March 11th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
Cherry, cherry cherry. Over half the furniture we sell at Vermont Woods Studios is made of beautiful, lustrous cherry wood from the American black cherry fruit tree. Often customers come to us a little bit suspicious about whether our handmade furniture is made of real solid cherry wood.
Well, it's no wonder! Most furniture that's sold as cherry isn't cherry at all. Hard to believe isn't it? So I thought we would publish a few tips for determining if the cherry furniture you're looking at is actually made of real cherry.
Here are 3 things to look for:
What color is the wood? OK, this is a trick question. Freshly harvested cherry wood is a light pinkesh color but as cherry ages or ripens in the presence of light, it gets darker and eventually reaches a rich reddish brown. So when you're shopping be sure to ask if the furniture is brand new or if it's been in the showroom for a number of months.
The Cherry Moon bed above is about a month old so it has ripened some but in another few months (depending on the amount of ambient light) it will be as dark as the bed at left. Eventually all natural cherry furniture will end up about this same color. Often customers will request a dark stain on cherry to "hurry-up" the process. If you just can't wait we can usually convince our furniture makers to stain cherry but most of them would rather plead with customers to be patient and wait for the real thing.
What does the grain look like? Cherry has a simple, fine, closed grain, much like that of maple. You can see the grain pattern pretty well in the Cherry Moon bed above. Fake "cherry" wood often has little or no grain pattern. It's made by taking a cheaper wood, bleaching it, texturizing it with chemicals, then staining it with a "cherry" stain.
Are there occasional black flecks and black streaks in the wood? Real cherry has beautiful markings (from gum streaking, mineral deposits and pin knots). Fake cherry looks entirely uniform in grain due to the chemical processing mentioned above. It's unlikely you'll ever find black flecks or streaks in faux cherry woods.