In your woodworking projects, you may come across requirements for making woodworking items out of cherry wood from time to time. Cherry wood is expensive and sometimes difficult to procure, and you might be compelled to search for cherry wood alternatives.
Cherry wood is one of the most sought-after types of wood in the world of woodworking and throughout the United States. However, it is not always available and is expensive. Fortunately, there are quite a few alternatives like red alder, maple, birch, and several varieties that either resemble cherry wood or you can make them resemble it through a suitable finish.
Alternatives to Cherry Wood
If you are faced with the challenge of finding alternatives to cherry wood, you can adopt two approaches. First, you can identify the wood similar to cherry wood like red alder, maple, and red birch.
The second approach is to take lighter woods like maple and stain them to resemble cherry. But you would also have to choose a wood with similar grain patterns to cherry to get a close match.
In practice, you would probably end up using a combination of both approaches to achieve the desired effect. Let us take a closer look at some of the alternatives to cherry wood:
Red alder or western red alder grows on the west coast of the United States. The trees are tall, and the tree trunks are moderately wide in diameter, growing up to diameters of 3 feet. It is not a very hard wood with a Janka hardness rating of 590 lbf.
Red alder is a light tan to reddish-brown wood, and like cherry, it develops a deeper and reddish color as it ages and gets exposed to sunlight.
If you want to have an alternative to cherry wood, you will do well to avoid the red alder that is a light brown color in preference to the reddish-brown shades of this wood.
The grain and texture of red alder are straight and fine, resembling cherry. But it may not be as durable as cherry wood, so it would be advisable to keep this wood indoors.
It is an easy wood to work with, but as we mentioned, red alder is considerably softer than black cherry at 590 lbf. Janka hardness rating compared with the Janka hardness rating of black cherry, which is 950 lbf. It is prone to getting abrasions, dents, and scratches easily.
Ultimately, if you want to procure as a substitute for cherry wood, you would have to source the clear variety out of the two different grades, clear and knotty. It works out a bit more expensive than the knotty type but is comparatively cheaper than cherry wood.
Also known as rock maple or sugar maple, these trees grow in the northeastern region of the United States. The trees are high at 115 feet and with tree trunk diameters of up to 3 feet.
Hard maple is considerably harder compared to cherry, with a Janka hardness rating of 1,450 lbf. The interesting part about hard maple is that the sapwood is used for lumber rather than heartwood.
The wood grain can be straight or wavy, therefore, as an alternative to cherry wood, you have a similar grain pattern. But being a light wood, you would need to exercise considerable skill in staining it to resemble cherry wood.
If stained well, hard maple could even serve better than cherry wood as its alternative due to its extreme hardness.
A last but important factor to consider is the tendency of maple to burn when subjected to high-speed blades due to the sugar content in the wood. Therefore, you would do well to regulate the speed of your cutting blades while cutting this wood.
Red birch is probably the most feasible out of all the cherry wood alternatives. This wood comes from the heartwood of the yellow birch tree, and it imparts a beautiful finish to any woodworking project that aims at an alternative to cherry wood. However, red birch is expensive.
The grain pattern is very similar to that of cherry wood. The only issue with red birch is that it does not darken when exposed to sunlight, unlike cherry wood. You may find some cases of sapwood in red birchwood sections, which appear as yellow patches.
A significant drawback of using red birch is that it lacks dimensional stability. But you can stain it well. So, if you want it to resemble cherry wood with a suitable shade of stain, you can do so.
Lyptus is a variety of Eucalyptus, more specifically, Eucalyptus urograndis. It grows on plantations in Brazil. The trees grow up to 100 feet with tree trunks of up to 1.2 feet in diameter. This wood is surprisingly hard, with a Janka hardness rating of 1,420 lbf.
Lyptus is a favorite alternative to cherry wood because it looks like cherry wood and Honduran mahogany. The advantage of using this wood is that it darkens with age as cherry wood does.
The wood has open pores and a medium texture, and Lyptus has a straight and even wood grain. Another advantage is finding fewer knots and abnormal grain patterns because this wood is cultivated and pruned on plantations.
It is moderately durable with fair resistance to decay but susceptible to insect attack. Lyptus is a wood that glues, stains, and finishes nicely. But it can burn quickly when high-speed blades are used on it.
Lyptus comes fairly cheap considering that it is an imported variety of wood, and it is more affordable than the more expensive grades of cherry wood.
Although we call this wood cherry (also known as jatoba), it does not belong to the prunus family to which cherry belongs. So, technically, Brazilian cherry is an alternative to cherry wood.
Brazilian cherry trees grow in Central America, southern Mexico, the northern region of the United States, and the West Indies. It is an extremely hardwood with a Janka hardness rating of 2,690 lbf.
Due to this extreme hardness and high density, you may find it challenging to work with. Brazilian cherry has a blunting effect on cutting blades.
Brazilian cherry can have an orangish tint, or it could be a darker reddish-brown. Some greyish-brown streaks may also be seen. You will be looking for a more reddish-brown shade of this wood if you want to make it resemble cherry.
Brazilian cherry has a typically interlocked grain and a medium to coarse texture. The natural texture of this wood adds to its resemblance to cherry wood.
Brazilian Cherry is Durable and Cheap
The advantage of using this wood is that it is probably more durable than cherry wood. It has a high resistance to rot, termites, and other insects, but it is prone to attack by marine borers.
As imported woods go, Brazilian cherry is relatively cheap and works out more affordable than the higher grades of cherry wood.
If you have a woodworking project that needs to look like a cherry wood cabinet but you are allowed some flexibility, there are many alternatives to cherry wood that you can use.
In this post, we have featured some of the most popular alternatives to cherry wood. If you dig deeper into the lumber market, you could probably find more viable alternatives.
Remember that you can make most woods that stain well resemble cherry wood with the requisite staining skills.
With so much going for the alternatives to cherry wood, you can surely do a great-looking project for any of the alternative types of wood featured here.