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:

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)

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John wingfieldJacob StraussJohn CloerChase RennerPaul Fuge Recent comment authors
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John wingfield
John wingfield

I have about 30 or so wild cherry trees on my property. Is the wood safe to use for firewood or cooking?

Jacob Strauss
Jacob Strauss

I know from experiences lichtenberg burning black cherry that if you brush on a solution of around a teaspoon of baking soda per cup of water, the solution will make the heartwood of most pieces a vibrant orange color. Some slightly figured pieces may develop more discoloration in some areas of the figuring, which can look a bit unattractive. But for the most part, it makes the wood on the surface quite beautiful, and if you don’t like it, you can always sand it away later. Also, the same thing can be done to pretty much any other wood to… Read more »

Chase Renner
Chase Renner

I’m located in Florida where spearfishing is very popular. I was considering making a speargun out of black cherry but I am worried about the constant shock and and stress on the wood from firing and reloading. Will this wood be able to withstand this type of stress for a long period of time?

John Cloer
John Cloer

For rot resistance it would do well, but it is relatively soft (950) so it may not do so well with regards to elasticity from draw weight and shock of release.. I have seen mahogany used for spearguns, and some types of mahogany are similar in hardness to cherry, so..Give it a shot! (No pun intended) Since you’re in Florida, osage orange might be a good option, rot resistant and is used to make bows.

Michael Stiennon
Michael Stiennon

In direct sunlight, unstained cherry will bleach almost white. On the other hand if it is in a room with synthetic carpet the chemical vapor from the carpet will shortly turn unvarnished cherry a very pleasing dark red “cherry” color. Best look, imho, comes from indirect lighting, no carpets, but takes many years.

Dennis
Dennis

Would you recommend using an oil finish like water lox if so how would you prep the before putting on the oil

Billybob
Billybob

This site puts Black Cherry in the highest rot resistance category. I’m in the building industry, and have never heard of cherry being used for exterior conditions. We are considering various wood species for vertical cladding on the exterior of a masonry building. Is cherry a good option? I’m skeptical. If it’s highly rot resistant, and less expensive than ipe or mahogany, then why don’t we see it being used for this type of application…..ever?

Paul Fuge

Black cherry sapwood in not rot resistant at all, Most cherry is sawn for grade and nearly all boards contain sapwood often both faces. If lower grade larger logs are sawn to exclude sapwood and further manufacture eliminates sapwood in the product, fencing, cladding, furniture, cherry is an excellent exterior wood. My company has been using it outdoors for 40 years. Live sawing cherry logs is a simple way to emphasize heartwood due to the higher percentage partially rift, rift, and quartered wood produced. The pieces do not have to be clear or without resin pockets to perform well outdoors

Jeff
Jeff

Is Black Cherry and Cherry the same thing?

MATTHEW DUFFY
MATTHEW DUFFY

Can I get some input into why cherry isn’t used for baseball bats?

Joseph Palas
Joseph Palas

For a baseball bat, Cherry would be too soft (denting) and does not possess enough shock resistance (against cracking/splitting), compared to a wood like Ash or Hickory.

Kevin Cole

I have 20 acres and about 1/3 of the trees are black cherry-the remainder is maple, oak, black walnut and sassafras. I uses the black cheers for four different things. I find the trees themselves to be rather brittle. a windstorm or heavy snowfall results in limbs becoming detached from the tree. These are about 8-18″‘s in diameter and 20-40’ long. I use the straight segments for lumber-air dry and cut into cant with my chainsaw-3 years drying on racks in my barn. I used the planks for furniture-table, cabinets etc I use the shorter fat segments to make wooden… Read more »

kerrick
kerrick

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.

Jasper
Jasper

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

Mike
Mike

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
Daniel Cole

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

Charles Beyer
Charles Beyer

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.

Paul David Selby
Paul David Selby

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

joseph palas
joseph palas

I believe it would likely lack heft (weight) if used as a pool cue butt. If the stock is particularly heavy, it could work and work well.

Mohamed Kamel
Mohamed Kamel

can i use cherry veneer to make skateboard deck ?

Silas Jura
Silas Jura

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… Read more »

Razedbywolvs
Razedbywolvs

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.

Dan Andreescu
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: https://www.birdsafe.com/woods.htm. More info about that: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/cherry/

Kyle
Kyle

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.

Sam Cruz
Sam Cruz

Can someone I.D. this wood?

joseph palas
joseph palas

It is Black Cherry.

Winter wood
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
Sam Cruz

Can someone I.D. this wood?

Arthur Cooper
Arthur Cooper

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

calz
calz

Can someone I.D. this wood? ;)

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