Steamed Cherry VS Real Cherry General Woodworking
About this time last year, I bought some 4/4 maple to build my kitchen cabinets with, and while I was at the lumber place had a look at something I’d never seen before – steamed cherry. I asked for a sample to take home and they were kind enough to do that.
First thing I did when I got it in my shop was to plane it down a bit to see exactly what it looked like. Immediately, I could see it looked redder
than I’d remembered heart wood cherry being. I haven’t worked with a lot of cherry, but enough to say that the heartwood is more orange / brown than red.
So, the sample sat for nearly a year until I decided to use the wood for a small project, a wooden shuriken fidget spinner toy. Of course doing that reminded me of the colour difference, and I thought it would be interesting to compare it to the real thing. About 20 years ago I made a small cutting board from cherry and had been using it off and on ever since. It was well worn and in not great shape, so I figured I could resurface it and reglue the edge that had come loose; and while I was at it, compare it to the steamed cherry I had.
In this first picture the bottom of the cutting board has been planed down to fresh wood. I’ve done no processing with the picture to change it in any way, other than resize it to fit on this page:
Here’s the top after two passes:
Another from a slightly different angle on a different background:
I reglued the edge and sanded the cutting board smooth, then soaked in a coat of mineral oil to finish it. I also coated the steamed sample to compare:
Quite a difference, but is that a bad thing? Some may like the redder colouration of the steamed cherry better. I know one thing, it’s better than trying to cut the sapwood out to get consistent colour, speaking from a cost standpoint.
Here’s a video I made while doing the comparison: