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Cherry sales level off during recent ‘lull’

Hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News agree that the demand for cherry has dwindled in the last decade, but it is still a pretty good mover.

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Rick Hearne of Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford, Pa., says his cherry sales are doing just fine, in part because of the vast selection of wide boards and figured slabs he has in stock.

“Since most of our customers for cherry are small-shop furniture builders, our cherry sales never fell off. Even though for the industry cherry has been out of favor for the last 10 years, as a result the quality of the cherry available is very high,” Hearne says.

“Ten years ago if you were ordering cherry lumber there would be a lot of sapwood in it because the lumber was being produced from the logs that were not going to veneer or export. Since the export market has died, those logs have gone to the sawmills to be turned into grade lumber. As a result, the lumber has very little sapwood connected with it. And you’re able to get good wide widths and wide lengths.”

Greg Engle of Certainly Wood, a veneer supplier in East Aurora, N.Y., says that the call for figured cherry has diminished recently. Instead, buyers are specifying an architectural grade, plain- or quarter-sliced, without figure.

“The trends are moving away from the figured stock in cherry right now and are going for a cleaner, better balance to grades of plain-sliced and uniform quarters with a nice linear grain,” Engle says.

“Cherry’s very easy to get in today’s market. Since 2013 there’s actually been a decline in the sale of cherry. There hasn’t been this type of lull for a while. What’s driving the market today is North American black walnut.”

Doug White of Doug White Hardwoods in Marissa, Ill., has seen a recent surge in cherry sales. He’s also noticing demand for clear variations, especial for flooring and architectural millwork projects.

“We’ve been selling a lot more cherry, but I think it’s kind of just a freak thing. We’ve got three different customers with houses going right now who are using cherry. It’s more a desired wood at the moment. I don’t think it’s nationwide. I think cherry has seen its better days but, for us, it’s great.”

Retail prices for FAS 4/4 cherry start at $5/bf and can be significantly higher for wider boards.

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue.

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