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I recently came by some 50 year old cherry rough sawn into 10-11 inch boards. Even though the wood appears quite solid, once it's planed to a finished surface many tiny worm holes have appeared. For furniture making how much of this can shown and how much is just considered "distressed"? Do I have options in how I can use the wood?
Cherry, oak and hickory sometimes contains worm holes, knots, and wild grain veins that originally carried nourishment to the trees when they were alive. All of these characteristics were stamped into the tree by nature, and in no way reduces the quality of furniture grade lumber used in cabinetry. In fact, unique graining, tight knots, color, burls, wormholes and quarter sawn flecking are a few of the characteristics that furniture makers look for while selecting wood for a project.
As a point of reference, the Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association grading rules include "worm holes" in their "clear lumber" category.
There is book by Albert Jackson and David Day (Authors of the Complete Manual of Woodworkng) titled Collins Good Wood Handbook: The Woodworker's Guide to Identifying, Selecting and Using the Right Wood It is a handy reference book that gives advice on the characteristics, uses and work-ability of 21 softwoods and 56 hardwoods.
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