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, unfortunately) have remained 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.
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.
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.
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.