If you are looking for some of the classiest wooden interior furnishings, you would do well to choose either teak or cherry wood. Both of these hardwoods are among the hardest and strongest that you can get. Looks-wise, they both have attractive colors and fine grain patterns.
Teak and Cherry are both prized woods for furniture and high-end woodworking projects. But to be able to get the best out of either of these two kinds of wood, you would need to know a bit more about them. In this post, we take a closer look at the characteristics of both teak vs. cherry including workability, hardness and cost.
Further, we also take a brief look at the difference between the two most popular types of cherry, black cherry and Brazilian cherry. But first, let us discuss the individual characteristics of each type of wood.
Characteristics of Teak
Teak comes from a tropical hardwood (Tectona grandis) which grows extensively in Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. It grows prominently in India, Myanmar, Indonesia and Thailand. Teak is among the hardest and strongest of hardwoods and the most durable as well.
Teak is golden to medium brown and darkens with age. The grain pattern is generally straight with occasional waviness or interlocking of grains. The surface of teak is smooth and silky to the touch and it can attain a high polish. But you can achieve the best finish by applying wood lacquer to teak.
It also takes stain and wood finish very well and it is possible to achieve a high gloss if painted after first applying a coat of primer. But even if you do not finish the surface, teak withstands weather and resists moisture and insect attack. The durability is due to the presence of a high degree of natural oil in the wood.
We use teak for building boats and ships, making veneer and in furniture, construction and for carving and woodturning. Teak is especially suitable for making outdoor furniture due to its high durability.
Characteristics of Cherry Wood
Cherry is the wood of the cherry fruit tree. It has a rich, pinkish color that deepens to a reddish-brown over time. The smooth grain and flexibility make it a popular choice among woodworkers for making furniture and cabinets. It is extensively used where curved designs are required through steam bending.
Popular uses for cherry wood are in cabinetry and fine furniture, paneling, flooring, musical instruments and decorative wooden items. Cherry is slightly challenging to work with due to its hardness, making it suitable for only experienced woodworkers to use. With appropriate tools and skills, cherry wood can show spectacular results.
Cherry gives off a distinctive, fruity odor when you cut it and even when you burn it for firewood. That is why we use cherry wood for smoking meat. Black cherry is considerably hard, but softer than many other hardwoods. Brazilian cherry, on the other hand, is many times harder, and suitable for making indoor furniture.
Cherry lacks natural oil which makes it prone to deterioration if exposed to the elements. Therefore, you will find cherry used for indoor applications only. With a suitable finish for added protection, cherry wood furniture can last for generations.
You can read more about cherry wood in another interesting post of ours.
Teak vs. Cherry
Coming to the comparison of teak vs. cherry wood, the common factor is that both kinds of wood are hard and durable. Interiors made of either teak or cherry wood will look classy and create a warm ambiance. However, there are a few differences, so let’s consider what to expect from using either of these types of wood.
Teak vs. Cherry: Appearance
Teak can look classic even if left on its own without applying finish. If left exposed to the elements, teak will take on a silvery-grey patina that appeals to many. Cherry, on the other hand, needs an appropriate finish to bring out the beauty of the grain pattern. Both types of wood look great with a suitable finish.
Teak vs. Cherry: Durability
Teak contains natural oil that protects it from adverse weather conditions, insects, rot and deterioration due to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. This allows us to use teak for outdoor furniture, decks, and wooden railings. Cherry wood does not produce natural oil like teak, so it is restricted to indoor use only.
Teak vs. Cherry: Uses
Both teak and cherry wood make the best furniture and indoor cabinets. Cherry wood is also good for making decorative items and ornaments. Teak and cherry make good wood carvings as well, but cherry presents a bit of a challenge due to its tendency to chip. Also, we consider cherry wood as one of the most food-safe woods, so it is good for making wooden cutting boards, bowls and spoons.
The additional uses of teak include outdoor furniture and other outdoor structures like decks and railings. Further, the high durability of teak makes it suitable for building boats and in shipbuilding.
Teak Vs. Cherry: Sustainability
Sustainable wood is defined as wood that is acquired legally to sustain the environment. Teak has a history of over-exploitation of its forests and is on the list of endangered wood species. It is not a sustainable wood, although governments are stepping in to put this matter to rights.
Cherry is considered moderately sustainable due to its controlled cultivation and shorter lifecycle. If you buy cherry wood, you won’t have to worry too much about the source. But with teak, you need to be careful on at least two counts.
Firstly, you want to be sure that the source is legal, and secondly, there is a lot of imitation teak being sold as genuine teak. So, you need to be careful not to get ripped off.
Difference Between Black Cherry and Brazilian cherry
Before we close our discussion, it would apt to consider the difference between black cherry and Brazilian cherry. It is extremely important because they are very different from each other and as a woodworker, you can benefit greatly by knowing the difference. Here are a few of the main differences to consider:
Black cherry or American is Prunus serotine whereas Brazilian cherry or Jatoba is Hymenaea courbaril.
While black cherry has a Janka hardness rating of 950, Brazilian cherry is rated at 2,700 on the Janka scale. As you can see, Brazilian cherry is way harder than black cherry.
Countries of Origin
Black cherry is native to North America and Canada. Brazilian cherry, as the name suggests grows in South American countries.
Black cherry paradoxically is lighter in color than Brazilian cherry. It can vary between blond to light red and brown hues. Brazilian cherry is darker. There is a much wider color variation between the sapwood and heartwood of Brazilian cherry. You will find a wider color variation with flooring made of Brazilian cherry.
Regarding wood gain patterns, black cherry exhibits soft waves and curls, whereas these striations are minimized in Brazilian cherry. Generally speaking, both varieties of wood present some interesting visual effects depending on the cut of the wood and the finish applied.
When you select wood, especially for making furniture and cabinets, you need to consider factors like the type of wood, color, grain, density and durability. These two types of hardwood, either teak or cherry are guaranteed to give you spectacular results.
Now that you are aware of the characteristics of both these types of wood and the differences between black cherry and Brazilian cherry, you can choose the most suitable wood for your woodworking projects.