Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

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Common Name(s): Black Cherry, Cherry, American Cherry

Scientific Name: Prunus serotina

Distribution: Eastern North America

Tree Size: 50-100 ft (15-30 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 35 lbs/ft3 (560 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .47, .56

Janka Hardness: 950 lbf (4,230 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 12,300 lbf/in2 (84.8 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,490,000 lbf/in2 (10.30 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 7,110 lbf/in2 (49.0 MPa)

Shrinkage:Radial: 3.7%, Tangential: 7.1%, Volumetric: 11.5%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light pinkish brown when freshly cut, darkening to a medium reddish brown with time and upon exposure to light. Sapwood is a pale yellowish color.

Grain/Texture: The grain is usually straight and easy to work—with the exception of figured pieces with curly grain patterns. Has a fine, even texture with moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Semi-ring-porous to diffuse-porous; small pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral/gum deposits occasionally present; growth rings usually distinct due to a concentration of earlywood pores; rays visible without lens; parenchyma absent.

Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as being very durable and resistant to decay.

Workability: Cherry is known as being one of the best all-around woods for workability. It is stable, straight-grained, and machines well. The only difficulties typically arise if the wood is being stained, as it can sometimes give blotchy results—using a sanding sealer prior to staining, or using a gel-based stain is recommended. Sapwood is common, and may contribute to a high wastage factor.

Odor: Has a mild, distinctive scent when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Breathing Cherry’s sawdust has been associated with respiratory effects such as wheezing. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Since Cherry is a domestic lumber, prices should be moderate, though it should typically cost more than oak or maple, usually close to the price of walnut.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Cabinetry, fine furniture, flooring, interior millwork, veneer, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Comments: Black Cherry develops a rich reddish-brown patina as it ages that’s frequently imitated with wood stains on other hardwoods such as Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). This aging process can be accelerated by exposing the wood (in a judicious manner) to direct sunlight.

Related Species:

Scans/Pictures:

Black Cherry (sanded)

Black Cherry (sanded)

Black Cherry (sealed)

Black Cherry (sealed)

Black Cherry (with sapwood)

Black Cherry (with sapwood)

Black Cherry (endgrain)

Black Cherry (endgrain)

Black Cherry (endgrain 10x)

Black Cherry (endgrain 10x)

  • Winter wood

    I have some Canada Red Cherry wood ( a type of ornamental tree) and was wondering if you wanted a sample of it even though it isn’t a common wood and is similar to black cherry. Also, I was wondering if cherry is usually problematic to dry.

    • Sam Cruz

      Can someone I.D. this wood?

      • Arthur Cooper

        Hard to tell. It’s stained so it could be any number of carvable species.

    • calz

      Can someone I.D. this wood? ;)

      [IMAGE REMOVED BY MODERATOR]

  • Sam Cruz

    Can someone I.D. this wood?

  • Dan Andreescu

    Thinking about building a baby crib out of Black Cherry. I have two hesitations. One is this low risk of the dust causing respiratory discomfort. For an adult that might be mildly annoying but do people think it’s a lot worse for a baby? I wouldn’t coat it with anything, maybe some natural oil?

    Another possible concern is this note that dogs and horses have died from eating fresh Cherry wood sap: http://www.birdsafe.com/woods.htm. More info about that: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/cherry/

    • ejmeier

      Dust shouldn’t be an issue in the finished product; it mainly comes up when it is worked in the shop.

      I wouldn’t worry about the sap part myself, but I guess it’s up to you. It’s my guess that the animals were eating some part of the living tree itself, and not dried wood.

  • Mohamed Kamel

    can i use cherry veneer to make skateboard deck ?