While we have some black cherry native to New Hampshire it can’t compare to the wood that comes from the forests of Pennsylvania.  Not surprisingly Pennsylvania not only has some of the best hardwood in the country, it also has some of the best suppliers of that hardwood and when you are looking for that special stock for a piece of period furniture you will be making a few of these sources are worth checking out.  Now when you are buying premium stock you will be paying premium prices and the bill can quickly run into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars and parting with that kind of cash isn’t easy even when you can visit the lumber yard and pick out the stock yourself. Just this week I ordered and received some amazing stock which prompted me to share my thoughts on sourcing cherry or other hardwoods…and Fine Woodworking also had an article on this subject in their most recent issue. When you are buying material long distance a high degree of trust must be placed in the supplier.  I have had experience with a few sources in Pennsylvania, some of whom I have visited and others that I have done business with only by e-mail and phone.  Here is my take on a few of those sources (click on the highlighted text to go to their website)… feel free to add your comments with your own experiences and other potential sources for hardwood.

This weeks purchase was from a new source for me.  I purchase two flitches of curly cherry from Horizon Wood Products and they delivered exactly what was expected with excellent service.  I knew of them from SAPFM and had seen some posts from people on various forums.  They post pictures of much of their inventory on their website and were very helpful when I called.  The two flitches came to almost 300BF of material, 10 feet in length with some of the boards 18″ wide”.  When I ordered the material, I was told it could be delivered in a day or two and we arranged a suitable delivery date.  So, how did this new “blind” purchase experience turn out?  Well, the material arrived on the day we scheduled it and was perfectly palletized, banded and wrapped in plastic.  Each piece of stock has a bar coded label on it which contains the log number and sequence and was exactly as described on their website.  Due to low wires from the recent storms, the trailer couldn’t back into the driveway, but the driver helped me move the stock to the garage.  The curl in the cherry was amazing, the amount of sapwood minimal, and the overall quality of the stock was excellent.  What does it cost to have this kind of material delivered from Western PA to your door in NH?  Well, it’s not cheap, but not as bad as you might expect!  Purchasing two flitches, the material itself was under 9.00BF and deliver added just about 1.00BF to the cost, so at around 10.00BF delivered for wide, 6/4, sequenced, curly cherry I consider this a very fair price.  Local plain cherry in widths over 9″ runs over 7.50BF at the yard.  Two thumbs up for Horizon Wood Products.

I’ve also purchased stock from Irion Lumber in Wellsboro PA.  I have visited Irion as well, and they have a 150BF minimum for shipment but no minimum at the yard. They are really specialists in supplying figured maple, cherry, walnut, and mahogany to period furniture makers and have full flitches and sequenced stock on hand.  They are also a great source for wide stock.  While they have no pictures of the boards on line, I would have no hesitation calling them, describing the project you have in mind and ordering stock sight unseen.

Further south in PA you have Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford, PA.  Another location that I have visited and purchased from in person, I have no experience from them buying on line but have heard positive comments from many who have.  They have some stock listed on-line with pictures, but that s only a fraction of their inventory.  Well worth a look, and again, no hesitation from me in buying from Hearne.

Not far from Hearne is another great source, Groff & Groff in Quarryville PA.   Groff’s website is minimal, but a phone call to them will get you all of the information that you need and my experience in purchasing from them has been excellent.  You can buy as little as a single board or a full flitch, and the service is personal and if they don’t have what you are looking for, they will try to find it.

For highly figured maple and curly cherry, Paul Taran at MapleLeaf Hardwoods will have just what you need.  Be sure to check out the “private stock” pages for some exceptional (and very pricey) material!  I’ve not bought any cherry from Paul, but have bought some outstanding curly maple from him and the service and quality has been outstanding.  The private stock material is all photographed with pictures and full descriptions on the website.

Well, just a few of my favorite PA sources have been listed here.  Of course, I buy most of my material from local sources in NH whenever I can find what I am looking for and a quick look at the Guild’s “resources” page will list local sources who also provide Guild members a discount.  So be sure to check out our local suppliers as well!!

Roger Myers

Period Furniture Group