American Cherry vs European Cherry Wood: A Comparative Guide
Wood has been a fundamental material used in various industries throughout history. Different types of wood offer unique characteristics and aesthetics, whether for construction, furniture, or decorative purposes.
In the world of woodworking, cherry wood is a popular choice due to its versatility and beauty. However, there are two primary variations of cherry wood; American cherry and European cherry.
In this article, we will explore the differences between these two types of cherry wood, exploring their origins, properties, uses, and more.
American cherry, also known as Black Cherry or Prunus Serotina, is native to North America.
It’s primarily found in the eastern part of the United States and Canada, where it thrives in moist and well-drained soils. American cherry trees grow to an average height of 60-90 feet, with a straight trunk and a narrow crown.
These trees are known for their heartwood, which offers a range of colours, from pale red to deep reddish-brown, with hints of golden hues.
European cherry, scientifically known as Prunus Avium, is native to Europe, western Asia, and parts of northern Africa. It thrives in moderate climates and can be found in countries like France, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
European cherry trees are generally taller, reaching up to 100 feet. The heartwood of European Cherry varies in colour, ranging from pale pink to reddish-brown, often boasting a warmer tone than its American counterpart.
American cherry is known for its excellent workability, making it a favourite among woodworkers. It has a straight and uniform grain, allowing easy cutting, shaping, and sanding. This wood also offers good stability, exhibiting low movement when exposed to humidity and other environmental factors.
Additionally, American cherry has a moderate density and hardness, making it resistant to wear and tear. Its rich and warm natural lustre further enhances its aesthetic appeal.
European cherry shares similar properties to the American cherry but has subtle differences. It is considered slightly harder and denser, making it more resistant to denting.
European cherry tends to have a slightly tighter grain, adding a touch of elegance and refinement to the finished product. Its natural lustre is also noteworthy, creating an exquisite and luxurious appearance.
American cherry is widely used in the woodworking industry for both indoor and outdoor applications. Due to its attractive appearance and durability, it’s often used for furniture making, cabinetry, flooring, and interior trim.
The beautiful grain patterns add character to any piece, making it a favourite choice for traditional and contemporary designs. American cherry's stability suits it for exterior applications such as decking and outdoor furniture.
European cherry is highly regarded for its elegance and sophistication in decorative woodwork. It’s commonly used in high-end furniture, including cabinets, tables, chairs, and veneers.
The aesthetic qualities of European cherry, such as its warm reddish-brown tones and fine grain, lend themselves well to intricate carvings and ornate designs. This wood is trendy in luxury residential and commercial interiors.
Durability and Maintenance
American cherry's durability is good but not as robust as some hardwoods like oak or maple. Although less than European cherry, its hardness rating still offers ample resistance to scratches and dents, which is why it's used in applications like flooring.
However, it's worth noting that it is more susceptible to damage from high heels, pet claws, or heavy furniture if not adequately protected.
Additionally, American cherry requires regular maintenance to maintain its finish and prevent it from drying out due to its porous nature. A simple polishing schedule using non-abrasive, mild furniture polish can keep it looking vibrant and rich.
While sharing the exact beautiful grain and warm hue as the American cherry, the European cherry boasts a slightly superior hardness rating. This quality, along with its denser structure, offers it an edge in durability, making it less prone to scratches and dents.
However, European cherry, too, necessitates proper maintenance. Regular dusting, occasional deep cleaning with a damp cloth, and timely application of a wood conditioner can maintain the wood's integrity and aesthetics over time. It's always recommended to first test cleaning solutions on an inconspicuous area to avoid any potential discolouration.
The Impact of Ageing
Another fascinating characteristic of Cherry wood, regardless of its origin, is its unique ability to darken and enrich in colour over time. This natural ageing process, often called "patina," can give your cherry wood pieces an unparalleled depth and character.
American Cherry darkens from a light pinkish tone to a rich, deep reddish-brown over time when exposed to light. This change is often most noticeable during the first year of the wood's life and can add a unique, warm depth to furniture pieces. However, periodically turning or moving pieces is crucial to ensure even colouration, especially if exposed to direct sunlight.
European cherry undergoes a similar darkening process, with its warm reddish-brown tones deepening over time to reveal an even richer hue. This natural darkening process can add a layer of elegance and sophistication to European cherry pieces, enhancing their allure in traditional and modern settings.
Regarding sustainability, American cherry is generally well-managed and responsibly harvested. The United States Forest Service ensures sustainable practices to maintain the long-term health of cherry tree populations. This includes reforestation efforts and strict regulations on logging. Still, sourcing American cherry from reputable suppliers and prioritising sustainability is essential.
European cherry faces some challenges in terms of sustainability. The demand for this exquisite wood has increased logging and deforestation in certain regions.
However, responsible forestry practices and certification schemes, such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), help promote sustainable sourcing and ensure the wood is harvested from well-managed forests. Again, choosing European cherry from trusted suppliers that adhere to these sustainable practices is crucial.
Simplifying Your Woodworking Journey with Woodshop Direct's Easy Solutions
Both American and European cherry offer unique qualities and are highly desirable in the woodworking industry. At Woodshop Direct we stock American Cherry.
Whether you prefer the reddish-brown warmth of American cherry or the refined elegance of European cherry, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and the desired aesthetic for your project. Both types of cherry wood excel in workability, durability, and beauty, making them ideal choices for various applications.
Woodshop Direct offers a wide range of high-quality wood products, ensuring access to the finest materials for your woodworking projects. Browse our selection and bring your creative visions to life!