What type of wood is this? Cherry, Chestnut, something else?

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Forum topic by macintosh posted 09-01-2009 03:29 AM 2524 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View macintosh's profile


5 posts in 3367 days

09-01-2009 03:29 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood identification cherry chestnut reclaimed barn boards

Hello everyone -

First-timer – and the wife (go easy on me). So, please forgive any mistakes I may make – I have no clue what I’m doing and am certain to use the wrong terminology. I’m hoping you guys can help us identify the treasure we’ve stumbled upon.

We have no idea what species of wood this is, but it is beautiful. Can you please help us identify the species? We asked a few folks and we’ve been told – cherry or chestnut. What do you think?

Here are the pieces of the puzzle…

  • reclaimed from a barn on our property in central North Carolina. The barn was built somewhere between 1930 and 1950.
  • we’ve got boards and beams – 2”x10”x12’ and 4”x6”x10’, some boards are 1”x12”x17’
  • had a grey/white exterior, once the top layer was planed off, a reddish-brown interior was uncovered
  • has lots and lots of worm holes/tracks

Following are some photos of the wood. These were taken outside on a rainy- overcast day, with and without a flash. It started to sprinkle, so please disregard the raindrops. We applied an oil-based polyurethane to the wood to get an idea of what it would look like sealed. The pictures capture the wood in several stages.

  • exterior
  • exterior sealed with polyurethane
  • fresh cut wood sealed with polyurethane
  • fresh cut wood without sealant
  • end cut

This picture is of the wood in several phases. Photo was taken with a flash. The top board is of the exterior – with and without sealant. The middle board is the fresh cut lumber sealed. The bottom board is the fresh cut lumber not sealed.

This picture is the same as above, but without the 3rd board. Just exterior and fresh cut (sealed). With a flash.

This picture is a close-up of a knot on the fresh cut side, not sealed. With a flash.

This photo is of the end of the board. Not sealed – drop of water in the top corner. No flash.

This one is of the fresh cut, sealed board. No flash.

And lastly, this is of the fresh cut sealed (on top) and not sealed (on bottom). No flash.

Any help you can offer to help us ID this wood would be awesome. I am dying to find out!

-the wife

13 replies so far

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3890 days

#1 posted 09-01-2009 03:38 AM

looks like alder to me, but it could be old cherry. they do call alder the poor mans cherry.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View patron's profile


13635 posts in 3518 days

#2 posted 09-01-2009 03:46 AM

good find ,
i’m going with cherry .

how dense is it ?
alder is a little lighter than cherry , generaly .

but i’m no expert , except with pine , cheap pine !

welcome to LJ’s .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3447 days

#3 posted 09-01-2009 04:10 AM

Beautiful grain…looks like cherry to me also…the test of course is how dense it is (heavy)....but it looks alot like the cherry I just resawed for a humidor….

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3462 days

#4 posted 09-01-2009 04:23 AM

I agree with Roper, Looks like alder to me. In the first picture, third board where it is fresh cut. The color, grain and knots looks alot like alder. Just guessing though. Welcome to Lumber Jocks.

-- John @

View a1Jim's profile


117282 posts in 3754 days

#5 posted 09-01-2009 04:27 AM

I go with Cherry also.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3767 days

#6 posted 09-01-2009 05:19 AM

It looks more like alder then cherry, but it also resembles redwood.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3719 days

#7 posted 09-01-2009 05:55 AM

could it be Hickory? Not sure, but I don’t think it’s either cherry or alder

-- Childress Woodworks

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3658 days

#8 posted 09-01-2009 06:21 AM

I’m with Childress, I think it’s hickory.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View knotscott's profile


8141 posts in 3553 days

#9 posted 09-01-2009 11:10 AM

Looks like cherry to me…I’m not real familiar with alder.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View WibblyPig's profile


172 posts in 3451 days

#10 posted 09-01-2009 01:03 PM

Sort of looks like cherry and I don’t know enough about alder to say yes or no. However, cherry darkens with exposure to the sun while alder doesn’t.

Plane, sand and finish a piece of wood then tape a piece of thick paper over one half of it. Put it in the sun for a day or two and then remove the paper. If the exposed side is noticeably darker, it’s probably cherry.

-- Steve, Webster Groves, MO "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3905 days

#11 posted 09-01-2009 01:14 PM

wibbly beat me to is my 5 minutes. the sun will tell you whether it is cherry.

View macintosh's profile


5 posts in 3367 days

#12 posted 09-01-2009 01:15 PM

Hi everyone – thanks for all the replies.

I don’t know much about alder, but I don’t think it is a common tree in North Carolina.

I went out and took some pictures of the bark this morning. This bark is on one of the beams. Maybe this will help as we continue to unravel the mystery wood. Thanks again for your help!!!!! I’m thrilled with the response and was anxious to read your replies this morning.

Have a great day -
- the wife

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 4083 days

#13 posted 09-01-2009 01:52 PM

Not cherry. My stab in the dark would be sweetgum.

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