Key Differences Between Cherry And Mahogany

Cherishing beautiful wood is not a new thing. Sculpture, furniture, and buildings constructed from high quality wood all over the world date back generations. Two such prized woods are Cherry and Mahogany. Many people have problems telling Cherry and Mahogany apart because of their many similarities, and it’s no wonder why: Both are dark reddish brown lumbers used in skillful furniture making, decorative millwork, and flooring. Asking and expert, like those trained at J. Gibson McIlvain, about the differences between these two woods will make differentiating between the two a bit easier, thus assisting you with choosing the correct wood for your next project.

Type of Wood

Every wood has a heartwood and sapwood. Cherry and Mahogany differ quite starkly in this area. Cherry has narrow sapwood with color from white to deep reddish brown. Surprisingly, the sapwood can also be a creamy pink. In contrast, mahogany sapwood appears yellowish white. Mahogany sapwood is also less insect and rot resistant than cherry.

Cherry heartwood has a darker hue than the sapwood. Its fine and uniform texture appears deep red or reddish brown, and cherry also contains brown flecks and gum pockets. Freshly cut Mahogany heartwood is yellow, red, salmon, or pink, and these pale hues darken into deep reddish browns. Some dark gum pockets and white spots can occur in Mahogany.


The grain of the wood is important to how easy it will be to work. Cherry has a fine, uniform grain pattern with rich, dark, wavy streaks. Quatersawing cherry displays these waves best. Mahogany, on the other hand, has a uniform grain ranging from very fine to extremely coarse. Typically straight, Mahogany grain also contains interlocking patterns like blisters, mottles, and fiddle backs.

A wood’s grain also helps to determine it’s stability. Cherry is fairly stable in the lumber world, but Mahogany is inherently supreme when it comes to stability.

Individual Working Properties

The third difference between Cherry and Mahogany involves their working properties. Both are premium woods that give clean cuts with power tools and hand tools, but Mahogany tends towards splintering if the tools are not sharp enough. The open grain pattern in Mahogany is very responsive to sanding and planing, but the lumber’s large pores need sealing before a final coating for a smooth finish. Cherry also needs a finish to even out its density.

Cherry and Mahogany are both hardwoods. However, Cherry is the softer of the two, and there are many other hardwoods that are denser than both of these woods. Because of their relative softness, both woods boast great workability, making them perfect for interior applications. Cherry and Mahogany can both last a lifetime in the right environment.

Despite their differences, Cherry and Mahogany have many similarities. If you still have questions about the differences between these two gorgeous hardwoods, allow McIlvain Company to help you decide which is best for your next project. They carry premium boards of both types of lumber in a variety of lengths, widths, and thicknesses. An industry leader for over 200 years, no one is better qualified than McIlvain to help answer your lumber questions. For more information on this great lumber wholesaler and to see their selection of domestic and exotic lumbers, visit today, or check out these selections from their lumber blog:

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