Is Cherry Wood Expensive? Why It Depends

Is cherry wood expensive for your next woodworking needs?

It all depends on what other types of wood you’re comparing to. For instance, if you’re comparing cherry wood with sandalwood or African blackwood, then cherry wood is much cheaper. This is probably because cherry is widely available and can be found practically anywhere.

You can readily purchase this hardwood from distributors to big box stores near you.

However, if you’re comparing cherry wood with other similar types of timber like maple or oak wood, then cherry wood is expensive.

And with good reasons which we’re going to explore in today’s post. But before we do that, let’s get an understanding of what this type of wood is all about.

What’s Cherry Wood

The cherry tree, a member of the genus Prunus, is a perennial tree in the family Rosaceae grown for its fruit, the cherry.

Interestingly, while the cherry fruits are quite delicious, a majority of the trees are used for their lumber more than their fruits. This is especially true for the black cherry tree whereas the vast majority of the cherries we eat come from the sweet cherry tree.

The bark of the cherry tree which is used to make wood is gray-brown, smooth, and glossy, and it often peels with maturity.

Types of Cherry Wood

Black Cherry

Black Cherry, or Prunus serotina, has been used for a variety of things throughout history. While the fruits are edible, the most common use is making fine furniture and cabinets.

Some decades ago, this wood type was often used as a substitute for mahogany.

Black cherry is usually a light pink color to dark red-brown, though the color will darken with exposure to sunlight.

It’s the wood you’ll find in any lumberyard selling cherry. Besides, the wood has impressive dimensional stability and a Janka hardness rating of 950 lbf.

Sweet Cherry

Sweet Cherry, also known as Prunus avium is not as popular as black cherry wood for several reasons.

First and foremost, it’s favored for fruit production rather than its lumber. Secondly, the sweet cherry trees are mostly dwarf which means you get fewer wood panels per tree.

Nonetheless, sweet cherry wood has a superior hardness to that of black cherry with a Janka rating of 1,150 lbf. This means that it is one of the most durable types of wood on the market. It can withstand a huge amount of wear and tear.

The sapwood is pale yellow while the heartwood is light pink-brown when freshly cut. The color deepens to golden brown when exposed to light with time.

Why is Cherry Wood Expensive?

As we’ve already established, Cherry wood is probably one of the most expensive wood in the market rivaled only by African blackwood and sandalwood.

Generally, you can expect to pay between $7 and $25 per board foot depending on the quality and form. This is in contrast to the industry average of $5 to $15 per board foot of other woods such as oak wood and maple.

But why is cherry wood expensive when it’s widely available in the U.S and most parts of the world? It’s most likely because of its versatility, workability, and the wood’s warm tones.

Here are more reasons why you’ll have to pay top dollar for this premium piece of lumber:

Versatile in terms of usage

Cherry wood is probably one of the most versatile lumber in the world. Since time immemorial cherry was used as a substitute for mahogany in making fine furniture and cabinets.

Today, cherry wood is used to make high-end furniture, flooring cabinets, boat interiors, millwork, paneling, and face veneer. It’s also used for professional and musical instruments such as violins and pianos.

Other notable uses include wooden ware, novelties and toys, patterns, doors, and carvings.

This is one of the reasons why cherry wood is expensive.

Clear Finishing

One of the reasons why woodworkers delight in working with cherry is the overall texture. The cherry wood takes a clear finish.

Besides, the wood has a straight-grain, uniform, satiny, fine, and smooth texture. It also has a moderate natural luster.

After finishing, the wood takes a much crisper edge since the wood doesn’t have knots or kinks which disturb the smooth surface.

Wood Strength

At 12 percent moisture content, cherry weighs 34.9 pounds per cubic foot making it an intermediate to lightweight species. However, it is a relatively strong wood for its weight. Besides, the wood has a medium ability to resist shock loads.

As already established, the most widely used piece of lumber is black cherry with a Janka hardness rating of 950 lbf. Furthermore, the sweet cherry is even stronger with a hardness rating of 1150 lbf.


Whether you’re working with hand tools or machines cherry has got great workability, mainly due to its straight-grained qualities. It’s hard enough to a crisp line but soft enough not dull the blades of your tools.

Hence, cherry wood is one of the best woods for turning, planing, shaping, and boring. However, make sure the cutting tools are sharp enough. If they aren’t, or the feed speed is slowed, there is a tendency for the wood to burn.

So, is cherry wood expensive? Yes, of course. Is the workability worth it? Hell, yeah.


One of the most important characteristics of any wood for making high-end furniture is the ability to withstand environmental pressures for a prolonged period without wearing out.

Cherry wood stands the test of time since it’s very resistant to rot and decay especially heartwood. This is the main reason why this wood is suitable for flooring amongst other uses.

Wide Range of Colors

Cherry is one of the most beautiful and highly prized woods. When first machined, the heartwood color can range from light pink to a darker red color. Simply put the wood is usually reddish-brown with a golden hue, although when it is freshly cut it is paler.

Its oxidization creates the popular rich brown-red over time which most people find breath-taking! Also, the sapwood of the cherry tree has a pale yellowish color.

This wide range of colors gives woodworkers several options to explore.


Cherry wood is a delight to work with because it’s easy to cut, carve, and mold.  This level of flexibility is what makes the wood appropriate to be used for many different applications.

Besides, cherry has medium density and good bending properties, as well as low stiffness.


There you have it!

So, if you’ve ever wondered whether or why is cherry wood expensive, then you’ve got the answers hopefully. But most importantly, the cherry’s flexibility, an array of colors and patterns, and other physical properties make it one of the most versatile woods to use in a range of applications.

Hence, the cost implication.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and if you’ve found this article helpful, consider giving it a share.


The Purdue Arboretum