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 to medium pores in no specific arrangement, numerous; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral/gum deposits occasionally present, though not easily visible with lens; growth rings usually distinct due to a concentration of earlywood pores; medium to wide 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:


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)


  1. kerrick December 28, 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    I’ve found that I break out in a rash whenever I work with black cherry. After further research, I discovered that reactions like mine are fairly common when working with black cherry.

  2. Jasper August 9, 2018 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Is the modulus of rupture too low for cherry to make a sturdy, reliable cane or walking stick?

    • Mike September 12, 2018 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Cherry makes a stout stick. Make your stick thicker than 3/4″. My straight-strong stick used for 7 years is 7/8″.

    • Daniel Cole December 29, 2018 at 11:19 am - Reply

      I make canes from half inch stock, laminate, and route. Extremely strong.

  3. Charles Beyer July 9, 2018 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Does Cherry have a distinct smell that would transfer to a food that is stored in a vessel made from it. It is not listed on the toxic chart so I’m thinking it has little to no irritants or allergy causing properties.

  4. Paul David Selby June 18, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    How do you think black cherry would be to turn for a pool cue as in the butt end not the shaft

  5. Mohamed Kamel June 13, 2017 at 5:32 am - Reply

    can i use cherry veneer to make skateboard deck ?

    • Silas Jura October 22, 2017 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      I wouldn’t recommend it. Cherry is on the lower end of the hardness scale. I would look at hard maple or hickory as it will hold up to the abuse of the skateboards much better. The maple will have a much more consistent color (mostly light colored) where hickory will have light and dark mixed in but is very, very durable (strongest wood in North America).

      Another thing you need to do is make sure the substrate you are attaching your veneer to is very strong and durable, otherwise your veneer will not hold up. For instance, if you use pine (a soft wood) under a hickory veneer, you will have wasted your money on getting a strong wood on top because the foundation below it is not very durable.

      Hope this helps,

    • Razedbywolvs December 16, 2017 at 1:07 am - Reply

      Veneer go for it, Solid not so much.
      Hardness might not be what your looking for for in a skateboard deck. As long as your core has the Tensile Strength you can put whatever you want on the top.

  6. Dan Andreescu April 25, 2017 at 9:54 am - Reply

    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: More info about that:

    • ejmeier April 26, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      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.

    • Kyle November 27, 2018 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      Those websites listing things poisonous to your pets are getting ridiculous & stupid anymore. It says clearly, “when ingested in toxic amounts” but doesn’t say anything at all about what a toxic amount is. Do a little research and you often find out it is some absurd, truckload type amount that is beyond realistic for anything to eat. In the right amount, water is toxic. Cherry is a very innocuous wood that has been used for cutting boards and kitchen utensils for centuries.

  7. Sam Cruz May 24, 2015 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Can someone I.D. this wood?

  8. Winter wood February 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    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 May 24, 2015 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      Can someone I.D. this wood?

      • Arthur Cooper March 22, 2016 at 7:09 pm - Reply

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

    • calz February 12, 2016 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Can someone I.D. this wood? ;)


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