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Thread: blotchy spots in cherry wood

  1. #1

    blotchy spots in cherry wood

    I glued up a dresser top (20"*60") from cherry. Tonight I ran it through the drum sander to flatten. I have some sections that look very blotchy almost as if they are dirty. My next step is to wipe with denatured alcohol to see if it may be figuring, not sure.
    Has anyone seen this before? Any suggestions on what to try.

  2. #2
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    https://thefinishingstore.com/blogs/...tching-problem

    Personally - I feel it adds to the beauty of Cherry to have it blotchy like that - but - that's just me.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
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  3. #3
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    I read an article by Chris Becksvoort that advocates sanding cherry to a very fine grit as a means to prevent blotching. As I recall, he claimed he really doesn't have any issues when he does this. I have to say I'm in the same camp as Rich. I think it adds to the organic look unless it's really extreme.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

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    The differences in appearances within the woodgrain are because of the changing directions and density of the fibers. It's a natural, normal thing and during the finishing task, those differences in the actual woodgrain and also have differences in absorption of a product and how light is reflected. Some folks, like myself, embrace that; others use various methods to help control/even absorption of finish. It's a subjective thing. Also keep in mind that the effect often mitigates over time as the cherry naturally darkens from UV/oxidation.
    --

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

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    The differences in appearances within the woodgrain are because of the changing directions and density of the fibers. It's a natural, normal thing and during the finishing task, those differences in the actual woodgrain and also have differences in absorption of a product and how light is reflected. Some folks, like myself, embrace that; others use various methods to help control/even absorption of finish. It's a subjective thing. Also keep in mind that the effect often mitigates over time as the cherry naturally darkens from UV/oxidation.
    +1^ When 'blotch' reaches a certain critical mass, we call it 'curl' and the price doubles!

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    If by chance you are going to stain the piece, there are wood conditioner products that will even out the absorption of stain. I've used it on Pine with good results. Haven't tried on Cherry.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Jungdahl View Post
    I glued up a dresser top (20"*60") from cherry. Tonight I ran it through the drum sander to flatten. I have some sections that look very blotchy almost as if they are dirty. My next step is to wipe with denatured alcohol to see if it may be figuring, not sure.
    Has anyone seen this before? Any suggestions on what to try.
    Is this what you are seeing?IMG_6005_edited-1.jpg

    It looks like this from the other side.IMG_6006_edited-1.jpg

    Both are typical curly cherry with a clear lacquer finish.
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  8. #8
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    I’m assuming you haven’t added a finish yet. Dark spots or streaks in cherry could either be “gum spots” caused by insect damage, or cherry rot (as described in this past post...https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....eaks-in-cherry).

    I built a table some time ago that had gum spots/streaks like these...

    FDED49AE-785B-4338-BC21-C7D89B84F309.jpg


    not much to do about it, but just consider it character.

  9. #9
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    Maybe the acceptability, or the difference between figure and ugly, is in the eye of the beholder. But in my example, I think everyone would agree its ugly:
    blotch.jpg
    It does indeed look like dirt thrown on it, and doesn't follow any pattern of the grain to be called figure. If the OP's blotch looks like this (note: when just cut, not finished!) I'd say its a problem. I saw a whole kitchen done in cherry with ugly blotch like this, being referred to as "rustic cherry".

    Maybe gel stain is a good option?
    PS this was not from bad surface prep. Scratches were added after the fact. One coat BLO (blotches appear) and shellac.
    Last edited by Stan Calow; 08-12-2021 at 10:21 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Calow View Post
    Maybe the acceptability, or the difference between figure and ugly, is in the eye of the beholder. But in my example, I think everyone would agree its ugly:
    blotch.jpg
    It does indeed look like dirt thrown on it, and doesn't follow any pattern of the grain to be called figure. If the OP's blotch looks like this (note: when just cut, not finished!) I'd say its a problem. I saw a whole kitchen done in cherry with ugly blotch like this, being referred to as "rustic cherry".

    Maybe gel stain is a good option?
    PS this was not from bad surface prep. Scratches were added after the fact. One coat BLO (blotches appear) and shellac.

    That looks like sapwood to me. I see that pretty often when sawing cherry logs, until I get down to the heartwood.

    Every time I've tried BLO on cherry it brings out the blotching, even on wood I thought would show no tendency to do so. To me it's ugly so I try to use wood that doesn't blotch whenever possible. If you wipe a board with DNA or MS you will see whether or not it's going to be a problem. So or a project I wan to use an oil finish on I look for those boards. When forced to use lumber that I know would blotch if I used oil I don't. That means spraying dye because it will add uniform color, or spraying clearcoat. Sealing the surface and then using a glaze will also add color without blotching.

    If you like the look of blotchy wood, fine. But if you are convincing yourself that it looks OK because you don't know how to minimize it then it's worth some effort to develop finishing techniques to deal with it.

    John
    Last edited by John TenEyck; 08-12-2021 at 11:06 AM.

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