Rich, red cherry is alive and well

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Recent and ongoing design trends tend to infer that light-hued hardwoods and painted materials rule consumer interest, but American cherry [Prunus serotina] has hardly gone out of favor, according to hardwood suppliers interviewed by Woodshop News.

Jerry Anton of O’Shea Lumber Co. in Glen Rock, Pa. says supplies and pricing of cherry have held steady. Most of his customers are interested in plain sawn over figured variations.

“We seem to be doing well with cherry and a lot of it is the really red cherry that’s selected because of the color. It did seem to dip off a couple of months ago, but it’s been picking back up. We’ve always had a pretty steady business with it, but it seems to be picking up. I know a lot of things are painted but I’ve been hearing the look of natural wood is coming back,” says Anton.

O’Shea Lumber is in a state that many say is the source of the finest cherry in the world. “We do get really nice cherry here for sure, but we sell it all throughout the mid-Atlantic area,” says Anton.

Scott Roberts of Roberts Plywood in Deer Park, N.Y., which offers cherry hardwood, plywood and veneer, says prices have gone down while the quality has gone up. And while its not moving as well as it did 10 years ago, sales have been quite steady over the past four to five years.

“Some people still do traditional work and are still using it for that. Sometimes people are using cherry and even painting it because it has great workability. It’s close to maple in pricing but a lot easier to work with. It’s better behaved. It’s more stable than maple,” says Roberts.

“And some people do want a more traditional look, but I had one guy mix cherry and bubinga together and it was absolutely stunning, although not a look for everybody. Another guy stains it to make it more chocolate in color.”

“When you have a selection of hardwoods, cherry still is a big seller,” adds David Norman of Parkerville Wood Products in Manchester, Conn. “We carry about sixty different hardwoods and cherry is still a big mover for us.

“We outsell poplar to cherry for sure, but that’s probably always been true because poplar’s a cheaper product. Walnut is bigger than cherry as far as trends. Walnut has replaced cherry as far as what everybody is going for when going for nicer woods.”

Plain-sawn 4/4 cherry retails for about $4.50/bf. 

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue.

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