Cherry Butcher Blocks
When it comes to butcher blocks, the key is to use a durable and high-quality wood that is sure to be able to withstand years of cutting, cleaning, wet foods sitting on it, and, yes, sometimes even dropping it by accident.
Although there are countless wood materials out there to choose from, we’ve found cherry to be one of our all-time favorites not only because of its durability and versatility but also because of its natural beauty and overall high quality.
The question is, what makes cherry one of our go-to woods and why is it particularly effective for butcher blocks, cutting boards, and beyond? To answer this question, let’s take a look at what makes cherry wood so unique and why its strengths continue to outweigh its weaknesses time and time again below.
The Main Characteristics of Cherry Wood
Cherry wood is a prized material for woodworkers, contractors, artists, and designers alike. When cherry wood is first cut down, it’s color is a light pink and this color changes over time due to oxidation and UV light. This is why some cherry wood is bright and warm while other cherry wood is rich and dark. The one thing that all cherry wood product makers and buyers alike must keep in mind is that cherry wood is sure to change color as time goes on due to the ‘ripening process’ and this means that it may not match its surroundings in a matter of only six months to a year’s time.
When it comes to the actual texture of cherry wood specifically, cherry is a fine grain wood that is deciduous and sustainable in nature. It has a smooth finish and, depending on where the wood is cut from, you can either experience the softer and more malleable nature of the sapwood along the outside of the trunk or the firmer and more shock-absorbent nature of the heartwood in the center of each trunk.
Cherry is also highly popular for hardwood and furniture usage as it is not particularly absorbent and does not warp from water or other liquids sitting on it, and it has a natural lustre that adds to its beauty as well. Because cherry comes from the deciduous prunus serotina and not a coniferous tree, it is hard and dense in nature.
Although, on the Janka scale of woods, it is not quite as hard and dense as our other common materials, maple and walnut. This is actually not a bad thing as it means that it can absorb shock loads far more than other woods and its small pore texture makes it react great with the common liquids you would find on butcher blocks in a kitchen. This is also one of the main reasons we recommend cherry butcher blocks for cutting chicken and other meats as they won’t absorb the liquids and lead to salmonella poisoning or bacterial illnesses in the future.
Lastly, because cherry grows at a faster rate and does not require much attention, it is the 4th most produced tree on the market and one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly woods out there. With this being said, if you care about the environment and want something that is cost-effective, has a long lifespan, and comes from a sustainable source, cherry is your go-to wood.
What are the Most Common Uses for Cherry Wood?
Cherry wood is the 4th most produced wood in America right behind ash, oak, and poplar. It is most commonly used for furniture and hardwood flooring as it has a beautiful natural color and is easy to work with as well. You will also likely see a large amount of cherry being used for kitchen accessories, cutting boards, guitars, cabinets, countertops, car interiors, and record players as its rich color and fine porous structure makes it perfect for not only creating wood products but having them last for decades as well.
Because of cherry wood’s small and fine grain texture, it is a great hard wood to avoid water damage and its natural lustre means it does not need mountains of stain and lacquer to look and feel beautiful. In fact, cherry is a particularly smooth wood as well making it highly popular for desks and countertops specifically.
On top of this, you will also see cherry in plenty of ways in your kitchen from moulding and cabinets all the way to countertops and even bowls and utensils. Because of its beautiful natural color as well as its sustainability and accessibility, cherry is ideal for all kinds of household projects making it a number one choice for nearly all furniture, flooring, and cabinets within the homestead.
Lastly, as stated above, cherry is highly popular when it comes to instruments as it has a beautiful texture that makes it relatively impervious to water damage and warping. It is also capable of bending to fit intricate designs and shapes and its color is truly stunning on everything from guitars and basses to flutes and drum sets.
What is Cherry Wood Known for Primarily?
Since cherry trees are deciduous and easy to grow all things considered, they are primarily known for their sustainability and the fact that they are quite easy to work with for any and all wood projects imaginable. Their fine grain and shock absorbent nature allows them to be used for both indoor and outdoor furniture and products. On top of this, cherry wood’s aging process makes it perfect for all kinds of projects as it actually gets even stronger and richer in color as time passes.
Cherry wood comes from the American black cherry fruit tree and is incredibly versatile and durable compared to certain other woods on the market. According to Hearne Hardwoods, “Pennsylvania Cherry is considered to be one of the finest North American hardwoods…The Cherry tree is shade intolerant and is typically found on the outskirts of most forests. Cherry tends to average 1 to 2 feet in diameter- However we have had and seen Cherry logs up to 4 feet in diameter.”
While other wood material options take years to mature, the cherry tree is one of the fastest growing tree options out there making it highly sustainable and easy to supply nationwide. There are various grades to choose from but the older cherry wood options are best as they have less sapwood that is more malleable and soft in nature.
Cherry Wood’s Strengths and Weaknesses
All things in life have pros and cons, even cherry wood. While we personally have found that cherry wood is one of the best woods out there for cutting boards and butcher blocks, it is still highly important that we outline why exactly we came to that conclusion to begin with with our numerous clients in order to be as transparent as possible. After all, without scrutiny, how can you truly decide what makes anything ‘ right for the job?’
With this being said, below are the pros and cons to cherry wood in their entirety from our extensive research so you can truly pick the best option guaranteed.
The Most Common Strengths of Cherry Wood
There are countless strengths associated with cherry wood but the five main ones have been outlined below. These strengths are those most often discussed by woodworkers, designers, and contractors alike. If any of these things specifically appeal to you, then cherry wood is most certainly a good option for you.
One of the main reasons that cherry wood can be found in all kinds of industries is because of its overwhelming versatility. Unlike other woods out there that are best suited for very specific projects, cherry wood can be used for anything and everything from construction to art.
Cherry wood’s unique grain patterns and different colors make for a great and versatile material even in its appearance alone. On top of this, cherry wood’s density differentiation between the sapwood and heartwood means that you can use it both for bending and shaping instruments as well as making sturdy and durable furniture alike.
Although cherry wood doesn’t quite get a highly impressive rating on the strength scale compared to other popular wood materials out there, cherry still remains one of the strongest woods to utilize and it actually only gets even stronger during its ripening and aging process.
This makes cherry wood a great option for those looking to have a long-lasting wood that can withstand being dropped, dinged, and cut on for years to come.
- The Aging Process
Another major plus to cherry wood specifically is the way that its oxidation process actually makes the wood even more durable and shock absorbent over time. As the wood ages over the first six months alone, you are sure to see a change in its natural color and with this, comes a stronger and denser wood as well.
Because of this, most cherry wood projects last far longer than other wood material alternatives and they also become richer in color and denser in texture likewise. You also may even see even more natural lustre on your cherry products over time as well as they continue to react with the air for years after being cut and shaped.
Because of cherry wood’s mass production, the average cost of this material is far less than other woods on the market. Despite its high quality, it still stays in a reasonable price range making it perfect for those looking to get the best material for the lowest cost.
This is also why cherry wood is used often for building materials and furniture as its natural lustre, rich stained color, and high quality at half the price of other woods makes it ideal for contractors and woodworkers alike.
Although cherry wood is mass produced, the speed in which the cherry tree is grown, the water and other materials it needs to flourish, and the ease in which it can be cut down all make for a relatively sustainable tree. In fact, some lumber yards admit that cherry is one of the most sustainable woods they harvest and leads to the most bountiful returns.
With this being said, you can rest assured when using cherry wood that your products are sure to be far more environmentally friendly than other materials and will also withstand the test of time as well due to the durable nature of cherry. For individuals looking to reduce their carbon footprint, cherry wood is most certainly the way to go.
Now that we’ve analyzed exactly what makes cherry wood one of the best woods on the market for furniture makers, contractors, woodworkers, designers, and product innovators alike, let’s take a look at some of cherry’s pitfalls to weigh the pros and cons in the most effective way possible.
The Weaknesses of Cherry Wood
While cherry wood is one of the best woods to use for any and all products and projects, there are still a few things to consider when utilizing this material. Although we believe that the pros to cherry wood far outweigh the cons, we still felt it important to openly share them both with you so you can come to your own conclusions as an individual. In this way, we hope our transparency will allow you to make the best decision possible for your kitchen when choosing a long-lasting butcher block.
- Low Stiffness Level When Young
One of the more unique aspects of cherry wood is that it stiffens with age. This means that younger cherry trees consist of mostly what is called sapwood, or weak wood. With this being said, you must wait until a cherry tree matures before using it for most projects.
Fortunately, cherry trees mature far faster than many other wood materials making the maturity process relatively rapid in comparison. However, this is something to keep in mind when buying cherry wood products. You will want to look for heartwood that comes from the center of the trunk or at the very least ensure that the tree was fully mature so as to avoid warping and damage to your products.
- Requires More Care
Although cherry wood isn’t particularly porous, it does require more attention than other woods. While you can add wood finishes and lacquers to help this process, cherry is truly in its best form when it is all natural. This does require more care and means that you can’t simply chuck your cherry wood butcher blocks in the dishwasher but it also means that, with care, your product is sure to last far longer than others out there.
- Some Forms are Less Durable
As stated above, sapwood is the softer and younger wood that surrounds the heartwood of a cherry trunk. This wood is less durable, more porous, and more flexible as well. This is the wood that is often used for design, guitar body shaping, skateboards, and other products that require flexibility.
However, when it comes to products like butcher blocks, you will want to stick with the more mature heartwood. Fortunately, mature cherry trees don’t usually have this problem as even their sapwood is harder and more durable. Your cherry wood is also likely to strengthen even more over time meaning that a year old butcher block will actually be more sturdy than a brand new one.
- Becomes More Rich in Color Over Time
Although some individuals enjoy this particular aspect of cherry wood, others are not fond of the deepening of the cherry wood’s color over time. If you happen to prefer lighter woods, you would likely enjoy our maple butcher blocks far more as they are light and stay light over time.
- More Expensive Than Alternatives
Lastly, cherry wood butcher tend to cost more than your average plastic or even wood cutting boards at your local grocery store. You may even be able to find other wood butcher blocks online that boast that they are just as good as the more costly alternatives. However, what you must remember is that quality costs.
The positive side to this fact is that high quality butcher blocks last far longer than these cheaper alternatives and this is where their cost-effective nature becomes apparent. While you pay more upfront, you don’t have to keep replacing your blocks year after year due to cheap materials making it a far better solution in the long run.
With this being said, it’s no wonder why we chose cherry wood to be one of our main three woods to use for butcher blocks and cutting boards alike. Cherry wood is cost-effective, sustainable, durable, and has a natural beauty that simply can’t be matched. Considering that our main goal is to provide our customers with the best of the best, it just made sense that cherry wood would make the cut (pun intended). For more information regarding wood cutting board care, check out our in-depth article ‘Can I Clean My Cutting Board with Bleach?’ today!