on the darker heartwood however we cannot guarantee there will be no trace of sapwood.
Cheaper furniture that is mass-produced is often made of wood that has undergone a multi-step chemical process of bleaching, texturizing and staining in order to masque these natural characteristics of the cherry wood. In fact, most so called "cherry furniture" is not made of cherry wood at all. It's made of veneers and woods like poplar or alder that are heavily processed and do not look much like natural cherry at all.
At Vermont Woods Studios our natural cherry wood furniture is the real thing. We take the time to select and join boards that have the best available grain match, but we cannot guarantee the kind of uniformity in color that you will find in heavily processed laminate surfaces. For more information on grain contrast or to order cherry wood furniture made exclusively of heartwood give us a call.
One characteristic of natural cherry is the mineral deposit--a small black fleck in the grain where tiny amounts of sap were stored. Mineral deposits (or pitch pockets) are natural and randomly occurring. They do not diminish the strength or quality of your furniture, but rather add to its uniqueness. The frequency of mineral deposits in our furniture is reflected in the product photos throughout our website-- it is minimal. Like any other fine furniture maker however, we cannot guarantee the absence of mineral deposits in our cherry wood furniture and we cannot consider the presence of mineral deposits a reason for furniture returns.
One of our craftsman likes to put it this way: "handmade furniture is like people, it's the idiosyncrasies that make it interesting".
Most of our furniture makers are reluctant to offer cherry furniture without mineral deposits for a couple reasons. First, it is against our 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 customer might feel was mineral-deposit free furniture may not be the same for another customer. If mineral deposits are an issue for you, please give us a call. We should mention that the price of a "virtually mineral deposit-free" piece will generally be about twice that of the regular piece.