How to get consistent tone in poorly-matched cherry boards

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Forum topic by GeoffKatz posted 09-15-2016 12:49 PM 556 views 1 time favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 422 days

09-15-2016 12:49 PM

Hi. I’m working on a large dresser from cherry. I had some limitations in board selection, and maybe a few mental mistakes in my panel layout. The result being that most of my glued-up and cut-to-size panels have inconsistent color, with some boards being darker and some lighter.

My initial finish plan was to use 50% sealer as a washcoat, then 2 coats of danish oil, followed by 2-3 coats of water based wipe-on poly. This looked pretty good in my tests, but those were of a single board. When I tested the same treatment on a cutoff from my actual panel, the striping wasn’t masked nearly as well as I’d hoped.

So I think I need to change my finishing plan to use some sort of a stain, to darken everything to at least the level of the darkest boards in my panels. I hate the idea of masking the cherry, but I really want more consistency in the panels. Does anyone have suggestions on a finish plan that might unify the boards in my panels, but not take away too much character from the underlying cherry?


4 replies so far

View bonesbr549's profile


1137 posts in 2490 days

#1 posted 09-15-2016 01:07 PM

I love love love cherry! Its mostly what i work with. I made a hutch for my wife, that to get consistent color bought a whole flitch. Obviously you can’t always do that and I’ve worked with many pieces that I’ve done where color can be an issue.

One question is is it kiln dried and was it steamed. Steemed cherry is a little different beast and I avoid if possible.

Good news is it will all even out over time. On the other hand sap wood will become more pronounced.

If you can’t wait for that evening out, then I’d suggest toning the lighter cherry or whole piece with dye’s (not stain). You can do a lot to even out color with dyes and once you do your top coats you will never know.

I’d reccomend Charles Neil’s dvd’s on dyes and finishing worth every penny and a nickle more. I use his recipe on cherry that is awesome

First Link is a bed where the 12/4” post material was very different from the rail material. Wife wanted it to look 100 years old right away so color.

The Second link is the hutch that is just natural cherry.

Some of the boards are darker and you can tell. However in the three years since that pic was taken they have gotten darker and are getting closer to being seamless, but in all honesty it looks awesome and everybody loves it that see’s it and wants me to build one just like it….. till i tell them how much it will cost. :)

Good luck.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View GeoffKatz's profile


24 posts in 422 days

#2 posted 09-15-2016 01:16 PM

Thanks! I love cherry as well, but I need some practice on working with it for sure. I believe mine is kiln-dried. I know it will darken over time, but I think it could take several years, which I don’t want to wait for.

I’ve never worked with dyes before (I’m pretty new to the entire business). Are there any specific products that work well for cherry I should look for? Would the new cycle be washcoat → dye → poly? Do dyes apply similarly to stains?

I certainly will take a look at Charles Neil and other resources as well.

View Kirk650's profile


272 posts in 171 days

#3 posted 09-15-2016 01:55 PM

My favorite dye for cherry is JE Moser’s Dark Wine Cherry. It’s water soluble, and I apply with a foam brush. That’ll help you even out the shading. Over that I apply a coat of Watco Danish Oil as a sealer, followed by 4 coats of Waterlox Original satin. All applied with foam brushes. Allow two days for the Danish Oil to fully dry before you put the Waterlox over it.

View bbasiaga's profile


731 posts in 1418 days

#4 posted 09-15-2016 03:49 PM

Garnet shellac is also popular over cherry. You could experiment with that to see how well it evens out.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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