• Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by USCJeff posted 12-10-2007 06:13 AM 1991 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4031 days

12-10-2007 06:13 AM

I’m having my first experience with Cherry on some small projects I’m doing for the Holidays. I’m learning that it has some unique properties that present some challenges. Namely, the sap/heart wood contrast very apparently. What do you all do to make the board more uniform. I’ve seen a few people using dye, but that seems tricky in mixing and matching the colors. Any thoughts?

-- Jeff, South Carolina

8 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4363 days

#1 posted 12-10-2007 06:23 AM

Remember that the contrast is in the eyes of the beholder.

Cherry ages. if you make the sapwood the color of the other wood, it won’t last long because the heart wood will age on its own.

My suggestion use it as is, or cut off the sap and use heart cherry boards to get the amount that you need of heartwood.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14171 posts in 3946 days

#2 posted 12-10-2007 06:27 AM

I agree with Karson. cherry sapwood is attractive, especially if it is intentially placed in the piece.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3960 days

#3 posted 12-11-2007 09:38 AM

I’m working with cherry on a bed right now- I chose to cut off the sap or locate it where it wouldn’t be seen for this particular project, going for a consistent uniform color and appearance. That said, I agree with the others that the sap contrast could be used to a nice effect if done thoughtfully! Also, I think what Karson pointed out was important re: dye…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4090 days

#4 posted 12-11-2007 01:44 PM


My chosen genre is rustic.
I want to see the contrast between heart and sap wood.
I try to use the difference in colors to accentuate my designs.

However, time and exposure to sunlight will change the colors of the cherry and
can mellow the contrast.

I’ve used Potassium Bichromate (Dichromate) to age the cherry and get it closer
to where it wants to go naturally.

Ammonia fuming is another trick. Hazmat suit is optional. <grin>

-- 温故知新

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4031 days

#5 posted 12-11-2007 05:22 PM

Good points. I only bought 10 BF of it, but I would have chosen the boards differently had I known I would use them for what I’m doing. The contrast is not what I need in this project, so I’ll probably save them for another day. There really isn’t a logical way to cut out the sapwood that would leave decent size stock to work with on these particular boards. I’m doing some small things and I think the contrast would make the look too “busy” on the smaller decor items. Ammonia fuming is a bit too nasty for me! Many things to master before I give that a shot.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View SPalm's profile


5317 posts in 3845 days

#6 posted 12-11-2007 06:08 PM

I have used grocery store lye diluted in water to age cherry, but just as father time, it does not completely hide the sapwood. Something else about cherry is you can get dark burn marks quite easily with dull or slow tools. If you have to rip or even route the edges, remember to do it quickly.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3837 days

#7 posted 12-11-2007 07:21 PM

Please don’t Dye!

I look for those boards with the contrasting heart/sapwood because they are so much more interesting than the uniform lumber. They are harder to find because lumber yards tend to choose the uniform stuff. If that’s not the look you are going for use a different piece of wood or cut strategically.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 3851 days

#8 posted 12-11-2007 08:32 PM


If you match the boards carefully, the effect you can get with the contrast is amazing. I usually try to highlight the contrast rather than hide it. Even to a piece of furniture, the contrast can add a lot of visual interest. I’m with Blake completely on this one.

One trick used by the lumber makers is to steam the cherry. This makes the color from the heart wood to migrate to the sap wood. It makes the cherry cloudy though and not so good looking.


-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics