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Portions of Rough Cut Cherry Much Darker and Less Dense. Does Anyone Know Why?

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Forum topic by lilmanmgf posted 01-26-2020 09:07 PM 623 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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lilmanmgf

12 posts in 1338 days


01-26-2020 09:07 PM

I’m beginning my most ambitious project to date, dining chairs, and I’m currently in the process of initial jointing/planing to establish my boards. I’m using 8/4 rough cut cherry to get to 1 1/2 inch boards. I got a great price on a number of “off-cut” 8 foot boards, and I’m encountering something I’ve never seen in my short woodworking career. I’d like some help understanding what it is.

In the picture the left piece is what I consider to be “normal” cherry and the right is the “darker/less dense” cherry. The picture messes with the color a bit, the left board has a the light red hue I expect, while in person the right board is closer to reddish brown.

Both of these pieces are from the same 8 foot board. 2/3 of it cuts and planes like standard cherry, the latter 1/3 or so is this darker appearance. When cross cutting instead of a nice smooth cut, the darker cherry has a rough porous appearance. These boards have all been kiln dried. Is the darker the cherry the beginnings of dry rot which was stopped in the kiln? I’m assuming it’s unusable. Does anyone know what this is?




7 replies so far

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CaptainKlutz

2679 posts in 2172 days


#1 posted 01-26-2020 09:47 PM

hmm,
Can only comment on observations:

- left board has pith in center, and pith likes to crack/move. Can see the large crack showing a glimpse of what is coming. I would not use that portion.

- Right piece appears to be a slice from a small tree, has bark, and includes holes from a likely beetle attack.

- If both pieces are from same plank, the tree was milled stangely. There is pith on one end, and edge wood on the other? Supports the board was from a small log.

- Cherry color tones vary a lot. Pink, salmon, sun darkened red, even white sap wood.
Which leads me to another question.
> Where is the white/yellow sap wood?

Cherry usually has band of light sapwood near the edge, like these pic borrowed from hobbithouse:

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/

Have been using American Black Cherry for decades.
There is ALWAYS annoying lighter sap wood near edge.

Without seeing more lumber from same tree/stack, having hard time believing it’s cherry?

But then #IAMAKLUTZ, what do I know?

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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lilmanmgf

12 posts in 1338 days


#2 posted 01-26-2020 10:11 PM

I have about 6 8 foot cherry boards. Some have a lot of sapwood and bark still attached. The wood in question is all from same 8 foot board as shown in two pictures. I sectioned it myself based on the final piece length I needed and the size of my planer sled. It looks like some people call this “red rot” or “brown rot”? In the one picture you can see some mold on the outside edge. This was originally in the middle of the board, but it split in two where the mold was located. I can guarantee that this is all locally grown Pennsylvania cherry.

I’ll make sure to minimize using any of the material with the pith. Some of this will be used for 1.5×1.5” front legs 17” long. Would you be concerned with excessive movement from such a short piece?

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

1448 posts in 2630 days


#3 posted 01-26-2020 10:38 PM

Sometimes a “great price” is not such a “great deal”. I am no expert, but I don’t think your stock is really appropriate for dining chairs. Like the Klutz said, the pieces you have shown look like they are destined for a lot of movement down the road. Even the two best pieces in the stack already show significant twisting. For small projects like boxes you can get away with this. Chairs, especially ones where the rear legs are the full height to frame out the back, require really good stock to maintain structural integrity.

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lilmanmgf

12 posts in 1338 days


#4 posted 01-27-2020 12:03 AM



Sometimes a “great price” is not such a “great deal”. I am no expert, but I don t think your stock is really appropriate for dining chairs. Like the Klutz said, the pieces you have shown look like they are destined for a lot of movement down the road. Even the two best pieces in the stack already show significant twisting. For small projects like boxes you can get away with this. Chairs, especially ones where the rear legs are the full height to frame out the back, require really good stock to maintain structural integrity.

- Kazooman

Fair point. I bought two prime 8/4 8 foot Heartwood pieces which I’m using for the full height rear legs. It looks like I have some usable nice grain, no pith, for the front legs.

View BuckeyeDennis's profile

BuckeyeDennis

82 posts in 376 days


#5 posted 01-27-2020 12:34 AM

I bought several hundred board-feet of old barn-stored rough-sawn cherry a while back, and there were a few boards with small patches of that dark red/brown punky wood. Some of the sapwood was riddled with powderpost beetle holes as well. (I treated the wood with a diatomaceous earth pesticide, AND had it kiln-dried to kill any surviving bugs before using it.) Interestingly, the beetles only liked the sapwood — there was zero beetle damage to the heartwood. The dark stuff looked more like a fungal attack to me. But there was a LOT of beautiful heartwood cherry in the batch, quite a lot of it with some nice curl.

As for your piece with a curved face but no sapwood, I’m guessing that the sapwood decayed and split off along a growth ring. (If you have the entire board, you may be able to tell.) Cherry heartwood is highly rot-resistant. The sapwood, not so much. I’d just use the nice heartwood sections. The rest of mine made great kindling for the fireplace.

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

1137 posts in 225 days


#6 posted 01-27-2020 10:47 AM



I bought several hundred board-feet of old barn-stored rough-sawn cherry a while back, and there were a few boards with small patches of that dark red/brown punky wood. Some of the sapwood was riddled with powderpost beetle holes as well. (I treated the wood with a diatomaceous earth pesticide, AND had it kiln-dried to kill any surviving bugs before using it.) Interestingly, the beetles only liked the sapwood — there was zero beetle damage to the heartwood. The dark stuff looked more like a fungal attack to me. But there was a LOT of beautiful heartwood cherry in the batch, quite a lot of it with some nice curl.

As for your piece with a curved face but no sapwood, I’m guessing that the sapwood decayed and split off along a growth ring. (If you have the entire board, you may be able to tell.) Cherry heartwood is highly rot-resistant. The sapwood, not so much. I’d just use the nice heartwood sections. The rest of mine made great kindling for the fireplace.

- BuckeyeDennis

The sapwood is where the tree is “alive,” thats where all the action is, hence thats where the bugs live.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: If you tell the truth, you dont have to remember anything (S. Clemens) Edit: Now where is that darn pencil/ tape measure!

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Robert

3659 posts in 2159 days


#7 posted 01-27-2020 02:44 PM

This commonly happens when boards are from different trees but in your case, its just grain variation.

Cherry will darken in a few years it will probably all be so similar as to not be noticeable.

Dyeing (not staining) cherry will even out the color.

I’m certainly no expert but I think it depends on the leg geometry & how you’re making them (bent vs cut). But generally you want straight grain for legs.

When you rough cut the leg stock be sure to let is acclimate and destress before continuing.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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