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Help - my cherry faded in too much sunlight!

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Forum topic by MattinCincy posted 1708 days ago 2768 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MattinCincy

128 posts in 1787 days


1708 days ago

I was hoping to get some help here – many years ago I built a small cabinet from solid cherry and finished it with Maloof’s oil/poly and oil/wax system and it turned out beautifully, gracefully aging to a nice dark color. About a year ago I had to move the piece and placed it in front of a south facing window. Within months, the top of the cabinet began to lighten and fade, and now it looks totally washed out – almost like it was bleached! I had heard that this can happen, but I never heard if it can be reversed. Does anyone know what I can do?

Thanks in advance!

-- Wag more, bark less.


19 replies so far

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2159 days


#1 posted 1707 days ago

Cherry will darken from uv exposure, not lighten. This is why you should not leave a cherry piece in one location for long while in direct sunlight.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2455 days


#2 posted 1707 days ago

Matt, the idea that the wood is bleached surprises me. How about posting some pictures of the cabinet.

I have never heard of cherry being bleached by exposure to sunlight. As Julian commented exposure to light darkens cherry rather than bleaching it. Just guessing I would suspect that the color change you are seeing is a change in the finish rather than the wood.

In looking at the msds for the Maloof Oil/Wax finish it is not recommeded for areas that will get exposure to heat or moisture. It is possible that what you are seeing is a reaction of the wax finish to the heat from sitting in the sun.

Basically the Maloof oil/wax formula is just equal parts of BLO and raw tung oil with small amounts of carnuba and bees wax added. This should be readily removed with mineral spirits. I would suggest if you want to try this to do so in an inconspicious area first and see if it improves the look of the cabinet.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112016 posts in 2211 days


#3 posted 1707 days ago

I’m with the rest of the gang cherry darkens in sun light are you sure this was not walnut because it does lighten.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2519 days


#4 posted 1707 days ago

Me too…..Wild Black Cherry grown in the USA will darken with exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Karson's profile

Karson

34870 posts in 3034 days


#5 posted 1707 days ago

I’m not sure what you are experiencing, but it goes against what I’ve experienced with cherry. and it aging in color. I guess I’d also consider the finish and what might have happened there.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View MattinCincy's profile

MattinCincy

128 posts in 1787 days


#6 posted 1706 days ago

Thanks, guys. I know that cherry darkens with age and UV exposure – this piece darkened beautifully over many years before this happened. Granted, the decision to put it in direct southern exposure light probably wasn’t te best idea, but I didn’t expect this. I’ll try to post some pics that show what I mean.

Scott B. – I didn’t consider the Maloof finish as a culprit – I might try removing the finish on the piece and refinishing with new oil – that might work. Thanks!

-- Wag more, bark less.

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1796 posts in 1824 days


#7 posted 1706 days ago

Yes i’d like to see the pictures and here the responce from more experienced wood workers.
How the color of wood changes over time is of great intrest to me.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Taigert's profile

Taigert

593 posts in 2474 days


#8 posted 1705 days ago

Like Jim said it really sounds like Walnut

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View 747DRVR's profile

747DRVR

199 posts in 1990 days


#9 posted 1705 days ago

You mentioned an oil/wax system.I am not sure what that means but I would try and remove the wax and apply a new coat.I dont find a problem leaving cherry exposed to sunlight for a long period of time as long as you have nothing sitting on top of the cabinet and it can get equal light on all visible sides

View Sawdust2's profile

Sawdust2

1467 posts in 2721 days


#10 posted 1705 days ago

I agree with the others about cherry darkening in sunlight.

If it really is cherry, after you remove the finish that is on it you can spray it will diluted lye. Just a spray bottle with some diluted Drano. Just make sure you do it in an open area and wear a respirator.

Makes a beautiful mellow color that IMHO comes after 10-15 years of exposure.

Lee

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View miles125's profile

miles125

2179 posts in 2639 days


#11 posted 1705 days ago

I’m not so sure its the UV from sunlight but more likely just the air exposure that is responsible for cherry darkening. The way to test it is to use a bleaching process (which is what sunlight is) on the cherry and see if it darkens it…My guess is that it will lighten.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View amcharn's profile

amcharn

5 posts in 1710 days


#12 posted 1704 days ago

Could the fading be due to the old finish drying out from the sun exposure. The wood itself, as everyone has said, will darken. I have a walnut sofa table that has been hit with sunlight in one corner for years, and “looks” lighter in that area because the oil finish is completely dried out.

-- Al, Indiana http://uniqueboxart.com

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2948 days


#13 posted 1704 days ago

Could you have used the sap wood of cherry for the top? When I’ve used knotty cherry I get some very white boards. I’m not sure if the sap wood would react the same as the heart wood.

View joesf's profile

joesf

25 posts in 522 days


#14 posted 174 days ago

Cherry will bleach if left in a window with intense sunlight. It happened to a small table I built some time ago which consisted of some sap wood and mostly heart wood. The salmon color of the heart wood bleached out as did the sap wood. It was one of the first projects I finished and not knowing anything I put the “Good Stuff” on it. It looked great . The sap wood was a nice brown and the heart wood a deeper brown. Then one day a lamp on the table got moved and I realized the table really faded. The legs facing the window were bleached light while the sides away kept their darker color. But was is in front of a 12 foot by 6 foot window so it got a real lot of intense sun.
I just stripped the while thing and have placed the top in the window to dry to get rid of the dark circle from the lamp. It is getting lighter and some of the bleached spots seem to maybe be tinted a little brown but really not getting darker.
So yes too much sun will bleach cherry Especially if it has the good stuff on it and it stays that way when the product is removed. At least for now.

View Karson's profile

Karson

34870 posts in 3034 days


#15 posted 173 days ago

I’ve had a piece of cherry in the windshield of my car for about 2 years. (Someday I’ll take it and finish the toy) It has had no finish applied and it is quite bleached out.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

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