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Thread: Walnut & Cherry

  1. #1
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    Walnut & Cherry

    I have a few projects on my list that I'm going to start soon. I have a lot of walnut and a lot of cherry. Do these two types of wood go well together? Say, in a frame & panel construction sort of way? Anyone have any pictures of that combo?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Bodenschatz View Post
    I have a few projects on my list that I'm going to start soon. I have a lot of walnut and a lot of cherry. Do these two types of wood go well together? Say, in a frame & panel construction sort of way? Anyone have any pictures of that combo?
    Sure wouldn't be my first choice, but I've never been a fan of strong contrasts on a big scale like that. A few accents, dowels, knobs, string inlays, yes - contrasting cherry frames with walnut panels or vice versa is not to my taste.
    All the best,
    Ian G

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  3. #3
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    Interesting pair of woods you've chosen. What will happen over time is that the walnut will actually get a bit lighter, and the cherry will get a lot darker. One will be a sort of chocolate brown, and the other a deep red-brown.

    I've never used the two together before - except in a cutting board. I'm not sure just how well they'll blend over time. You see maple-walnut or maple-cherry fairly often - both combos have a lot of contrast.

    Try taking two small boards - one cherry, one walnut - and setting them out in the sun for a week. If you like the resulting combination, then you're good to go.

    Keep us posted on how it works out.
    Jim D.

  4. #4
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Yes. Made the wife a sewing table years back. Top is cherry, rimmed with walnut. Sides are walnut legs, cherry panels. Walnut drawer fronts.
    I like the combination

  5. #5
    I have some fine Antiques that combine Walnut & Cherry. Over the years the Patina of both have aged together where it is hard to tell the difference (Need to know grain structures) I have a beautiful Highboy with ornate inlays of walnut on a Cherry background, the panels are Walnut on a Cherry frame.

    They work well together. I also have an Antique Bedroom Dresser where the Drawer fronts are walnut as well as the top surround (incases the Marble top) is walnut and the carcus and side panels are cherry. The back and drawer construction is Poplar. (I'm missing the mirror & frame) The Hand cut dovetails in this piece dates it circa 1800s. I also have an old Four poster (rope frame) bed that has Cherry turned posts and a Walnut head board and foot blanket roll.

    Like I said, they have aged well and as Walnut lightens with age while Cherry darkens, they meet in the middle.
    Last edited by Bill Simpson; 02-11-2007 at 12:06 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Simpson View Post
    I have some fine Antiques that combine Walnut & Cherry. Over the years the Patina of both have aged together where it is hard to tell the difference (Need to know grain structures) [snip] Cherry darkens, they meet in the middle.
    Please don't take it the wrong way, but what's the point when the contrast disappears over time anyway? I've seen some old walnut that has gone a light amber colour after a few generations - lighter than than fresh cut cherry. Reverse contrast over time?

    I've seen walnut burl framed in cherry or maple that looked great, but I think you need to decide whether you want the contrast to last - by dyeing or staining the darker wood or not.

    I'm not trying to impose my taste on anyone. I've seen some real abominations made in maple/walnut that I think are just a waste of good wood.

    Contrast, IMO, is a design element that is best used with restraint. It can too easily become brash or gawdy. I've seen some really stunning modern pieces with extreme contrast, but they are generally very abstract sculptural forms or where one of the woods is used in small areas only.

    Anyway, it's very subjective and I'm not saying my opinion is better than anyone else's. I just trying to point out some of the design risks involved.
    All the best,
    Ian G

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  7. #7
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    Ian nailed it. If you like the idea, go for it. If you don't...don't.

  8. #8
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    I guess I brought this up because I happen to have a lot of each of these types of wood and was looking to do a project that would utilize it. I'm not really sure how walnut & cherry would look together in one piece which is why I was looking for opinions and/or pictures. My next project will probably be the Cherry & Fir Bookcase from Jan/Feb 2003 FWW: http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworki.../011161060.pdf but I'm not crazy about douglas fir.
    I was thinking about doing walnut frame with cherry panels but I'm just not really convinced it would look right. I do like a contrasting look so I may end up going with a walnut/maple or cherry/maple. Maybe I'll make one of each.

  9. #9
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    Hi Rob,
    Back in the mid 70's I tried making some clogs for myself and a girl friend and my choice of woods was walnut and cherry. I have not finished them yet , for comfort but here they are.Attachment 4603

    In this next photo you see walnut on the top, cherry midway and walnut sapwood on the bottom.Attachment 4600
    Mind you I was in N. Virginia so the wood was probably the same.
    This photo is the heel but you see on the bottom where the sap wood changes to the heartwood. I believe I used an amber colored oil on them.This photo is actually the attached thumbnail .
    Last picture is the toe of one "would be clog".Attachment 4602
    You see the cherry on top, sapwood walnut next and the walnut heartwood last. Hope this is some help.
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  10. #10
    Ian may be right in personal opinions having a great influence as to which woods to use. Often (in dealing with antique furniture that was hand made) the Craftsman's Skill and Personal Abilities were influence by (stability, compatibility, workability, availability) Old time craftsmen (as well as today's modern "geniuses") considered these "Abilities" when selecting their project parts.

    I know from personal experiences that when you use (mix) dissimilar woods such as Deciduous, & Conifers, they react differently to ambiant seasonal changes and the result is often failure of the structure. But, these two species we have been discussing are similar in their structure and work well together.

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