Matching a finish on a older cherry cabinet

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Forum topic by Shayne posted 02-26-2010 08:27 PM 4617 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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50 posts in 3707 days

02-26-2010 08:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m making a new Cabinet for my anut and she wants the finish to match her kitchen cabinets which are made from Cherry and she said that it is a natural finish. I found that the company the did the kitchen is no longer around. So I can’t tell what was used by it as a slight sheen to the cabinet and it has been darking up. I have found a stain to match the color. I think the finish maybe a tung oil but I’m not sure? My question is what are the most comond finishes for natural finish on cherry cabinets can any help me with this?


6 replies so far

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3723 days

#1 posted 02-26-2010 08:35 PM

just an FYI, cherry darkens with exposure to light over time. if you stain it to match now, it will not match in the future when it darkens.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3723 days

#2 posted 02-26-2010 08:37 PM

you might want to just apply some polyurethane to the cabinets and let them darken over time. the poly is usually a good cabinet finish that doesn’t add too much color but it somewhat wear resistant.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3817 days

#3 posted 02-26-2010 09:02 PM

If these were commerically supplied cabinets the finish was probably lacquer. If you want to try and tell what was applied try this in an inconspicious area:

Wipe the area first with a little mineral spirits to remove any built up wax residue.

After the mineral spirits dries apply a little boiled linseed oil to an inconspicious area. If it is absorbed by the cabinets then you have an oil finish. If they have a lacquer/conversion varnish topcoat the BLO will just bead up on the surface.

Use a cotton swab or q-tip and dip it in denatured alcohol. If it quickly dissolves the finish then it is shellac. A varnish topcoat will react over time with the alcohol but it will be slowly.

Try another one with aceone. If the finish dissolves then it is lacquer. Shellac and varnishes will get tacky and poly will be unaffected.

I tend to agree with Hokiemojo about staining the cabinets. A couple of things you might want to try with some scrap cherry to see if you can match the color of the cabinets are (1) apply a base coat of boiled linseed oil. This will add some “tone” to the cherry and give is a slightly darker appearance that would come from aging. After the BLO has dried apply your topcoat of choice. (2) Expose the raw cherry to the sun for 2 to 3 week before applying blo and/or a finish. Suntanning the wood in this fashion ages it quickly and gives it a natural color.

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

View Shayne's profile


50 posts in 3707 days

#4 posted 02-27-2010 12:43 AM

Thanks for the ideas but I will not have that much time to cook it under the sun. I think she will be okay with the matched stain. I’m try to figure out the slight sheen it has. I do know it’s not a poly finish because I use that on all of my projects I do. Even when I refinish something. It looks alike one coat of a satin finish. I know you would have to see it before you could tell what it is. I’m not the best when it comes to finishes.


View wisno's profile


88 posts in 3006 days

#5 posted 02-27-2010 05:17 PM

I think you better to use modern finishing material such as nc lacquer, pu or precat.
To match the cherry color you should choose the right stain.
And you may need to do spray application to get the best result.


View Paul_F's profile


67 posts in 3031 days

#6 posted 02-27-2010 05:18 PM

As mentioned earlier cherry will darken with age so if you do a perfect job matching today without letting the cherry ‘age’ it will be wrong in the next 1-2 years. The butterfly leaf pictured is about 4 years old and has been inverted exposing the underside. It had a cherry Watco oil applied with 2 coats of varnish. The stripe is where the leaf sits on a cross member when stored (most of the time) and thus sun/light seldom gets to that portion. If you are dealing with natural cherry then you can expect this sort of change.

-- Dust to more Dust -

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