Here at Clark Fine Wood Products I am lucky enough to be located in Burton Ohio which happens to have an abundance of natural hardwood species valued for uses in fine woodworking. Walnut, Maple and Cherry woods are all excellent examples of hardwood species valued for their appearance and qualities in furniture and are native to this area. Using a particular kind of black cherry is a favorite of mine for wine racks but many people may not be familiar with what is often referred to as Gummy Cherry.
Gummy Cherry is not a species of Cherry but is rather akin to calling a piece of lumber “curly” (see curly maple) which identifies a special pattern or character present in the wood. While curly woods have a pleasing undulating pattern in the grain of the wood, Gummy Cherry is named for dark resin deposits throughout the growth rings of the tree. When these deposits are present in a milled board for woodworking they can vary widely in intensity and density and final appearance.
You can see how the “Gum” in Gummy Cherry follows the growth rings of the tree when viewing the edge grain. These resin deposits are dark, hard deposits of resin during the trees growth.
Considered a defect in industry these resin deposits can compromise the structural integrity of the wood if the layer of resin is deep enough. The gum stripes can form a separating barrier between the adjoining layers of wood and either weaken it or be enough to physically separate sections of the wood in the most extreme cases and the wood will fall into pieces. Pockets of this resin can also form and leave pits that resemble knots in the wood.
Detail of a ‘pitch pocket’ in gummy cherry
So why use Gummy Cherry? I use Gummy Cherry because I think it is beautiful. The gum lines often create swirling patterns as they follow the grain in the wood and create an additional layer of interest. The intensity of the gum is often more muted and subtle than the above examples and results in a wonderfully unique piece. If you find any of these features in a Clark Fine Wood Product piece, now you know what you are looking at!
A couple typical Cherry Wine Columns. The gummy characteristics are present but subtle.