Questions about Cherry

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Forum topic by groland posted 06-28-2012 12:59 PM 3837 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View groland's profile


212 posts in 3647 days

06-28-2012 12:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry lumber characteristics

I am starting to buy and build furniture with cherry.

I find in the boards areas of dark brown-black, slightly granular-looking material.

I also find thin red lines that meander around.

I also find little dots or points of darker wood that often produce some tear out.

What are these areas? Are they found in all cherry? (I have yet to find a board that doesn’t carry one or more of these passages).

Are these considered flaws that ought not to be seen in fine furniture? If so, how do you 1. buy lumber without these areas or 2. handle them if they are ubiquitous?



13 replies so far

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2709 days

#1 posted 06-28-2012 01:06 PM


View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3979 days

#2 posted 06-28-2012 01:36 PM

That’s cherry. Unless you’re Thomas Moser, and can buy cherry by the train car load, and cull out all the pieces with these symptoms, you’ll have to live with it, like the rest of us. As the cherry darkens with age, the blemishes aren’t as noticeable.

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2612 days

#3 posted 06-28-2012 01:39 PM

Blemishes? i thought it was called character. have i been bamboozled all these years?

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2605 days

#4 posted 06-28-2012 01:42 PM

“Are these considered flaws that ought not to be seen in fine furniture?”

Don’t know much about the issues you speak of, but generally, if its different but looks good, by all means show it off. If it looks bad, hide it.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8609 posts in 2563 days

#5 posted 06-28-2012 01:57 PM

I used to get the Thom. M. catalog and just drool…. their work is so nice. Missed the chance to tour their facility a couple years ago…. I was really looking forward to it.

Their web site is a good place to see and learn about making things with Cherry.

Tim is right… they buy boat loads of lumber out of PA and then get real picky with matching grain, etc….

I’d sure like to dive their dumpsters :^)

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View groland's profile


212 posts in 3647 days

#6 posted 06-28-2012 02:16 PM

I was interested to read that several respondents cited Thomas Moser furniture. My wife and I own one of their bow front tables in cherry, and its top exhibits almost none of the markings I cited in my posting. It was that quality of lumber I was thinking about when I posted.

In truth, I have only purchased three small lots of cherry lumber. The first two were barn wood from local sellers. The first had a little worm damage here and there, but I was able to work around that and build a small table. The second lot was riddled with worm—I found out it is hard for me to spot this with rough-sawn, old blackened boards in a dimly lit barn. Good source of firewood. My third lot came from Groff & Groff, and was in real good shape other than the markings I mentioned.

Man, if Moser finds as much clear cherry as they must to build their furniture, the discard rate must be really high!


View Ryan Haasen's profile

Ryan Haasen

385 posts in 2636 days

#7 posted 06-28-2012 02:21 PM

Thats what I love about cherry, it get darker and more beautiful over time.

-- Ryan

View woodworker59's profile


560 posts in 2436 days

#8 posted 06-28-2012 02:32 PM

I work with cherry a lot, and have found very little that doesn’t carry the flaws that you described.. they are not really flaws. There are places that sell wormy cherry at a premium price for the discriminate buyer. the wormy areas as you call them are created by a beatle that lays its eggs in the bark of the tree, as the tree grows these
areas become part of the sapwood , then the heart wood.. they are commonly referred to as gum or pitch lines. I buy my cherry out of Vermont and most if not all of the boards have some of this in them.. as has been stated above would love to pick the discard pile of a company that wont use any of it.. must be thousands of board feet of throw away cherry.. make ya want to cry.. I love working with cherry its just so beautiful when finished.. and those little lines and groves just add to its appeal when completed.. I have never had anyone complain about a finished piece and they all have some pitch lines in them.. How often do you come across a piece that was constructed of Spalted maple or flecked oak etc.. these are considered special because of their flaws.. I feel the same way about the cherry.. just makes it all the more original and appealing. just my thoughts.. have fun and keep your tools sharp.. Papa

-- Papa...

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2871 days

#9 posted 06-28-2012 04:16 PM

I think you may have boards with mineral deposits. I bought a few for this particular reason, the boards were covered in black streaks. My lumber guy referred to them “gummy”. I use them as a poor mans figured wood.

View WDHLT15's profile


1797 posts in 2711 days

#10 posted 06-29-2012 02:34 AM

I am with woodworker59 100%. What you are seeing is pitch pockets and it is a normal characteristic of cherry. I happen to love the figure and the color that it imparts on the wood. Dead, fence row cherry full of pitch pockets and pitch lines can be striking beautiful. I love to cut cherry on my sawmill.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Jim's profile


80 posts in 4312 days

#11 posted 06-29-2012 04:20 AM

One of the many beauties of working with wood is that it’s wood, not plastic or some other ‘perfect’ material. It has character that comes from being a living thing. It has survived droughts and floods, maybe fires, and bugs and storms. Embrace the ‘imperfections’, show them, design with them in mind. Ok, that’s my sermon for the day…

-- Jim,

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3286 days

#12 posted 06-29-2012 09:37 AM

The granular stuff is pitch pockets for which cherry is justly famous. Mineral streaks are just what happens to all wood. Cut around it (expensive) or accept it as character marks and use it to advantage. Cherry is too expensive to allow much pickiness. Learn to use it and bring it to glory.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3472 days

#13 posted 06-29-2012 12:15 PM

Don’t fight it, feature it.. Cherry sometimes has beautiful pitch patches. here’s a gunstock I carved with a piece of cherry laminated to some maple. This one was carved to be used as a pattern to make other stocks, so it won’t go to a customer, but everyone who’s seen it tried to buy it…

-- Hal, Tennessee

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