American Cherry (Prunus Serotina)

American cherry is universally highly prized as a timber for high quality furniture, joinery and flooring. Of the red coloured hardwoods it is certainly one of the most sustainable and in our opinion the most beautiful. Cherry is distributed throughout the eastern side of the USA and is scattered within mixed hardwood forests (as opposed to fruit orchards). Pennsylvania has a particularly high concentration of cherry forest with very high quality timber. Our cherry selection policy at Chris Sharp Cabinets is based on colour, grain variety, character, lack of sapwood, lack of open pitch pockets, environmental integrity and seasoning.

Colour of Cherry in our furniture

The short answer is a warm and sensuous orangey red. American cherry when given a coat of clear lacquer positively glows. You may have seen cherry wood flooring that makes a feature of the difference between the red heartwood and the contrasting pale sapwood, well this is not the intention with our cherry furniture. Our main concern when cutting and selecting cherry is to remove as much sapwood as possible from the outside surfaces, however there is a small percentage allowable. Regarding the colour variation within the heartwood, there may be, as with all solid wood, a small variation. with exposure to UV light and the consequent darkening it is our experience that heartwood colour evens out to a certain extent. We do filter out any extremes of colour.

Colour - General information.

As a raw wood while we're making the furniture, American cherry is surprisingly pale and not a million miles away from maple, at this stage the heartwood and sapwood are very similar in colour, however when a clear finish is applied cherry is transformed to a pleasing pale raw salmon pink. Exposure to daylight will gradually darken the heartwood to more of a smoked salmon rich orangey red, not dissimilar to real mahogany (but without the guilt) the sapwood is less susceptible to the effects of UV light and will become more distinct from the heartwood. It is a good idea on a new piece of cherry furniture to occasionally change the position of objects on top to avoid "ghosting" (the pale area left due to the lack of exposure to UV light). Any ghosting soon blends back if left uncovered.

Grain and the different cuts.

American cherry has a moderately pronounced grain, however unlike oak this is due to colour rather than texture. As previously stated cherry is a warm orange red with darker brown grain (annual rings) sometimes between the annual rings there maybe very subtle but attractive green/brown graining. A characteristic of American cherry are gum streaks these manifest themselves as brown dashes dispersed throughout the timber we would reject any larger open pockets. Cherry has a smooth silky texture. Almost all American cherry is sawn tangentially (flatsawn, plainsawn, crowncut etc) this gives cherry a wild and decorative grain.

Grain variety and look in our furniture.

The most common cherry furniture is the French style reproduction the best of which is actually produced in France using European cherry. Because of the fact this furniture is reproduction it is often stained and patinated to look older. Our furniture by contrast although made from the darker American cherry but with a clear finish is still lighter than the above (but give it a hundred years or so).

How our cherry furniture is made.

Firstly our citrus and eight ranges are completely made here in Lincolnshire by our own team of local craftspeople. Our construction technique uses best practice based on 35 years experience in the furniture trade and a family cabinet making heritage going back four generations. We utilize virtually every joint in the book including mortise and tenon. Dovetail, dowel and high precision butt joints. Our use of materials is based on beauty strength stability and longevity and not on cost or ease. All of our tables, chairs and beds are made completely with the above mentioned cherry, our cabinets are constructed using the same solid cherry and where necessary very carefully selected cherry veneers. Every piece of furniture is made to order especially for each individual customer, work usually commences within a few days of order and may take up to two weeks from raw material to finished piece, our cycle of delivery is usually less than a week and a half.

How our cherry furniture is finished.

We offer two different finishes, our personal favourite is a clear lacquer, this is a durable, water resistant and maintenance free surface coating. The two part lacquer we use is a 20% sheen so should be considered between matt and eggshell and is baked on in an oven. This finish emphasises the beauty of the cherry whilst maintaining a natural appearance. The wax oil is as the name implies a mixture of organic (as opposed to mineral based) oils and waxes, as this oil soaks into rather than coats the cherry, the effect is to slightly dull down the grain and give an attractive matt finish. Many people do like the idea of furniture that will patinate with age and enjoy the maintenance process (a twice yearly buff with Danish oil), if this is you and particularly if you have a high traffic environment (kids) then wax oil is ideal.