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NOTE: there is rarely any "standard" or "typical" look for a wood so take what's in this table with a grain of salt
the REST of the pictures on this page will give you a better overall feel for this wood

American black cherry / Prunus serotina of the family Rosaceae


5" x 5" flat cut, 5" x 5" quartersawn, 3/4" wide end grain, and a 1/4" x 1/4" end grain closeup.

Diffuse porous with moderately strong rays and weak but noticeable growth ring boundaries. Ray flakes on quartersawn surfaces range from nonexistent to fairly strong, but quite small. The face grain of flat cut pieces is often quite distinctive and easily identified by those familiar with it.

A particularly attractive native hardwood that has long been a favorite of furniture makers. Among its several excellent features is that it ages more beautifully than almost any other wood, deepening to a rich golden brown.

(see fact sheet with "cherry, misc" for more details on cherry)


my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions


American black cherry plank


sample plank and end grain of American black cherry / Prunus serotina --- note the ray flakes on the side grain. The rather poor quality of this sample was fairly common among the samples I got from the IWCS


end grain closeup of the piece directly above, clearly showing the rays that cause the ray flakes (and you can see them even better in the end grain update directly below)


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of American black cherry / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of American black cherry / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of American black cherry / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


first face and the end grain of a sample of black cherry / Prunus serotina. This part of a collection which is discussed here: COLLECTION A


the second face, before and after sanding, showing how the patina from aging is only surface deep although in the case of black cherry, the rich brown from aging does mostly go deep into the wood.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above.


both sides of a sample plank of black cherry crotch / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of escarpment cherry / Prunus serotina var eximia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The escarpment cherry is a variety of Prunus serotina, which is what the "var eximia" means.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of escarpment cherry / Prunus serotina var eximia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The escarpment cherry is a variety of Prunus serotina, which is what the "var eximia" means.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of escarpment cherry / Prunus serotina var eximia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of curly American black cherry / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The curl is faint but present.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of "burl" American black cherry / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. I put "burl" in quotes because this is labeled as burl, but incorrectly. It's a crotch area and not even remotely a burl.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a small plank of American black cherry


end grain, end grain closeup, and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece direcly above --- I seem to have 3 different orientations of this piece in the 3 pics, but it IS all the same wood.


both sides of a small plank of American black cherry



end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a small plank of American black cherry


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


misc planks of American black cherry photographed at a lumber yard


planks shot at a lumber yard, listed as "premium" cherry. The second one is clearly curly --- HUGE enlargements are present.



pic taken at a woodworking store of planks labeled cherry, that I believe are American black cherry --- very large enlargements are present


both sides of a plank of American black cherry that has some white rot (the light areas, which are already punky) and what appears to be mineral stain (the dark areas)


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece direcly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


American black cherry plank contributed to the site by John Saxon of the Cedar Store, whom I thank for both this and for the excellent quality red aromatic cedar which he has sold me. This piece is planed but unsanded and has obtained a mild patina and as you can see it shows a weak broad curly or mottled figure (it's a little hard to decide what to call it sometimes with cherry).


a sanded section and end grain from the larger plank directly above. Notice how the color has changed quite a bit due to my having sanded off the patina, and the mottled figure has almost disappeared


end grain closeup of the piece directly above --- clearly shows the rays, perpendicular to the grain, that allow cherry to show ray flakes if quartersawn (not all quartersawn cherry will show ray flakes). In fact, the edge opposite the one you can see a little of in the end grain shot, had a very nice flake figure.


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


two sections of a very nice American black cherry plank that just came out of the surface planer --- the focus on these pictures was very good so I've left both levels of enlargement


an end chunk off of an American black cherry turning stick and the end grain


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


American black cherry plank and end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


a set of American black cherry slats. the top one shows some nice curly figure


American black cherry pen blank donated by Jim Glynn (thanks Jim)


one side and a closeup of a plank of American black cherry


the other side and closeup of the same plank as above --- this side shows a lot of sapwood


one side and a closeup of a plank of American black cherry


one side and a closeup of a plank of American black cherry


both sides of a thin-wood plank of American black cherry


face grain closeup of the piece directly above


American black cherry plank cut just seconds prior to this pic --- pinkish color is correct


a batch of small American black cherry curly planks and a closeup. The curl is very mild and the middle two are not curly at all


One of the most amazing pieces of American black cherry that I've ever seen, I shot this pic at a wood craftsman's studio in a small town that I was passing through. It's heavily slathered with a thick finish of some kind which is the cause of the remarkable red color, but what really stood out was the ray flakes. I have left in the very large enlargements on all three of these pics so you can see it up close. The plank was just over 8' tall and as you can see, had pith flaws down the middle


planks, and a closeup of the middle one, cut from a downed European black cherry tree that turned out to be spalted. Enlargements show the spalting much better. Image submitted by Gert Breugelmans whom I thank. Gert tells me that this is Prunus serotina (= American black cherry).


both sides of a sample plank of black cherry burl / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of black cherry burl / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Whether this should be called a burl or not is questionable, but I don't know what else to call it. LATER: I not have a couple of samples, shown directly below, that have similar spiky rays and black spots, and I'm calling it pippy, as I now see that on those samples and this one as well, the black spots do not reallyy look like burl areas.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of pippy American black cherry / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Mark had this as "black knot" figure, but it meets the defintion of pippy and "black knot" is just a descriptive term Mark used, so I have it as pippy. We don't know WHAT the heck caused (1) all those short "worm hole" constructs that are now filled with dust from my sanding and (2) the "black knot" spots (which seem to be a huge number of embedded tiny branches). This piece is in some ways very similar to the sample directly above this that is labeled as a burl but does not have the "worm hole" constructs, just some similar spiky rays that seem to make the black spots. The first face is freshly sanded, the second face is untouched.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of pippy American black cherry / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. See the comments with the sample directly above this one, which came from the same plank. The first face is freshly sanded, the second face is untouched.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of burled cherry, black / Prunus serotina --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Mark tells me that this particular form of burl is called "black knot" burl. There are several similar pieces directly above and I've been calling them variously "pippy" or just "burled"


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above




veneer



two pics of American black cherry veneer; the first (two pieces) is flat cut and the second is either rift cut or quartersawn and shows some of the tiny ray flakes that you sometimes see in cherry


quartersawn American black cherry veneer with very nice light salmon color, accurately shown


quartersawn thick American black cherry veneer (1/12th inch thick) with both heartwood and sapwood. The salmon color is more subdued and there is a more pronounced brown in this than in the sample above it, showing some of the range of color you can expect in cherry.


This is an American black cherry veneer piece, and I believe it is rotary cut but I found it in a 12-year old bundle in the garage and can't remember how it was described when I bought it. The color in the pic is just a hair richer than the actual piece. The richness of the color is at least partially due to the age of the wood. Cherry ages beautifully.


two pieces of thick (1/12th inch) American black cherry veneer. The piece on the left is heartwood in the middle, merging to sapwood and the piece on the right is all sapwood.


figured cherry veneer, color has slightly to much red tint


curly American black cherry veneer --- although the curl in cherry is never as pronounced as in some woods, it can be a little stronger than what is shown here. These pieces are, however, fairly typical of what you normally see in curly cherry.


curly American black cherry veneer with a fairly pronounced curl (for cherry)


sapwood veneer --- I'm pretty sure this is American black cherry.




Numerous pieces of veneer chosen for grain and color variations --- color correction was used and the colors are accurate except for the 4th pic and the last one (the 2nd quartersawn) which each have just a touch too much red. Note the significant degree to which the amount of reflection from the flashbulb varies from piece to piece. The ones with the most reflection tend to have a hard shiny surface and the ones with little reflection are more grainy. These were all taken under the same lighting.


misc American black cherry veneer pieces


flat cut American black cherry veneer pieces


flat cut American black cherry veneer --- HUGE enlargements are present. This part of a collection which is discussed here: COLLECTION D. This piece is from the new collection and did not have a number written on it, but there's no doubt as to what it is. Note the age patina on this piece compared to my other samples directly above which were photographed when relatively freshly cut.


quartersawn American black cherry veneer


a piece of veneer that spent some time on my mystery wood page before Brian Harrington pointed out to me that it is obviously cherry, with which I had to agree. Don't know why I didn't see that myself.


quartersawn flaky American black cherry veneer --- the first pic has a little too much red. The middle pic shows what can be considered heavy ray flakes for cherry, so I've left in both levels of enlargment. The others are more typical of ray flakes in cherry.


flaky American black cherry veneer and closeup


quartersawn flaky American black cherry veneer bookmatched pair


flaky cherry veneer sent to me by Steve Marshburn who was understandably confused about whether or not this even IS cherry, given that it has a strong flake pattern that is more like oak than cherry and in fact is unlike any other cherry flake either of us have ever seen before. The flake pattern is even stronger in the wood than it shows up here in these pics. Not sure what species of cherry this is, but Steve sells American black, so that's probably what it is.


mottled American black cherry veneer. Mottled figure is fairly rare in cherry and the mottle is quite weak. I've never seen it get much stronger than what is shown here, although I must say that the mottle figure shows up a little better in the wood that it does in the pics. The first piece in particular has what, for cherry, could be considered a strong mottle. As you can see, the mottle can occur in both quartersawn and flat cut.


larger mottled veneer sheets (American black cherry)


American black cherry veneer mixes showing some of the range of color you can expect in cherry --- both levels of enlargement are present for each so you can check out the variety up close. The pics were done in daylight so the veneer shows a darker color than would be the case had I taken individual pics up close under incandescent light as I normally do.


American black cherry veneer sheets with each having half moistened by mineral oil. These two sheets were chosen because even before the application of oil, they have a rich, but subdued, golden tan color and the oil shows how beautiful that can be when finished.

NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR
An exceptionally fine American black cherry cluster burl that was sawn to 3/4" and then resawn in half, bookmatched, and used as the top of a jewelry box. The pic on the left is the outside, showing the kind of really nice patina that cherry takes on with only modest exposure to even indirect sunlight, and the pic on the right is the inside of the box, showing the wood with only a finishing agent and no patina. NOTE: I have rotated and mirrored the "inside" pic so that it shows the wood in exactly the same orientation as the outside pic. HUGE enlargements are present. As I recall, the box top was about 14" across.



The Wood Book pics


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
cherry, wild black [=American black] (Prunus serotina) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views

web pics:

NOTE: there are a large number of pieces shown on the "cherry, misc" page that are most likely American black cherry but they have been left on that page because I don't have definite identification of them.


flat cut, quartersawn, and end grain


black cherry slab


black cherry plaques


black cherry figured plank


plank with wet and dry sections


American black cherry planks, flat cut


flat cut planks listed as "American" cherry but really that's just (in America at least) another name for American black cherry.


American black cherry planks, quartersawn


plywood (presumably American black cherry)


black cherry flat cut veneer


black cherry quartersawn veneer


veneer, all from the same vendor --- none of this was listed as curly, but some of it clearly IS curly


flat cut figured veneer


bookmatched quartersawn figured veneer


quartersawn figured veneer


black cherry quartersawn mottled veneer



crotch


black cherry crotch turning sticks


cherry crotch slab and closeup. The closeup shows a section which, taken by itself, could be sold as "gummy cherry" (which has its own page on this site) but as just a small section of the slab does not qualify the whole slab as gummy.


quilted plank and an upside down closeup


quilted plank and an upside down closeup




hollow forms


bowls with an unlikely green color


bowls shot at a woodworking show. Huge enlargements are present. I think the color on these pics is just a shade too red.


bowls


bowl shot in a craft store --- has a heavy oil finish and the heavy red coloring is correct, although I couldn't tell how much of it was the wood and how much due to the finish. The closeup shot is a little washed out.


bowl shot in a craft store --- has a heavy oil finish and the color is accurate


bowls shot in a craft store. Color is just a hair too yellow, but these bowls were not as reddish as most cherry bowls


bowl shot in a craft store; greenish-gray color is accurate


bowl shot in a craft store that sold mostly just wooden bowls --- color is very accurate and the gum streaks are very clear in the enlargements


burl bowls


cherry burl bowls shot at craft shows


bowl listed as black cherry


bowl by Kathy Marshall


American black cherry burl hollow form


platters; the last one is a crotch piece


elegant goblet turned by Al Amstutz




a cherry bed headboard made by a friend --- has excellent cathedral grain pieces arranged very pleasingly.




a black cherry dried-flower holder with natural bark inclusions. I found this piece of wood at a campground and was going to use it as firewood but as I examined the swirly indented areas I decided I'd try to use it in a project. This is the result and while hardly an outstanding example of wood craft, it does make a nice "natural" dried flower holder. The finish is polyurethane and the red color is correct.


side and back shots of the same object