Spring is the time of year when the (normally homely) black cherry tree gets to dress up and strut it’s stuff. Hard to believe isn’t it– that these gangly trees with rough, scaley bark will be transformed into beautiful flowering flora (and perhaps one day into natural cherry furniture like the Cherry Moon Bed above).
But it’s true. In a few short weeks they will be bursting with fragrant white and yellow blossoms which will give way to delicious black cherry fruit. These are the trees that provide a sustainable source of wood for over half of the furniture customers purchase from our store, Vermont Woods Studios.
Interested in learning more about cherry trees and natural cherry wood furniture for your home? We are the experts! Check out some of the many “cherry wood” articles we’ve written over the years and give us a call to let us know if you’ve got a question we’ve yet to answer. We’ll jump right on it!
- Cherry Wood Characteristics
- Natural Cherry Wood Furniture: What Color Is It… Really?
- Solid Cherry Wood Furniture: Is it Real?
- Cherry Wood Furniture: Where Does It come From?
- Solid Cherry Wood Furniture: 3 Ways To Tell If It’s Real
- Natural Cherry Wood Furniture Characteristics: Grain Variations
- Natural Cherry Wood Furniture Characteristics: Color
- Natural Cherry Wood Furniture Characteristics: Mineral Deposits
- Solid Cherry Furniture: 18 American Made Collections From Vermont
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.
Since the late 1700′s Shaker has been a popular furniture style. Originally, most pieces of Shaker furniture were either painted or stained to make the piece of furniture more attractive, and as a way to protect the wood. Today, painting shaker furniture is a rarity; however, the wood species remain the same. Cherry Shaker furniture is one of the most sought after designs in the furniture industry. Like the original Shaker furniture designs, we wouldn’t dream of importing exotic wood, like mahogany, for furniture. Vermont Woods Studios’ Shaker furniture is made from sustainably harvested American woods, with cherry being the most popular. Natural cherry wood is one of the most prized hardwoods in the United States, and is excellent wood for furniture. Many would no longer dream of painting such a distinct, fine wood. Instead, a clear finish is applied to the furniture offering optimal protection for the wood. A clear finish helps enhance the natural beauty of the cherry wood, instead of covering it up by paint.
If you’re looking to add a piece of cherry Shaker furniture to your home, now is the time. Right now we are having a Winter Shaker Style Furniture Sale. We offer over 200 pieces of Shaker influenced furniture, ranging from traditional styles to a more contemporary style. Save 10% on one piece, 15% on two pieces, or 20% on three or more pieces of Shaker style furniture. Each of our Shaker furniture pieces are backed by a lifetime guarantee and come with free shipping!
Shop for your new cherry Shaker furniture securely, easily, and conveniently from our online gallery. Our furniture specialists are also available to assist you through our Live Chat option (located in the top right corner of our online gallery), by phone (888-390-5571), or by email.
This sale ends on Thursday, January 17 at midnight.
*Sale excludes Copeland Furniture
What Does Real Cherry Furniture Look Like?
I just did a Google search for “cherry furniture” and above are the products that came up on Google’s sponsored ads. Guess how many of these pieces are actually made of real cherry wood? None. Hard to believe isn’t it? Not a single one of these pieces looks even remotely like cherry. I can’t figure out why furniture makers get it so wrong but the error is absolutely pervasive in the world of imported furniture. In fact, many times when customers come to us for real cherry furniture, they ask us to apply a dark stain to our natural cherry products to make them match their imported “cherry furniture” (Vermont furniture makers actually break down and cry when we ask them to stain cherry wood, by the way).
So I thought I’d post a couple photos so you can see what real, natural cherry wood furniture looks like. Below is our American Shaker Bedroom Furniture Collection. You can see that the wood color is much lighter than any of the imported fake cherry furniture shown above. Why is that?
Well, cherry wood actually changes color! It darkens with age. Below is of a brand new natural cherry wood bedroom set.
The same natural cherry wood bed and bedroom set after 6 months of exposure to light looks like this:
Quite a difference isn’t it? Both beds have the same coating– it’s a hand rubbed natural linseed oil finish. It’s the exposure to sunlight that darkens (or ripens) cherry and transforms it from a light color to a rich, dark reddish brown.
Another way to tell if your furniture is made of real organic cherry is to look for mineral deposits. These are small black flecks in the grain where tiny amounts of sap were stored by the tree. Mineral deposits (or pitch pockets) are natural and randomly occurring. They are part of what makes each cherry piece unique. Many times, imported furniture that’s called “cherry” is made with inferior woods that undergo a multi-step chemical process of bleaching, texturizing and staining in an attempt to achieve the classic ripened cherry color. Even if the color does come out close to real cherry, the wood will be absent of cherry’s characteristic mineral deposits– the telltale sign of a fake.
So which do you prefer? New cherry, ripened cherry or fake cherry? Let us know in the comments section below or weigh in on our Facebook.
The northeast is the birthplace of Shaker style furniture in the United States. For over two centuries the Shaker style has been admired for it’s simplistic aesthetics and sturdy design. It has become an inspiration to many contemporary furniture designs, and has become our most popular style.
Vermont Woods Studios offers six Shaker furniture
collections to include over 200 pieces of Shaker influenced furniture, ranging from traditional designs to Shaker style furniture with a modern flair. Our traditional Shaker style furniture can be found in the New England Shaker Furniture, Classic Shaker Furniture, and Renfrew Shaker Furniture collections, while our more modern designs are included in the Modern Shaker Furniture, Vermont Shaker Furniture, and American Shaker Furniture collections. However, all of the furniture features simple, clean lines similar to the original pieces in the late 1700′s.
Our Annual Fall Shaker Sale begins today! Save 10% on one piece, 15% on two pieces, and 20% on three or more pieces (plus free shipping)! Your fine wood furniture will also be backed by a lifetime guarantee! Start shopping today conveniently from our online gallery. This sale ends on Tuesday, October 2nd at midnight.
Customers are often surprised to learn that natural cherry wood 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 Modern American 3 Drawer Nightstand shown 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 Modern Shaker Bookcase 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 to at least this hue within 4-6 months. Cherry furniture will darken even further given enough light.
Our craftspeople suggest exposing the furniture to as much light as possible. For cherry furniture that has an oil finish, you can also speed up the ripening (or darkening) process by re-oiling the furniture often. They recommend re-oiling once a day for the first week, once a week for the first month, once a month for the first year and once a year thereafter.
Adding a dark stain is also a possibility but woodworkers always plead with us to have patience and wait it out instead (there is really no comparison between stained cherry and the real thing).
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.
Cherry wood is perhaps the most prized furniture hardwood in America. Our Vermont Woods Studios Furniture craftsmen typically use cherry that is grown in sustainable forests 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.
Because we sell most of our cherry wood furniture online, we focus our website on ensuring our customers understand what natural cherry wood looks like. We've created detailed descriptions of cherry wood, we offer wood samples and we feature great photos that show the color and grain of the wood.
One thing we always point out to customers is that a single cherry wood board can have grain contrasts. The lighter grain was closer to the tree’s bark (sapwood) and the darker grain was closer to the tree’s center (heartwood). This picture 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.
For example, if you look closely at the top of this table, you will see some of the grain contrast. We minimize the appearance of the sapwood by flipping the boards so that the heartwood is on the tabletop. If you were to look at the tabletop from underneath the table you would see a bit more traces of sapwood.
Cheaper furniture that is mass-produced is usually 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 do 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.
Cherry wood furniture is a favorite among our customers and people are always asking where the wood comes from. We source as much wood as we can locally, preferably right here in Vermont. But cherry wood isn't a big component of the Green Mountain Forest. There are a few cherry trees here and there across Vermont, but Pennsylvania is really the Cherry Capitol of the world and that's where we get most of our cherry wood. It is arguably the finest cherry wood on earth and is prized for its lovely red color, grain and luster.
Fortunately for us, in 1995 the state of Pennsylvania had the foresight to protect and preserve a great deal of their cherry wood resources. They committed to maintaining the state forest system sustainably and began green certifying it, by the Forest Stewardship Council, FSC. FSC is considered the gold standard in third party certifications of forests so we can be confident that the forests providing our cherry wood will be around to enjoy for many generations… just like our cherry wood furniture.
We send our Vermont Made Furniture all across the country and we're always excited to see how it looks as installed in our customers' homes. We are very grateful to Polly D. for sending us these photos of her lovely home, filled with many pieces of the Cherry Moon Furniture Collection which she's been acquiring over the years. This is the Cherry Moon Bed, shown with the Cherry Moon 1-Drawer Nightstand and the Cherry Moon 5 Drawer Chest.
And here's a photo of a different custom Cherry Moon Coffee Table.
Polly's Vermont-made Shaker cherry dining table and Mission chairs
have a very different style than the Cherry Moon pieces, but the cherry
wood really ties it all together, doesn't it? Well that and Polly's interior decorating skill.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into Polly's home as much as I did. Thanks for sharing the photos, Polly!
We often take weeks or even months to pick out our furniture and make sure it's perfect for our family and our home. But have you ever wondered where your furniture comes from? More and more people are feeling that the origin and crafting of their furniture is just as important as the look, style and feel of it. Families want to know that they have made a socially and environmentally responsible choice with regard to how their furniture is made.
Over the past several years, over half of our handcrafted furniture has been made with natural cherry wood. It's not a species that grows very well in Vermont so we use wood from the Allegheny forest region of Pennsylvania, which is known for its sustainable forest management practices.
A few facts about natural cherry wood, courtesy of the American Hardwood Information Center:
- Cherry is a fruit tree, of course
- The average cherry tree height is 60 to 80 feet
- Cherry trees can live to the extreme ages of 150 to 200 years
- American Colonists used the cherry tree for its fruit, medicinal properties and home furnishings.
- They mixed cherry juice with rum to create Cherry Bounce, a bitter but highly favored cordial.
- The bark was used in the production of drugs to treat bronchitis
- Cherry stalks were used to make tonics
- Surprisingly, cherry trees belong to the rose family