Walnut Vs. Cherry Wood

Written by tom streissguth
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Walnut Vs. Cherry Wood
Cherry is an attractive material for bedrooms, providing contrast with light-coloured walls and linens. (wood cherry bedroom image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from Fotolia.com)

Walnut and cherry are two North American hardwoods used in making furniture, cabinetry and veneers. These two woods show different colour, texture and ageing properties. Both woods are strong and durable, resistant to scratches, denting and warping.


Walnut is another valued wood for furnishings and cabinetry that, according to Frontgate.com, a home furnishings website, "provides strength, hardness, and durability without excessive weight." Walnut's grain is straight and its colour ranges from greyish to dark brown. Its colour warms and reddens slightly as the wood ages. Walnut, considered tough enough for aeroplane propellers, is still in high demand by gunsmiths for the stocks (handles) of rifles and shotguns.


Cherry is a fine-grained, reddish hardwood valued for a soft, rich lustre that darkens gradually as it ages, Frontgate.com says. Its colour resembles expensive mahogany, which must be imported into the United States.


Walnut and cherry are well-suited to furniture such as armoires, bedsteads, chests, drawers, chairs, tables and sideboards. Cherry, considered too soft as a flooring material, is commonly used for highlights in flooring, moulding and walls, Robinson's Woodcrafts says. Walnut is commonly used in door panels and veneers.


Exposure to direct sunlight hastens ageing in walnut and cherry. The greyish cast of some walnut will gradually mellow with age while its natural colour lightens over the years. Cherry darkens with age, according to Green Design Furniture. Both hardwoods resist nicks and dents, making them ideal for well-used furniture like dining room tables and desks.

Staining and Finishing

Walnut and cherry are well-suited to stains and finishes. The swirling grain of cherry, however, makes it more challenging to stain evenly. Using a pigmented stain will help the cherry resist the rapid darkening that occurs with exposure to ultraviolet light. It will also afford a more even stain than dyeing the wood. Walnut's harder surface makes it easier to stain and polish evenly. According to professional woodworker Sam Allen, "A clear penetrating oil finish is often the finish of choice for walnut."

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