Wood Characteristics




Getting to know the wood species

BLACK CHERRYPrunus Serotina

Heartwood is rose-colored, darkens over time and exposure to light to a deep, reddish-brown patina.  Sapwood is pale yellow.  Most boards will contain sapwood portions.  Black Cherry has a tendency to appear blotchy when stained.  Moderate hardness, smooth texture, usually straight grained, natural luster.  This is NOT the Black Cherry fruit tree.

WHITE OAK-Quercus Alba

Has more of an olive-colored undertone.  Is straight grain, coarse and uneven texture.  Quartersawn White Oak will have a ray flecking, striping pattern and changes the color to a redder more than olive color.  


Both are part of the “True-Hickory” family.  The heartwood is brown, sapwood is yellow/whitish, when boards are cut with heartwood and contrasting sapwood, this adds to the rustic look, sometimes called Calico Hickory.  One of the hardest woods in the USA, tends not to darken over time, usually straight grained, but occasionally wavy, takes stains and finishes well.

HARD MAPLEAcer Saccharum

The sapwood of hard maple is used more than the heartwood!  The color of the sapwood can be almost white, off-white, reddish or golden.  The heartwood is darker reddish brown.  High hardness, curly or quilted grain, can have a Birdseye maple pattern, has a fine, even texture.


RED OAK-Quercus Rubra

Is light to medium brown, with reddish undertone.  It has a straight grain, coarse and uneven texture.  

Air-dried/Kiln-dried:  All our wood is air-dried and then kiln-dried.  Air-dried may allow wood-eating organisms to continue to live in the wood.  Kiln-dried, due to heat, kills the insects and makes the wood more acceptable for use by lowering the moisture content in the wood.

Wood hardness/strength:  Generally, wood that has wider spaced growth rings tends to be harder, heavier and stronger than wood from trees that have closer spaced growth rings. 

What is Heartwood? It is the inner, dense, dark colored part of the tree, filled with dead cells filled with resins, gums, etc.

What is Sapwood? It is the light-colored region of the tree, filled with living cells, softer layers between the heartwood and the bark.

What is Quartersawn?  When the log is quartered then the boards are ripped, giving a different patter to the grain of the wood.

Sources:  “The Essential Wood Book”, Edited by Tim Snyder, Spring House Press, Copyright 2016.  “The Wood Database”, www.wood-database.com, Eric Meier, Copyright 2008-2024.