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Thread: How to finish Cherry wood.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    New Lenox, Illinois

    How to finish Cherry wood.

    I've never worked with cherry before. I recently scored about 100BF of cherry that has almost no figure or knots at all. Talk about "clear" wood, this is it! Additionaly, this wood is very pale when worked. I understand that setting the piece in the sun will oxidize the wood causing it to darken.

    My normal finishing process is 4 coats of Maloof Ploy/Oil finish then about 4 coats of Semi-gloss Arm-R-Seal. This has worked well for me.

    The big question is; Should I put the piece in the sun before or after the finishing??? Will the project darken AFTER I've finished the piece and set it in the sun????

    I'd HATE to stain this beautiful wood but it is REALLY pale.

    Thanks in advance for your help....... Ken
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Cherry darkens naturally from both oxidation and UV exposure. It does take time (years) to do so, but UV exposure (sunlight) can accellerate the first effects quite noticably...not to the ultimate darkness, however.

    I personally prefer to oil it before any "exposure". My normal regimen for cherry starts with a liberal application of BLO that is allowed to soak in for about a half hour before wiping any excess off. I allow that to cure for a few days and then apply a coat of dewaxed garnet shellac. In some cases, that "is" the finish. In others, it's a barrier layer to seal the oil and provide a good surface to apply other finishing products, such as the clear acrylic water bourn finishes I normally spray or an oil-based varnish of one form or another that I wipe on. Decorative items often just get the BLO and wax...I happen to like how it looks and how easy it is to do.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    San Dimas, CA
    I recently built a small hall table from cherry, the legs/carcase were an ongoing project for about a year, it had oxidized beautifully by the time the finish went on.. which was a light shellac. the top however was a piece of very figured cherry.. once planed was too "pink" for the rest of the table. I set it outside brought it in each night.. I left it out two sunlight, darkened the pink to a better balanced caramel for the rest of the table. So in this case.. a year or so in a normally lit shop was equal to about two summer days in california. Just my .02.

    BTW, I did a cabinet job for a customer earlier this year, cherry in a modern shaker styled door. unfortunately I could not convince the customer to let the wood darken on its own. Let me tell you ...cherry can be fussy if you don't control the absorbtion...ultimately my partner and I came up with a thinned lacquer sanding sealer methoc that worked nice.. it was applied like this:

    1. sand to a 150 grit finish, and apply sanding sealer.. our mix was 1 part Dunn Edwards clear lacquer to 2 parts lacquer thinner.
    2. sand to 220, reapply the sealer
    3. lightly sand at 220 (mostly to remove any heavy layers of sealer)
    4. clean sanding dust with lacquer thinner and clean rags.
    5. apply stain, in this case it candlelight I believe by General ( a very rich warm color)
    6 seal and enjoy

    all in all it was a time consuming process, but the results were blotching, all the well chosen grain was highlighted, and the customer was happy.

  4. #4

    I like to use "witches brew" on Cherry, it is 1/3 Poly, 1/3 BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil) and 1/3 Mineral spirits or naptha. It goes on great and exposes the rich color of the cherry greatly.

    Also, Cherry darkens over time and becomes REALLY beutiful!
    Jeff Sudmeier

    "It's not the quality of the tool being used, it's the skills of the craftsman using the tool that really matter. Unfortunately, I don't have high quality in either"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Granbury, TX
    I am no expert, but I use a couple coats of BLO, then let it sit in the sun for a day (that would be Texas sun, Illinois sun may require two days, especially in winter). Then I finish with 3 or maybe 4 coats of Waterlox Original, until it looks right.
    Martin, Granbury, TX
    Student of the Shaker style

  6. #6
    my favorite finish is pretty simple, use an oil to "pop" the grain, let dry 24hrs, two or three thinned coats of amber shellac,sand w/320, satin lacquer top coat. i haven`t found a difference in letting cherry age before the finish or after, the more uv it gets the quicker the initial patina. .02 tod

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2004
    N Illinois
    I usually go with a liberal (heavy) coat of BLO and then let it cure a week. Until you can no longer smell it. Then follow Jim's regimen above...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Patriot, OH
    Here is what I use

    1. Dampen the surface with Mineral spirits and use a card scraper pulled toward me to take out any last tears that you might have.
    2. Mix 25% BLO with 75% mineral spirits and brush on and let sit for around 1/2 hour and wipe off excess.
    3. The next day sit in sun
    4. Back into the shop for a cote of 50% BLO 50 % Mineral spirits. Wipe off extra after 15 min. Let dry for at least 24 hours
    5. Then a 75% BLO and 25% Mineral spirits. Wipe off extra after 15 min. let dry at least 24 hours.
    6. Last a mix of 95% BLO with 5% mineral spirits. Wipe off extra after 15 min. let dry for several days and repete as necessary to your liking I usually give at least 2 coats.
    7. Let dry at least 4 days
    8. Wax on wax off

    Real nice finish
    Take care
    Bob Oehler

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