Cherry and beech wood both offer distinct advantages for woodworking.
Cherry wood, known for its fine, straight grain and rich reddish-brown color, is a popular choice for high-quality furniture and cabinetry. It is easy to work with, takes stain well, and ages beautifully.
Beech wood, on the other hand, is characterized by its light color, uniform texture, and strong, close grain. It is a more cost-effective option, favored for its durability in applications like flooring, countertops, and kitchen utensils.
Ultimately, the choice between cherry and beech wood depends on the project’s aesthetic, budget, and functional requirements.
Cherry vs Beech
Natural Cherry is a coveted wood for making furniture in the United States. You will find it in every furniture shop and lumberyard across the country. The most popular species is black cherry which is well-known for its unique color and aging properties. Although black cherry starts as a pale-colored wood, it darkens to a reddish-brown over time. You will find kitchen cabinets often made from cherry wood which is a superior type of wood.
Beech is a hard type of wood but splits easily. It has a straight grain and it is more common in Europe and although you will find it growing across the United States today. We use it for carpentry, joinery, and structural purposes rather than for furniture.
Beech also plays a part in making musical instruments for building pianos and making drums. Although cherry is more expensive than beech and beech isn’t very attractive you can stain it to make it look like expensive wood which puts it on par with cherry by way of appearance.
The most popular cherry wood in the United States is black cherry (Prunus serotina) which we also call American cherry. You will find it growing in the Eastern United States. The trees grow as high as 100 feet with tree trunk diameters that reach up to 5 feet.
Cherry has a reddish-brown heartwood but with a pale, almost white sapwood. It is an all-around wood for various types of furniture, flooring, panels, cabinets, and many other applications.
You can stain and finish cherry easily and sometimes you can finish it with only oil. Cherry ages well and becomes a dark, reddish brown on aging. Although it is sustainable, this wood is costlier than other hardwood varieties. If you click HERE, you can get more information on Cherrywood.
If you are interested to know how to apply a finish to cherry wood, we provide the details in another interesting post.
Beech wood is relatively hard but is prone to splitting. It is plain wood without a very remarkable grain pattern. However, it is a tough type of wood and useful for making all sorts of rough work like joinery, framing, and providing structural support.
Because beech is not a very aesthetic wood, you won’t find it in prominent places in plain view. It is also not as durable as cherry and will not resist being placed outside if exposed to the elements, and is prone to insect attack. However, we also use beech for making pianos and a variety of furniture. You can stain beech to make it look like expensive hardwoods like cherry.
Cherry vs Beech: Appearance
Cherry is a light, pinkish wood to start with but will darken with age as it gets exposed to light. The demarcation between the heartwood and sapwood is quite prominent and woodworkers take advantage of this to make the wood more attractive. Cherry has a straight grain with some curl and figure patterns. The texture of the wood is fine and smooth and it has a natural but moderate luster.
Beech is more of a utilitarian wood rather than one that is used for its looks. You can steam beech to make it darker and more attractive. Beech comes in different textures and it makes good veneer. But you need to be careful while staining this wood because tends to become blotchy. Therefore, you would need to use a clear finish which works best with this wood.
Cherry vs Beech: Durability
Cherry is particularly durable for indoor applications. With a Janka hardness of 950 lbf. it is fairly hard and resistant to abrasion, scratches, and dents. Cherry is not an outdoor wood and if left outside will soon deteriorate.
Beech, on the other hand, is fairly harder than Cherry with a Janka hardness rating of 1,300 lbf. It is durable and long-lasting and you can make some quality furniture and cabinets, especially if you add a suitable finish. Here again, beech doesn’t scratch easily but is prone to attack from insects. Therefore, like cherry, you cannot use beech outdoors.
Cherry vs Beech: Maintenance
Because cherry becomes a deep, rich, reddish-brown when exposed to sunlight you need to be careful where you place cherry wood furniture. If you have cabinets in front of windows, you need to take care to avoid exposing them to too much sunlight to avoid dark patches from developing.
Beech and cherry both tend to accumulate grime over time so you need to wash and polish them frequently. Refinishing cherry and beech every few years can enhance the life of the wood.
Cherry vs Beech: Workability and Uses
Cherry makes a good all-purpose wood for woodworkers. The stable, straight grain works well with hand tools and machines alike. Like beech, it can form blotches while applying a finish, so it is recommendable to sand and then use a sealer or gel-based stain before you add the final finish.
Cherry is good for flooring, cabinetry, and millwork, and it makes all types of furniture, turned objects, and wall paneling. You also get specialty wood articles from cherry.
Beech is another that is easy to work with and it finishes, turns, and glues well. It also responds to steam bending and you can make a variety of furniture with beech. It is also good for flooring, veneer, musical instruments, crates, pallets, railway ties, and a variety of turned objects.
Cherry vs Beech: Price
Cherry lumber and veneer are quite easily available but you may end up paying a high price for black cherry. It is premium hardwood lumber that we use for making cabinets.
Beech on the other hand is cheaper than cherry. It is one of the cheapest hardwoods and is commonly available across the United States. But beech plywood could turn out to be a bit expensive, depending on the grade. In certain instances, it could be even more expensive than particular grades of cherrywood.
Cherry vs Beech: Sustainability
Both these varieties of wood are sustainable and do not appear on any of the lists of endangered wood species.
Cherry vs Beech: Any other characteristics
Beech doesn’t have any unique characteristics. Cherry however is a good choice for meat smoking and for smoking various types of foodstuffs.
Cherry vs Beech: Comparison Table
|Botanical name||Prunus serotina||Fagus grandifolia|
|Color||Coppery to reddish-brown||Pale cream color|
|Durability||Moderately durable||Mechanically durable but no resistance to rot or insects|
|Hardness (Janka Scale)||950 lbf.||1,300 lbf.|
|Strength||Moderately strong||Strong wood|
|Maintenance||Easy to maintain||Less maintenance|
|Price||Expensive||Moderately priced except for beech plywood|
|Suitability for outdoors||Not suitable for outdoors||Not suitable for outdoors|
|Suitability for wood carving||Yes||Yes|
|Workability||Easy to work with||Easy to work with|
|Smell||Mild scent while working||Odorless|
|Availability||Easily available||Easily available|
|Special features if any||Excellent for smoking meat||Nothing significant|
When it comes to these two commonly-used kinds of wood, woodworkers are likely to turn to cherry as their preferred choice. Cherry has some fine characteristics that Beech cannot match. However, beech has similar durability properties to cherrywood if not its good looks.
While combined, these two easily available and reasonably priced types of wood can complement each other in a woodworking project. For your next woodworking project, you can consider using either of these two types of wood or in combination. Now that you have a better idea of the characteristics of each one you can get the best out of them and use them to get satisfactory results.