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Cherry Cabinetry


Holiday Kitchens uses only premium Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) for its Cherry cabinetry.  It is also commonly called Wild Black Cherry, Rum Cherry, or Mountain Black Cherry.  It derives its common name from the dark color of its fruit.  Cherry is a deciduous broadleaf hardwood.  It is the largest species of the rose family, and is known for its white blossoms, edible fruit, and superior lumber.  Black cherry trees have a distinctive fissured bark ranging in color from dark gray to black.  The leaves are simple, ovate to oblong in shape, 2 to 6 inches long, with finely toothed margins.  

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Black Cherry Leaves & Flowers
Black Cherry Bark
Black Cherry Tree


The black cherry is native to eastern North America, from Maine to Florida, extending westward just past the Mississippi River.  A variety also can be found in Texas and Mexico.  It has been naturalized into other parts of the world as well.  Holiday Kitchens harvests primarily cherry grown in the Appalachians.  Black cherry is a shade-intolerant species growing primarily in forest openings or along the edges of fields.  It will occur mainly as scattered individuals in second-growth hardwood forests. 

Range of Black Cherry


Black cherry trees will thrive in forests that have been clear-cut or burned, and are commonly cultivated as a second-growth forestry crop.  Black cherry trees can begin to seed as young as ten, though maximum seed production occurs on trees 30-100 years old.    Mature cherry trees are typically 60-90 feet tall, though some stands in ideal conditions can grow to heights of 120 feet.  Black cherry trees are moderately long lived, with some known to be nearly 260 years old, though typically mortality increases rapidly after 80-100 years.  Cherry trees can spread over 35-50 feet, and mature trees typically have trunk diameters of 4 feet or more.  Cherry is seldom grown as a primary lumber crop, and is generally harvested where secondary growth conditions have allowed it to thrive.  Harvesting for timber is generally done once the trees have reached 80 years or more in age.

Historically, cherry has been a premium wood for use in American furniture and cabinetry.  Even today, when cherry has been introduced onto other continents, nearly all quality cherry lumber is harvested in the United States.  In addition to fine furniture, cherry lumber is used in paneling, veneers, handles, crafts, toys, and scientific instruments. 

Wood and Grain Characteristics

Cherry is a close-grained hardwood with a smooth, even texture.  Sanding cherry brings forth a rich satin luster and extraordinary depth of grain that is captured well with Holiday’s finishing options.  The grain pattern of cherry is quite unique, with some pieces showing relatively straight grain and others showing bold, wavy arcs and bends.

Sanded Cherry Panel

Natural Wood Color

Cherry ranges in color from a light pinkish wheat to a hearty reddish brown.  Part of cherry’s beauty is that the color can be very complex, with subtle bands of color often running through the grain.  Holiday Kitchens sorts its cherry to ensure that the range of color is kept as tight as possible, but some natural variation in color is to be expected.  The outer portion of a cherry tree is composed of younger wood (called sapwood) which is much lighter in color than the wood at its center (called heartwood).  To maintain consistency, Holiday sorts out most sapwood and uses primarily heartwood.  Still, some small areas of sapwood will still be present.  Sapwood wider than 1 inch will not be allowed on the front of any part.

Another natural characteristic of cherry is the presence of small, dark spots in the surface of the wood, intertwined with the grain.  These are commonly referred to as pitch pockets.  These dark pockets of are slightly softer than the surrounding wood and will often dry at a slightly different rate than the rest of the wood, sometimes creating a slight depression even in well-sanded surfaces.  These pockets are a natural and expected characteristic of cherry, and will not compromise the strength of the wood or its finish. 

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Sapwood in Cherry
Natural Pitch Pocket in Finished Cherry

Cherry is very sensitive to ultraviolet light.  As it ages, it will naturally darken.  Direct exposure to light will speed up this natural color change.  As a rule of thumb, Holiday recommends that any additional pieces of cherry be allowed to naturally mellow to the color of the remainder of the kitchen, rather than trying to match the natural aged color of your existing cherry pieces.  In only a few months the color of new cherry will mellow to resemble the old, and the overall result will be much better than starting with a darker piece that mellows to an even darker shade. 


Cherry Color Changes from Exposure to Sunlight

Left: Exposed to Light  |  Right: Covered (not exposed to light)

Finishing Characteristics

Cherry stains very well, producing a deep, vibrant color that superbly highlights the natural grain.  Its luxuriant graining and satiny luster make it an excellent choice for most stains.  Holiday Kitchens offers a number of stains for use on cherry, ranging from traditional dark and deep reddish stains to lighter, more contemporary options.  Hand wiping works the stain into the wood and really brings out the natural beauty of cherry’s stunning grain patterns.  Spray/No-wipe stains, which are designed to absorb only into the top surface of the wood, do not work well on cherry, and Holiday Kitchens does not offer any unless a glaze is included to add depth.

Cherry has very deep grain structure which is not recommended for painting.  Holiday Kitchens only offers primers in conjunction with our Carriage House Vintage Artistry option, because the distinct telegraphing grain of cherry works very well with the aged paint look of this treatment.

Glazing is a striking and beautiful way to add even more depth and color to cherry.  Glaze will hang up well in the natural grain patterns of cherry, helping the attractive grain patterns stand out even more than with just a stain. 

Cherry works very well with all Vintage Artistry treatments.  The aged look provided by Vintage Artistry fits will with the classical feel of cherry, presenting an antique appearance.

Wood Quality

Knots are to be expected in cherry, and, because cherry is harvested when the tree is mature, knots can be quite large in size.  Holiday Kitchens sorts its cherry to exclude any knots that are greater than 1/2” across on the front of any solid wood component or any veneered cherry component.  On the back of solid wood components, knots up to 1” across are allowed.  All knots will be sound (that is, they do not move) and solid (that is, flush across the surface).  On the front of any cherry parts, you should find no more than 2 knots per square foot of material.  Knots may be clustered, but the total number should not exceed the amount allowed based on the total square footage of the component.  There is no limit on the number of knots allowed on the backs of components.  Cherry frequently has pin knots.  These are small knots (less than 1/8” across) that can occur singly or in tight clusters.  Holiday doesn’t exclude any lumber based upon pin knots, as they are normal and expected in cherry.

Mineral streaks are commonly found in cherry.  In general, mineral streaks are small (only a few inches in length for the longest) and narrow.  These mineral streaks tend to match the pattern of the grain, and are seldom obtrusive.  Cherry often has small gum pockets (also referred to as pith pockets or pitch pockets).  These are normal and to be expected on cherry.  Bark pockets, soft spots, decay, wormholes, and excessive grain stain are all considered defects in cherry and are sorted out by Holiday Kitchens. 

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Typical Sound Knot in Cherry
Typical Pin Knots in Cherry
 Typical Mineral Streak in Cherry

Cabinetry and Furniture

Cherry has a long history as a premier hardwood in American cabinetry and fine furniture making for a reason.  It is a durable wood with a beautiful grain pattern.  It is easily worked and sanded to a satin smoothness and takes most finish treatments very well.  Cherry cabinetry is a natural choice, available in both classic styles and treatments and in contemporary colors and options.

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