We have conversations with customers every day about the color of real cherry wood furniture. It’s no wonder! When I just googled “real cherry wood” these well over 50 shades of cherry came up. Quite a variation, isn’t it?
First of all, half of these images are NOT of cherry wood. When the big American furniture companies started off-shoring their furniture to China over 30 years ago they found it cheaper to use rainforest woods (rather than import cherry from North America and then export it back to North America as furniture). So they stained these cheaper woods and gave them various trade names containing “cherry”. For example Makore, an increasingly rare African wood being illegally logged in Sierra Leone and Gabon has been sold under the trade name Cherry Mahogany, though Makore is not closely related to either cherry or mahogany. Worse yet, it is listed as an endangered species due to illegal logging and exploitation by organized crime which has taken root in the global timber industry.
Many times customers come to us looking to buy real cherry furniture that matches existing cherry pieces in their homes. After discussions and emailing pictures back and forth they are shocked to find that their “cherry” furniture from Bassett, Broyhill, Ethan Allen, Thomasville, Drexel, Lane or other big “American” companies is not cherry at all but rubberwood, poplar or some kind of engineered hardwood.
Vermont is America’s “go to” store for authentic Cherry Wood Furniture. Cherry has been the wood of choice for hundreds of Vermont craftsmen for decades.
Whereas most of the big “American” furniture companies have outsourced their wood furniture manufacturing to Asia and Latin America, Vermont companies (with the exception of Ethan Allen) have remained solely here in the USA.
Vermont cherry furniture is made to a higher standard and it’s still made from real, solid American black cherry wood. In contrast, many of the well known “American” furniture companies from North Carolina now use Asian woods like rubberwood which they stain and call “cherry”.
So it’s no wonder that customers come to us with many questions as they seek to find and purchase authentic American black cherry wood furniture. I thought I’d round up five of our previous blog posts written in response to customer questions about “cherry wood furniture” in hopes of streamlining your research on the subject. Feel free to post your own questions and comments below or on our Facebook.
I was working with one of our Vermont Woods Studios customers yesterday who was looking for a natural cherry bed to match existing cherry furniture in his bedroom. He’s had the existing furniture for about 10 years and now it’s a lovely, rich reddish brown color– something like this solid cherry bed made by Robin Chase of Maple Corner Woodworks.
The problem is that natural cherry starts out a much lighter wood, usually with a color similar to this Cherry Moon Bed 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 above varies with the amount of light in the room and can take anywhere from a few months to a number of years. Most customers, however report that their furniture darkens within 6-12 months.
Customers 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 always plead with us to have patience and wait it out instead. For most customers, the result truly is 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.