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American cherry waste???

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Anonymous

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I have worked with home grown cherry before with no problems. I have a client who wanted a wardrobe built in American red cherry. I got a single board ,made a sample door, she liked it, sealed the deal and took a deposit. I have never previously used American cherry. The sample board had a some yellow sapwood but was not excessive and it was cut out and binned

When i t took delevery of the cherry i was absolutly floored. There was apprximately 30 boards. 10 were what i would have called select grade or clear, another 10 had 50% red cherry and 50% yellow sapwood the other 10 boards were almost entirely yellow sap. there was some red nice grain on one side but it was only about 2-3mm deep and would have planed out entirely. Is this normal when buying cherry?

I do expect waste when buying timber ( have been in the game for 25 years) but is this normal for American cherry?

Does the sap always remain yellow through time? i.e. will the red and yellow wood ever get near to each other in colour? ( stupid question, i should know better that to ask that)

Is there a stain/dye available to get them somewhere near?

My timber supplier says this is normal and should expect this level of waste, ????? My gut feeling says he may be spinning me a line but i would appeiciate some feedback from any one who has bought this timber

Malcolm
 
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Anonymous

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Malcolm

Bad luck. I regularly get ripped off on imported timber but this batch really does sound worse than it is reasonable to expect. I find that when you are a small purchaser timber grading becomes pretty vague and they just use phrases like you should expect and accept sapwood and defects. No-one buying commercial quantities would look at this, you've just got the rubbish left over that they won't accept. They can't spare the manpower and time to work around the sap and hence wan't perfect boards with no waste. As the boards come over from the US sawn without a waney edge it is very easy to pick a good board from a sappy one send it to a "valued customer" and let you and me have the poor ones. The proportion of poor boards will have been taken into account in the price the timber merchant pays for a big batch. Sends the good ones from that batch at top price to the big boys, gives you the bad ones at the same price. Only way is to pick your own boards.

A finished piece of unstained cherry after it has darkened down with age for a good few months is just about the most wonderful colour you can get (IMHO). The sapwood will always look awful. You'll never get a successful colour match trying to cover it with stain.

Just my 2 pence worth

Roy
 

DaveL

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Malcolm,

I have bought some american cherry, here it is still in the car.

Look here to a few more pictures.
It was not quite what I wanted as its waney edge and I was after square.
As you can see there is yellow sap wood on all of the boards. I have not finished the desk I am making from it.
The colours will never be the same if you leave it to its own devices.
I did hand pick the boards, it sounds to me that you have boards from near the top or bottom of the stack when the tree was sawn through and through. They have more sap wood than those from near the middle of the log. I am using the sap wood in the rear panels on the desk and by careful selection not much will show. Where it does it will prove in my view its real wood from a real tree. But I know that sometimes you cannot get away with that.

I do think you may have been sold a pup. :(
 
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Anonymous

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I don't know what grading rules apply in the UK, but regardless it sounds as though you have an unacceptable amount of sap wood.

I use cherry on a regular basis over here and you can stain it to match fairly closely although this depends on the finish you are going for. With a very dark finish it can be made to be almost perfect, however the lighter stain the harder it will be. Frankly I'd have a word with whoever sold it to you, as he may well be in the dark about what is acceptable and what isn't with cherry.

Thats my two cents, sorry pence (tuppence?), without having seen any photos, etc.
 
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Anonymous

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All the cherry i've used lately sounds like what you have. Recently it seems that the grading system for cherry (atleast here in the US) has slipped dramatically over the last few years.

i've been seeing alot of sapwood, wormholes, large pitch pockets, and checking in what i've been working with. Its a shame, some of it is excellent but alot of it becomes waste unless your intending on dying it dark.
 

Philly

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Crikey-if Walt from Pennsylvania (home of US Cherry) is getting lots of sap in his boards we in the UK have had it!
Pretty much every board of cherry I have seen at yards is full of sap (except the 4 boards I bought! 8) ) So maybe its the end of the road for good clear sap-free boards...... :cry:
cheers
Philly :D
 

Chris Knight

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I think Dave's load is pretty typical of what you can get these days and the answer is, I am afraid, to learn finishing techniques that allow use of the sapwood by matching to the darker boards.

I recommend Jeff Jewitt's forum http://www.homesteadfinishing.com/ (also his latest book for Taunton) for answers to the cherry problem. Note that you have to register and login to see the photos in the forum posts.

A search on cherry and sapwood (all terms) finds a few relevant recipes.
 

Sgian Dubh

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Malcolm, I use US cherry a lot in my work. I used it both before and when I lived in the US and I use it still now that I've moved back to the UK. It's one of my favourite timbers.

You certainly have to watch out for the quality, but at the same time you have to match quality to price. Only you and your timber dealer know the score there.

Certainly I won't accept boards that are 50% sapwood as you describe unless I'm getting them very cheap, but it all depends on what the job is too. Very sappy boards come from near the outer circumference of the tree and are often particularly unstable, which makes them unsuitable for many jobs.

If you've cleaned up the boards enough to see the condition but not processed them to be flat and square all round I'd take them back to the dealer and start haggling for replacement boards. If they are of genuine poor quality the dealer should replace them and he can negotiate with his supplier.

As far as using sapwood, it's usually-- but not always-- a good idea as it's unstable and bugs are very tempted to feed on it-- woodworm loves sapwood, for instance.

Sapwood can be stained to match heartwood using sap stain, but the problem is what are you going to match-- freshly worked cherry, or aged cherry? Whichever you choose, you're screwed because cherry changes colour markedly and quite rapidly over the years from an attractive tan, gold, yellow to a rich dark red. Slainte.
 

johnelliott

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I sympathise with those having this problem with cherry. When I used to make hardwood kitchens the sample I had for cherry included some sapwood. I never had an objection to it, although nobody wanted anything other than American Ash as soon as they saw it.

I think if I faced this particular problem I would either work out how much cherry I needed to order to get the required amount of clear and order it, or I would tell the customer that due to circumstances beyond my control I would not be able to fulfil the order. When she asked what the circumstances were I would tell her that the material was going to cost a good deal more than I could reasonably have anticipated. Then it would be up to her if she wanted to pay the extra.
John
 
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Anonymous

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As a heavy user of american cherry, all I can say is that I learned a long time ago to go to the woodyard and hand pick my boards. I usually end up with about 5% sapwood. If they don't have the boards I need, I leave...

The only boards I've ever bought mail order that I never had to complain about were sapele - nothing much to go wrong there!
 

Alf

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White House Workshop":290bnqfe said:
The only boards I've ever bought mail order that I never had to complain about were sapele - nothing much to go wrong there!
Yikes, Brian, that's not good. I hesitate to ask, but where'd you go? By necessity all my timber buying is via mail order, and I have to say I've yet to have a nasty experience. Maybe I'm not picky enough? :)

Cheers, Alf
 

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