March 14th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
We’re in the middle of a Shaker furniture sale and I can’t help but notice that almost all the pieces customers have bought have been of a single wood species. We offer a choice of four woods on most of our furniture: maple, cherry, oak and walnut. Which one do you think is the favorite?
Back in the 19 century, the original Shakers built their furniture with woods harvested from their own land. According to Nancy Fischer of BuildDirectBlog, “In the east, this included pine, maple, ash, birch, cherry, hickory and butternut. In the west, walnut, cherry, beech and poplar were used”.
Today’s most popular wood (amongst our customers, anyway) for Shaker furniture is indeed one of those nine woods used 150 years ago. Hint: it’s the wood shown in the photo. OK, it’s cherry wood. I’m not sure why cherry has stormed itself to the top of the best seller list so forcefully but it is a beautiful wood. Woodworkers love it because it’s easy to work with, stains and finishes well with natural oil, and ages beautifully.
Customers love cherry’s clean grain and reddish-brown color that develops a rich patina over time. The fact that cherry wood lasts forever (as demonstrated by some of the valuable antique Shaker furniture originating in Vermont and New England) doesn’t hurt either.
Which wood do you like best for Shaker style furniture? Let us know on our Facebook or comment below.