In an attempt to find a finish for curly cherry I have run some tests. I am looking for a finish that (a) brings out the chatoyance, (b) keeps the cherry color close to the natural, and (b) doesn’t muddy up the grain (keeps its contrast).
Here are the results so far on the same board sanded to grit 150. Four different schedules oriented top to bottom (Note: no topcoat so far!):
(a) two coats of ruby shellac 1 lb. cut;
(b) two coats of “Zinsser SealCoat” shellac;
(c) two coats “Minwax Tung Oil Finish”;
(d) two coats of “Watco Danish Oil”.
I then coated the left third of each schedule with a coat of 2 lb. cut ruby shellac, this is why it’s darker.
What I have learned: All four are not significantly different from each other, except that the (a) sample may be visibly darker than the rest. The “oils” keep the contrast in the grain and between sapwood and heartwood. The “shellacs” bring out somewhat deeper and shinier chatoyance than the “oils”, not by far but obvious. In the “shellacs”, the sapwood is barely different from heartwood in color. The “shellacs” give darker tone compared to the “oils”.
Here are close-ups of the “oils” and shellacs:
I plan to use a poly varnish as a topcoat, either GF Arm-R-Seal or SW Wood Classics.
-- "If you're not counting the ripples when throwing pebbles in the water, you're wasting your time."