The Woodworking Life

The Woodworking Life

Building with Choke Cherry - Part II

comments (5) December 4th, 2009 in blogs

Ed_Pirnik Ed Pirnik, Senior Web Producer
thumbs up 5 users recommend

A few coats of clear shellac, rubbed down with some 0000 steel wool reveal some potential. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

A few coats of clear shellac, rubbed down with some 0000 steel wool reveal some potential.

A few weeks ago I began the process of rough cutting and drying a few boards I pulled out of a choke cherry log donated to me by one of my colleagues at Fine Homebuilding. Since that time, the moisture content has gone down from about 30-percent, to just under 15% and I've transferred the pieces outside, to continue the drying process on a covered porch. The wood was drying way too rapidly here at the FWW shop.

Yesterday I thought I'd take one of the unusable pieces (too much nasty checking), cut it down to a nice rectangle, mill it up and shellac it. I was curious as to how this fruit wood might look with a clear coat on it. I wasn't disappointed. The beautiful waves of pink and red are quite stunning and I'm looking forward to using what few pieces I'll get from the log, as accents in an upcoming project, yet to be determined.

So, what do you think? Drawer fronts for a small cabinet, panels for a small door? I'm open to anything and would love to hear your opinions.

Read Part I

And for more on the topic of backyard lumber, be sure to check out Gus Carlson's article from issue 128.

Lumber from Your Own Backyard

posted in: blogs, milling lumber, choke cherry, drying lumber

Comments (5)

JD_Brophy JD_Brophy writes: I have been saving the medium length and longer (3ft-6ft long) branches that I pruned off of the top of the tree 3 years ago, and have started turning them into really nice looking walking sticks and canes. I use hardware (interchangeable spike/rubber tipped end caps) that I buy at my local Lee Valleys store. I love the natural curves of the wood, and the colouring that the clear coat finishing brings out. I have yet to try anything larger as I only have access to the branches (my wife would skin me if I cut down the tree). Is this material best used for smaller projects, or can you build larger projects such as deskes, small cabinets, etc? Would love to know for future reference.
Posted: 6:50 pm on October 19th

Woodman1047 Woodman1047 writes: The choke cherry wood can be used in a small treasure box. The one's I have made are 2" x 2" x 4" with a lid using small 5mm barrel hinges.
This is a wonderful way to showcase your special woods, and the treasure boxes become great gifts.
Doug Stowe has several books on the boxes he has made, and has many ideas for using small special beautiful wood pieces into something special.
Good luck.
Posted: 8:02 am on August 17th

McCanon McCanon writes: Chokecherry -- an eye popping species. In our locale, a huge trunk would be 3-4 inches in diameter. Most of the standing dead pieces curve with deep splits and have a diameter of 1-2 inches. Finding some lengths to work with, lean towards the lathe. I've turned letter openers, tree ornaments, hour glass spindles, etc. The wood color is blond to white with veining tan to nearly black. When people see something of Chokecherry, their first comment is "WOW' that's chokecherry?" I use only the standing dead. Give it try, you'll be surprised.
Posted: 2:51 pm on December 10th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: That's beautiful wood. My father-in-law picks choke cherries every year to make jam. I never thought about using the wood, though. I'd better not cut his favorite trees, though.

Have you thought about exposing your samples to sunlight for a few weeks? I'd be interested to know what happens to the colors with UV exposure.
Posted: 9:56 pm on December 4th

danmart danmart writes: I played around with some of this cherry and found it difficult/challenging to get some acceptable joinery to make larger sections. Like apple it seems to go best in floating panels or small pieces to highlight the interesing grain.

Don't get disappointed by the amount of unusable stuff. Take the losses and make the best of the good stuff.

Posted: 7:19 pm on December 4th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker


Get to know the woodworkers who make Fine Woodworking's online community the liveliest woodworking forum on the Web.

Each week, The Woodworking Life will feature the best projects, topical discussions, and how-to tips direct from the community.

WE WANT YOU! Find out how you can become a contributor to The Woodworking Life.

Looking for our archive?