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.
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.
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.
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.
People often ask if there is a way to speed up the ripening process.
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.