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Cherry sales steady as housing improves slowly

Sales of cherry are steady for the most part these days, according to lumber dealers interviewed by Woodshop News who also say supplies are increasing because of improvements in the U.S. housing market.

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Greg Engle of Certainly Wood, a veneer supplier in East Aurora, N.Y., notes that quartersawn and highly-figured cherry are moving extremely well.

“It’s all designer-driven,” he says. “All of our cherry inventory is put into special projects for designers looking for something that has a wow factor or something that’s extremely uniform close-grained like the quarters that we’re selling. Color-wise, the primary focus for what we’re getting asked for are the light pink tones of Eastern cherry as opposed to the Midwest cherry that seems to be a little bit darker in color.

“Of course, pitch-free is always the key to the success of selling any cherry, it seems. Pitch is the name for the black dark pockets that show up in cherry. They are common, but considered defects by certain buyers.”

Lee Stitzinger, of BWP Hardwoods in Brookville, Pa., says cherry sales are OK, but not as strong as in the past. He says the current demand stems from a change in taste for the pinkish color of the wood.

“Cherry has always been a minor species and it’s always been held as a prestigious species because it is a minor species. It’s only 2 percent of the hardwoods used and people feel proud to have cherry. But some of that went by the wayside where many individuals of today’s generation are not looking at it that way now. They’re not looking at heirlooms; they’re looking at what they can afford now and what looks good.

“But I do think cherry will always be a sought-out species because of its properties. I think cherry will trend back. I don’t think it will be as strong as it was in the past, but it will come back,” Stitzinger says.

“Sales are better and we are seeing a lot of the cherry we sell go towards cabinetry and millwork projects,” adds Paul Dow of Yoder Lumber Co. in Millersburg. Ohio. “Everyone’s a little bit busier now so everything’s picked up.

“Cherry’s got wonderful properties. It machines very well, finishes very well. It’s a very good wood. The problem is that the brown woods were more popular than the redwoods for a while. Walnut was very, very strong for a long time and cherry is getting better than it has been.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue.

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