I was meeting with a customer and we were going over the details of the job and discussing the wood that I was going to use for their bookshelves – cherry, as you might have guessed.

I was going on about how much I like cherry and was making sure to plug the fact that I mill my own trees. During our discussion, which was mostly me talking and him nodding, he asked, ”Well, how big do cherry trees get?” (Above, a cherry log felled by a tornado.)

I knew then that he was wondering what I was wondering when I started cutting trees. How do you

get big boards from such little orchard trees? I explained to him that it wasn’t the type of cherry tree he was picturing. It was an American Black Cherry, which grows in the forest, mixed with other hardwoods. (Above, a young Martin Goebel in love with a log.)

His next question was, “But, it doesn’t have cherries does it?” As a matter of fact it does. They aren’t big and they are in a cluster that looks like grapes, but they are fruit that birds love to eat, and they are definitely cherries.

Then I thought and quickly asked, “Are you ready to be shocked? I bet that you have one right here in your yard and don’t even know it.” I wasn’t going too far out on a limb because I had just driven down a long gravel drive with upland hardwoods to get to his house. I hadn’t specifically spotted a cherry tree, but I could smell them (not literally).

As we talked more, our discussion went back and forth from the piece of furniture that I am going to make, to the wood that I am going to use, and we talked more about how big the cherry trees get. I explained that they get big like any hardwood lumber tree, but are on the smaller end of the scale overall.

An average log size in this area is about 14″-15″ in diameter, inside the bark, on the skinny end. However, it isn’t uncommon for them to be larger. The main problem with larger and older logs is that they tend to have punky/rotten areas in the center of the log, so many bigger logs don’t get milled.

For fun (as always) and to prove that they get bigger than orchard trees, I thought I would share a few photos of my larger finds. Notice that we are not phased at all by the size of the larger logs. It’s routine for us.

By the way, as I left his property, I saw a couple of small cherry trees and I am sure that there are more.

At left: This is the widest solid slab of cherry that I have seen (about 32″). It isn’t rotten in the middle, which is uncommon for a cherry this big.

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