Quartersawn Cherry Appearance

Opinions vary on whether quarter-sawing brings out the best in Cherry. June 17, 2009

Has anyone done much work with quartersawn cherry? I am looking for info on stability, strength, and availability. Seems to be hard to get in the Midwest. I am getting conflicting information on what to expect in color and widths of lumber.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
Widths tend to be much narrower than plain sawn, and color is the same (i.e. grade not effected by sap except in proprietary color sorts). Stability is better than standard cherry. Tough to find, and pricey.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. What do you mean by "proprietary color sorts"? Also, much narrower? Would 5 - 6" boards be the average?

From contributor M:
Frank Miller Lumber in Union City, IN specializes in quarter sawn in several species. They also don't charge as if they have a rare product of nature, like some others do. Great folks and deliver in a pretty good radius of their yard.

From the original questioner:
Thanks! I wonder why quartered cherry isn't more popular?

From contributor M:
Don't know, but it is pretty. If you have ever seen quartered/rift maple, the grain is very similar in cherry. No real flashy figure, but smaller flecks and straight grain. I used it years ago on one of my first kitchens and try to use it for any furniture pieces.

From contributor T:
Quartersawn cherry is typically graded #1C or select, so 4" and up heavy to the 5-6" vs. 7" average I see in FAS plainsawn.

Proprietary color sorts are Red 1 Face, Red 2 Face, 80/20, 80/50, etc. Since sap is not considered in grading but is almost always an issue in the final product a proprietary sort is the only way to keep your yield in check.

I'll second the opinion on Frank Miller on quartersawn in general, although I have never used their cherry. Their quartersawn oak, while not the best I've seen, is at least 20% less than most other sources. You may also want to look at JT Shannon, who is probably closer to you.

From the original questioner:
I really appreciate the input. I will look into both suppliers and my current suppliers. Thanks to you and to WOODWEB for giving us the chance to communicate.

From contributor B:
A local mill brought in some quartersawn cherry and asked me to finish some test panels for him. Two years later he is still stuck with a skid of it. I finished the test panels with lacquer, both clear coated and over aniline dye. The grain patterns, in my opinion, are horrible, and figure is muted. I was unable to find anything appealing in this cut no matter what I did. The disappointing part is I was really psyched going into it. Maybe others have had better results, but right now, he can't give this away.

From the original questioner:
I have heard of finishing/coloring problems with this cut. Are you saying that even with clear coat only it still didn't look good?

From contributor D:
It also "chunks out" when machining way more than regular cherry.

From contributor M:
I am sitting here typing this on my cherry desk with a 1.375 thick quarter sawn cherry top... and I always thought it was beautiful. Should I tell all my clients who say how beautiful it is that they really don't know what they're looking at? Just kidding... And yes, I agree you have to abrasive plane a little more than some other species. But hey, plain sawn red oak and plain sawn maple make me want to puke!

From contributor S:
You know, I've tested quartersawn woods on potential customers a number of times and still have yet to get an even teeny bit of interest. I personally like the look of unusual grains and colors, but I think most folks buy the idea of a certain kind of wood. They read about cherry and go down to a BORG or cabinets store, see what they have there, and decide that's what they want, too. I've even had someone say that the color is fine, but what's wrong with the grain?