Is Cherry a Hardwood or Softwood? (Ultimate Guide!)

Ever wondered if the majestic cherry tree yields hardwood? Let’s dive in and discover!

Is Cherry A Hardwood

Cherry is one of the most popular wood types in the woodworking world which can be used to make furniture, cabinets, floorings, paneling, and many other indoor and outdoor projects.

I’ve worked with Cherry wood for more than 10 years and the hardness of Cherry wood is important to know before working with it.

So, let’s find out, Is Cherry a hardwood?

Yes, Cherry is a hardwood that comes from deciduous species. Cherry is a soft hardwood with medium strength and density. Cherry has a Janka hardness rating of 950 lbf (4,230 N) which is softer than other varieties of hardwoods. Cherry is soft and lightweight wood with excellent shock resistance.

But there’s more to know about the hardness of Cherry.

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    In this article, I’ll deeply explore, is Cherry a hardwood, how hard Cherry is, Cherry wood characteristics, and the strength of Cherry wood as well.

    Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

    Just keep reading!

    Cherry wood furniture and woodwork
    Cherry wood furniture and woodwork

    First of all, let’s get a good understanding about the Cherry wood.

    What Is Cherry Wood?

    First things first, to truly understand what cherry wood is, we must first get acquainted with its origin.

    Imagine a tall, majestic tree, reaching up to 100 feet, gracing the landscapes of places like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York.

    Yes, that’s the American Black Cherry Tree, scientifically known as Prunus Serotina, the very source of this premium lumber.

    Interestingly, these trees don’t just offer us their wood.

    They also bear tiny tart-like fruits, a delightful treat for birds and other frugivores, albeit not the cherries you might find in your grocery store.

    These trees have the kind of charm that transcends beyond their wood, don’t you think?

    Did you know fact about cherry wood
    Did you know fact about cherry wood

    Color of Cherry Wood

    Now, let’s talk about its splendid color profile.

    Cherry wood starts off with a golden-pinkish shade, which, as if kissed by time, gradually transitions into a rich reddish-brown hue, especially when it dances under the light.

    It’s almost as if the wood matures and blossoms, showcasing a richer, deeper hue as the years go by.

    If you’re considering cherry wood for your next project, you might want to let it bask in some good light.

    Doing so not only accelerates its aging phase but also brings out that coveted reddish-brown shade, adding a touch of rustic elegance to your space.

    Texture and Grain

    Imagine running your hands over a piece of cherry wood furniture. You would notice the smooth texture, a testament to its fine grain pattern.

    This wood is often a favorite among craftsmen for its closed grain and smaller wood pores, which means finished products have a smoother touch compared to woods with open grains.

    It’s quite a treat for the senses, isn’t it?

    Cherry wood floor
    Cherry wood floor

    How To Identify Real Cherry Wood

    Watch out for black specks on the wood surface, a characteristic trait of cherry wood due to the mineral deposits it acquires during growth.

    And always, always look for keywords like “real” or “natural” when shopping online to avoid falling prey to counterfeit products.

    Now you have a general understanding about the cherry wood. So, let’s focus on the key area which is all about its hardness.

    How Hard Is Cherry?

    Cherry is a soft hardwood with medium density and medium strength with significantly lower hardness than other hardwood species.

    The hardness of Cherry wood can be measured with Janka hardness ratings.

    Janka hardness test is the standard method of measuring the hardness of any wood species.

    Janka hardness rating is the resistance of wood against wear and shear. If a particular wood has high wear and shear resistance, that means its Janka hardness rating is high.

    According to the Janka hardness test, Cherry wood has a hardness rating of 950 lbf (4,230 N) which is significantly lower than many other hardwoods and some softwoods as well.

    For example, Ash, Beech, Hard Maple, Walnut, and Oak are some popular hardwood species that are harder than Cherry.

    Because of that, even though Cherry comes from a deciduous species with broad leaves that falls annually, it is considered a soft hardwood due to its medium density and strength.

    Cherry table
    Cherry table

    Cherry wood has a straight grain structure with curly patterns.

    Even though Cherry wood is considered a soft hardwood, it has excellent durability and decay resistance than most hardwoods.

    With moderate hardness and high durability, Cherry wood can be used for outdoor woodworking projects without worrying about its low density compared to other hardwoods.

    It has good shock resistance as well.

    Cherry wood has a semi-ring to diffuse porous structure just like Birch and Maple hardwoods.

    Apart from being medium hard and dense, Cherry wood has excellent bending properties which are helpful for steam bending.

    Plus, it is softer hardwood and lightweight wood which is useful in wood carving.

    As you can see, the medium hardness of Cherry wood is easily skippable because of its cool features which as so useful in woodworking.

    Characteristic features of cherry wood
    Characteristic features of cherry wood

    Hardness of Cherry Compared to Other Woods

    As per the Janka hardness rating, Cherry has a hardness rating of 950 lbf (4,230 N) which is a medium hardness value.

    Refer below the hardness comparison chart to get a good knowledge about the hardness of Cherry compared to other popular woods.

    Wood SpeciesHardness value
    Brazilian Walnut3,684 lbf (16,390 N)
    Red Mahogany, Turpentine2,697 lbf (12,000 N)
    Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba2,350 lbf (10,500 N)
    Golden Teak2,330 lbf (10,400 N)
    Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
    Hard Maple, Sugar Maple1,450 lbf (6,400 N)
    White Oak1,360 lbf (6,000 N)
    Ash (White)1,320 lbf (5,900 N)
    American Beech1,300 lbf (5,800 N)
    Red Oak (Northern)1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
    Yellow Birch / Baltic birch1,260 lbf (5,600 N)
    Teak1,155 lbf (5,140 N)
    Black Walnut, North American Walnut1,010 lbf (4,500 N)
    Cherry950 lbf (4,230 N)
    Black Cherry, Imbuia950 lbf (4,200 N)
    Red Maple950 lbf (4,200 N)
    Larch830 lbf (3,690 N)
    Yellow Pine870 lbf (3,870 N)
    Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
    Silver Maple700 lbf (3,100 N)
    Hemlock540 lbf (2,402 N)
    Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
    Cypress510 lbf (2,269 N)
    Redwood420 lbf (1,868 N)
    Basswood410 lbf (1,823 N)
    Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
    Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
    White Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
    Aspen350 lbf (1,557 N)
    White Cedar320 lbf (1,423 N)

    As you can see even though Cherry is not the hardest wood, it has a good average value of hardness which is totally sufficient for many woodworking projects.

    Cherry wood kitchen cabinet
    Cherry wood kitchen cabinet

    So, let’s discuss some characteristic features of Cherry wood as a hardwood.

    Cherry Wood Characteristics

    Cherry wood is a soft hardwood with medium density and strength. It has a pinkish-brown color that slowly turns into a reddish-brown color upon exposure to the sunlight.

    Because of being a hardwood with softness inside, working with Cherry wood is quite easy.

    Most of the hardwoods are difficult to work with due to their high density and extremely tight wood grain.

    Woodworking tools may get blunt and beginners in woodworking are unable to learn new skills with those hardwoods since most people get frustrated when working with them.

    But, not with Cherry.

    You can nail, screw, cut, glue, and drill Cherry wood due to its medium density and high workability.

    Plus, Cherry wood is easy to stain, paint or seal with almost any wood finisher in any color since it takes wood finish so well.

    Because of having a uniform grain pattern with fine texture, you can easily get a nice and smooth surface for your Cherry wood furniture and wood carving projects.

    Cherry wood dining table
    Cherry wood dining table

    Cherry is easy to shape and polish due to its excellent finishing properties.

    Cherry wood has excellent bending properties. Therefore, it can use for projects that require flexibility.

    Being rot and decay-resistant and having high durability makes Cherry wood one of the best woods when it comes to outdoor woodworking projects.

    Plus, it can sustain dents and nicks more easily than other popular hardwoods.

    Cherry wood furniture is able to withstand environmental elements such as moisture, temperature variations, humidity, and more.

    This behavior is uncommon for most medium-density hardwoods.

    Cherry wood has good shock resistance and a significant amount of strength which are useful to carry loads without losing its dimensional stability.

    Here are the most significant qualities of Cherry wood,

    • Soft hardwood
    • Medium density
    • High rot resistance
    • Excellent decay resistance
    • Darkens over time
    • High durability
    • Easy to work with
    • Easy to finish
    Tip for working with cherry wood
    Tip for working with cherry wood

    Properties of Cherry Wood

    Here are the main characteristic features of Cherry wood,

    ColorPinkish brown to reddish brown
    Density0.50 kg/m3
    Hardness950 lbf
    Stiffness1.49 Mpsi
    Wood TypeHardwood
    ApplicationsFurniture making, Cabinet making, Flooring

    So, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Cherry wood as a hardwood.

    Pros And Cons Of Cherry Wood

    High DurabilitySoft Hardwood
    Rot-resistantMedium Density
    Decay resistantDarkens over time
    No characteristic odorModerately expensive
    Attractive color 
    High workability 
    Easy to shape 
    Easy to finish 
    High availability 

    As you can see Cherry wood is one of the most versatile woods with lots of benefits over its disadvantages.

    With proper finishing and good maintenance, you can easily skip the cons of Cherry wood easily.

    Cherry wood shelf
    Cherry wood shelf

    Let’s see some applications of Cherry wood.

    What Is Cherry Wood Used For?

    As we already know Cherry wood can use literally for any indoor and outdoor woodworking projects because of its wonderful woodworking features which are so unique to have.

    Here are some popular applications of Cherry wood,

    • Making indoor and outdoor furniture
    • Cabinet making
    • Flooring
    • Paneling
    • Doors
    • Boxes and crates
    • Wood carvings
    • Musical instruments
    • Boat building
    • Molding
    • Turning
    • Decorative items

    You can clearly see why Cherry is popular among woodwork. It is a top-rated hardwood with many uses.

    Tip for working with cherry
    Tip for working with cherry

    How Strong Is Cherry Wood?

    Cherrywood is a moderately strong wood compared to other hardwoods. It has good dimensional stability and shock resistance to stay strong under stress.

    Because of having excellent bending capabilities, the bending strength (flexural strength) of Cherry wood is significantly high.

    It has unparalleled strength which is useful for the long run with high durability.

    The compressive strength and bending strength of Cherry wood are as follows,

    • The compressive strength of Cherry wood is 7,110 psi
    • The bending strength of Cherry wood is 12,300 psi

    With the above numbers, you can get a clear idea of why Cherry wood is popular in woodwork which considers flexibility as a factor.

    Cherry has unique flexibility that is useful in bending.

    According to the experts, Cherry is stronger than Aspen, Basswood, Sweetgum, Sycamore, Oak, Soft Maple, and Poplar.

    That’s it, folks! Hope you found an in-detail answer for your hot topic, is Cherry a hardwood?

    Cherry wood cupboard
    Cherry wood cupboard

    So, let’s compare the hardness of cherry wood with woods that we mostly use.

    Is Cherry Wood Harder Than Oak?

    Cherry wood is softer than Oak. Both red oak and white oak are significantly harder than Cherry wood.

    Cherry and oak wood both are hardwoods, but Cherry wood can easily replace by oak wood in terms of its hardness.

    According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Cherry and oak is as follows,

    Wood TypeHardness
    Cherry950 lbf
    Red Oak1,290 lbf
    White Oak1,360 lbf
    Cherry wood table
    Cherry wood table

    Which Is Harder Maple Or Cherry?

    Hard maple is harder than Cherry, but soft maple has a similar hardness to Cherry. Overall, Maple can be considered harder than Cherry.

    Cherry and maple both come from the same hardwood family.

    Even though Cherry is softer than maple, it has good environmental resistance and durability than maple.

    According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Cherry and maple is as follows,

    Wood TypeHardness
    Cherry950 lbf
    Hard Maple1,450 lbf
    Soft Maple950 lbf

    Is Cherry Wood Hard To Cut?

    Cherry wood is easy to cut since it has moderate hardness, density, and strength.

    Cherry is softer than other hardwoods which makes it easier to cut and mill with a table saw or other woodworking hand tools or power tools.

    Because of being easy to cut, Cherry wood is great for wood carving projects since you can shape the wood easily without chipping or cracking.

    Even a beginner in woodworking is able to learn cutting techniques and tricks using a soft hardwood like Cherry since it cuts easily with no issues.

    Is Cherry Harder Than Mahogany?

    Cherrywood is harder than mahogany. But Cherry and mahogany have similar mechanical properties since they have similar density and strength.

    Mahogany is great if you’re focusing on visual appeal since it has a luxurious appearance. But Cherry performs better than mahogany in outdoor environments.

    According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Cherry and maple is as follows,

    Wood TypeHardness
    Cherry950 lbf
    Mahogany800 lbf
    Uses of cherry wood
    Uses of cherry wood

    So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions as well.


    How does cherry hardwood compare to oak or maple in terms of hardness?

    Cherry hardwood is slightly softer than oak and maple, which allows for easier working and shaping, yet it still offers excellent durability for most projects.

    What are the benefits of using cherry hardwood for furniture?

    Using cherry hardwood for furniture means you get not only a strong and durable product but also a piece that evolves in color and richness as it ages, adding character to your spaces.

    Is cherry wood sustainable and eco-friendly?

    Yes, cherry wood is quite sustainable, especially when sourced responsibly, making it an eco-friendly choice for various woodworking projects.

    Is it easy to maintain furniture made of cherry hardwood?

    Yes, maintaining cherry hardwood furniture is relatively straightforward; regular dusting and occasional polishing will keep its vibrant, evolving hues looking fresh and beautiful.

    Does cherry wood react well to staining and finishing?

    Yes, cherry wood takes well to staining and finishing, but it’s recommended to use a sealer first to prevent blotching and ensure a smooth, even finish.

    Can I use cherry wood for outdoor projects?

    While cherry wood can be used for outdoor projects, it’s best to apply a protective finish to shield it from the elements and prolong its lifespan.

    Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Cherry A Hardwood

    In this article, I have deeply discussed, is Cherry hardwood, and how hard Cherry is by looking at its characteristic features with pros and cons.

    Cherry is a hardwood. Derived from the American Black Cherry Tree (Prunus Serotina), cherry wood is known for its medium hardness, fine grain, and a rich color palette that darkens over time, making it a popular choice for fine furniture and cabinetry.

    Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.

    Hope you have gained good knowledge about, is Cherry hardwood with its properties.

    Try Cherry wood for your next woodworking or wood carving project and see how its hardness is useful to maintain the stability of the project.

    Happy woodworking with Cherry wood!

    Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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