Is Cherry A Hardwood?

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Cherry wood is highly valued for its warm, elegant color, and distinctive grain patterns, which make it a popular choice for furniture and home decoration pieces. But is cherry a hardwood that can withstand harsh elements?

In this article, I will go into an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of Cherry to help you determine if it’s the right wood for your project.

The Hardness of Cherry Wood

Cherry is one of the most sought-after hardwoods among woodworkers due to its durability and workability. It’s an excellent choice for various woodworking projects that require durability and stability. In fact, cherry is considered one of the most durable hardwoods like maple and oak.

It has exceptional strength and hardness, with a Janka rating of 995 lbf, which means it’s highly resistant to humidity, temperature variations, and wear and tear. Due to this, cherry has become one of the top choices for furniture, flooring, and cabinetry.

However, its hardness can vary depending on the specific species of the Cherry tree, as well as other factors, such as growing conditions and the age of the tree.

But generally, cherry wood is a stronger and more resilient hardwood that can withstand harsh elements compared to most hardwoods.

cutting cherry log

Here are some comparisons of cherry wood’s hardness to that of other common hardwoods based on their Janka score:

Hardwood Species

Hardness Rating

Brazilian Walnut

16,390 N (3,684 lbf)

Jatoba, Brazilian Cherry

10,500 N (2,350 lbf)

Turpentine, Red Mahogany

12,000 N (2,697 lbf)

Hickory, Satinwood, Pecan

8,100 N (1,820 lbf)

Golden Teak

10,400 N (2,330 lbf)

White Oak

6,000 N (1,360 lbf)

Sugar Maple, Hard Maple

6,400 N (1,450 lbf)

American Beech

5,800 N (1,300 lbf)

White Ash

5,900 N (1,320 lbf)

Northern Red Oak 

5,700 N (1,290 lbf)


5,140 N (1,155 lbf)

Baltic Birch, Yellow Birch

5,600 N (1,260 lbf)

Black Walnut

4,500 N (1,010 lbf)

Imbuia, Black Cherry

4,200 N (950 lbf)


4,230 N (950 lbf)

Red Maple

4,200 N (950 lbf)

Yellow Pine

3,870 N (870 lbf)


3,690 N (830 lbf)

Douglas Fir

3,158 N (710 lbf)


2,402 N (540 lbf)

Silver Maple

3,100 N (700 lbf)


2,269 N (510 lbf)

Black Spruce

2,313 N (520 lbf)


1,868 N (420 lbf)

Engelmann Spruce

1,735 N (390 lbf)


1,823 N (410 lbf)

Sugar Pine

1,690 N (380 lbf)


1,557 N (350 lbf)

White Pine

1,690 N (380 lbf)

White Cedar

1,423 N (320 lbf)

As shown above, cherry wood falls in the middle of the range of hardwoods in terms of hardness. This means that cherry has a medium density compared to other common hardwoods.

While cherry is not as hard as some of the denser hardwoods like walnut or mahogany, it is still a strong and durable wood that is suitable for a wide range of woodworking projects.

finishing cutting cherry wood

Characteristics Of Cherry Wood

I’ve always found Cherry wood to be an exceptional choice when it comes to woodworking. Craftsmen have long been smitten with this hardwood, and rightfully so; its medium density strikes the perfect balance for carving, sawing, and sanding tasks.

Since Cherry wood is not too hard compared to most hardwoods, it’s easier to create fine details and intricate designs on its straight-grain pattern. Also, it has great stability, so it will not shrink or warp as it dries, preserving your carved designs over time.

Unlike most hardwoods, cherry wood is easier to stain due to its smooth, tight-grained surface that accepts finishes well. Its uniform grain structure allows finishes to be applied evenly and smoothly.

Additionally, its beautiful reddish-brown color brings timeless elegance to your home as it darkens with exposure to light. This results in a warm and rich tone that adds character and richness to the wood’s appearance.

Most importantly, it contains natural oils, which provide protection against moisture and humidity, extending its lifespan. Below are cherry wood’s outstanding qualities:

Cherry wood color

Cherry Wood’s Pros and Cons

Like any other type of hardwood, Cherry wood has both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the key points you must consider when using Cherry wood for your project:



Uses of Cherry Wood

Cherry is one of the most versatile hardwoods that you can use in your various projects. While Cherry wood is highly regarded for furniture making and indoor applications, it can also be used for various exterior projects.

While the wood’s color may deepen over time due to exposure to direct sunlight and other harsh elements, I actually find that adds to its aesthetic charm. So don’t shy away from using it outdoors; you might find that aging only enhances its beauty.

pilling cherry wood blocks

Here are some common projects where you can use Cherry wood:

How Strong Is Cherry Wood?

Cherry wood possesses a moderate level of strength when compared to certain other hardwood varieties. What really grabs my attention about this wood is its shock resistance and unparalleled dimensional stability. These attributes make it an enduring choice for a myriad of projects.

These unique qualities make cherry wood particularly resilient, enabling it to endure heavy loads and withstand various stresses without compromising its structural integrity.

Essentially, it has remarkable bending or flexural strength and compressive strength, meaning it can withstand pressure without splitting or breaking.

Cherry has higher compressive strength and bending or flexural strength compared to some popular hardwoods like Oak, Aspen, Soft Maple, Basswood, Poplar, Sycamore, and Sweetgum. Therefore, it is stronger and more durable for various applications.

Cherry wood table

Is Cherry Wood Harder Than Oak?

Essentially, Cherry has a lower Janka score than Oak. This means that cherry wood is relatively softer compared to Oak. Below are the Janka hardness scores of Oak and Cherry wood:

Hardwood Type

Hardness Rating


950 lbf

White Oak

1,360 lbf

Red Oak

1,290 lbf

Is Cherry Wood Harder Than Maple?

piles of cherry wood

Cherry and Maple are both categorized as hardwoods, but they have different durability and strength. Although Soft Maple and Cherry have the same Janka hardness, Hard Maple is stronger than Cherry wood.

However, Cherry has better resistance to environmental elements, making it more durable than Maple. Below are the Janka hardness scores of Maple and Cherry wood:

Hardwood Type

Hardness Rating


950 lbf

Soft Maple

950 lbf

Hard Maple

1,450 lbf

Is Cherry Wood Harder Than Mahogany?

Generally, mahogany and Cherry have equal strength and density. However, Cherry has a higher resistance to decay, making it more suitable for outdoor applications compared to mahogany.

Additionally, Cherry wood has higher Janka hardness than mahogany. Therefore, Cherry wood is stronger and more durable than Mahogany. Below are the Janka hardness scores of mahogany and Cherry wood:

Hardwood Type

Hardness Rating


800 lbf


950 lbf

Is It Difficult To Cut Cherry Wood?

cutting cherry log top

In my own projects, I’ve found that cherry wood’s moderate density and hardness make it a joy to work with using common woodworking tools. Due to its excellent workability, many woodworkers opt to use it for their wood carving projects.

With the use of simple tools, you can easily cut and shape Cherry wood without the risk of chipping, splitting, and cracking. So, even if you’re a beginner or a DIYer [1], you will find Cherry wood easier to work with.


Overall, Cherry is a hardwood that is stronger and more durable to resist weather variations, moisture, humidity, insects, molds, and other harsh elements.

Aside from its durability and strength, its distinctive grain pattern and reddish-brown hues that darken with age make it highly valuable and one of the most sought-after hardwoods. If properly cared for and maintained, your cherry wood pieces can last for many years.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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