Cherry finishing question

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Forum topic by dakremer posted 07-09-2010 06:09 AM 3917 views 1 time favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2730 posts in 3267 days

07-09-2010 06:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry question

I’ve heard Cherry doesnt take stain very well? Is there other things Cherry doesnt take well, or should be avoided with cherry? And the opposite…what works really well with Cherry (coloring, finishing, etc)? Thanks a lot!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

24 replies so far

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 3312 days

#1 posted 07-09-2010 06:43 AM

Is there a certain color your trying to get? I’ve worked with Cherry a good bit, but I’m definitely not an expert and it’s taking stain great for me.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

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2730 posts in 3267 days

#2 posted 07-09-2010 06:51 AM

I guess I’m not looking for any color in particular. I just got some cherry, so am working with it for the first time. Not sure if i’m even going to stain it. I just heard it doesnt take stain well? maybe that was false advice. Is it blotchy at all? do you need a wood conditioner before staining cherry?

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3217 days

#3 posted 07-09-2010 06:52 AM

As far as I know Cherry takes stain well. I don’t think most stain Cherry because it is beautiful just natural and darkens over time. I have stained a few project per the customer, I had no problems. You can use General Finish Gel stain or I have used Minwax also. I use wipe on poly (minwax) for a finish. I believe some will use a shellac prior to stain.

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3949 days

#4 posted 07-09-2010 08:30 AM

Use Charles Neil’s Pre- Color Conditioner before staining. The stuff works great! I used it on a crib and dresser I am working on.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 3312 days

#5 posted 07-09-2010 08:33 AM

I’ve never used a conditioner on cherry, nor has it been blotchy. I used a paste that was Brown Mahogany and then sprayed on Dark Walnut. I’m not at the shop so I can’t give you the exact names, but if your interested you can send me a PM. OH, and then I finished with Laquer hope this helps.

I agree with Tom; you can get some great information from Charles about finishing. I’ve just never used the conditioner.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3246 days

#6 posted 07-09-2010 09:13 AM

Firstly good luck with your future & well done. About the Cherry in my experience the straight grained boards seem to accept a gel stain ok it’s when you get curly grain where it seems to hang in blotches where the grain changes direction, but in truth Cherry is such a beautiful wood & matures to a lovely colour (except for the pale sapwood) I personally don’t stain it anymore & why would you? if you want it to look darker use walnut. I’m sure if you look in your shop you may find a little laying around. Ha! Ha!
Good luck & God bless

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4253 days

#7 posted 07-09-2010 10:14 AM

We use a lot of cherry, solid and veneer. We also stain most of it, seems most of the customers want that “Store Cherry” color darker and slightly more red. We seal with thinned lacquer and stain with M L Campbell Products and topcoat with satin lacquer. The stain is a wipe or brush on depending on profiles etc. then wipe off and allow to dry before top coating.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3997 days

#8 posted 07-09-2010 12:45 PM

Dakremer, cherry is prone to blotching if you try to stain it so it would be best to use a preconditioner, if this is the route you are going to go. But, I agree with the majority of commenters that cherry is a gorgeous wood that Mother Nature will color in her own way over time. My general receipe for cherry is to sand to 180, add a coat of boiled linseed oil to tone it, and topcoat with wipe on poly.

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

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3250 days

#9 posted 07-09-2010 01:11 PM

The only “problem” with cherry IMO is the burn marks when you cut if on the TS. It’s not a real problem because a pass through the jointer or some sanding takes care of it.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3098 days

#10 posted 07-09-2010 01:15 PM

I’m with Scott. I’ve done several pieces in cherry and found I like the oil finish the best.

-- Life is good.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 4133 days

#11 posted 07-09-2010 02:10 PM

Also cherry will tan when left exposed. I would recommend keeping it covered after you work on it and keep it out of the sunlight. I left two pieces lying across each other and the next time I worked on the project you could clearly see a line on the covered piece.

And I second all the advice about a clear finish or an oil…I for one am not a big fan of stain..I pick wood for its grain and color, and I use mostly clear finishes like lacquer…something that enhances the wood.


View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3226 days

#12 posted 07-10-2010 01:33 AM

#1, there is no reason to stain cherry. It ages naturally to a beautiul color, but some people (myself included)
like to accelerate that. The way to do it is to slather it with boiled linseed oil, keep it wet for about 20 minutes, reapply oil as needed to dry spots, then wipe it dry. Make sure none bleeds out-wipe off if it does, let dry for 2-3 days, then finish as you wish. If you want to avoid runs, want a more natural look, and avoid steps, mix equal parts boiled linseed oil, polyurethane varnish, and mineral spirits. Apply with a clean rag, let it sit for a few minutes, wipe off, let dry overnight and repeat until you get what you want. You can apply subsequent coats with 320 or 400 wet-or-dry sandpaper in a circular motion to get an even smoother surface. After dry, use 0000 steel wool and wax, then buff.

One thing about cherry, one man’s beautiful figure is another man’s blotch. The higher grit you use to sand before applying a finish, the less blotch/figure you’ll have. The most important thing to accelerate ageing in cherry is to give it a suntan either before or after finishing-doesn’t seem to matter which. Just put it in direct sunlight for a few hours, turn it ocassionally for even exposure, and spend the rest of your life admiring your work. Cherry is the PREMIERE American wood. Enjoy.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View GregP's profile


154 posts in 3053 days

#13 posted 07-11-2010 01:27 AM

In my opinion stain makes cherry look muddy, I prefer aniline dye just to add a little depth but it’s not necessary just shellac looks great on cherry.

-- Greg P, Washington State,

View SouthpawCA's profile


272 posts in 3409 days

#14 posted 07-11-2010 03:35 AM

I just finished building a cherry column for a customer. She wanted it to match her cherry cabinets in the adjacent room. I used blonde shellac – that’s it! If it didn’t match I would have used orange and then garnet shellac. Finally if it didn’t match I would have used BLO and then started over with the shellac regimen. Lucky for me, the blonde worked.

Cherry will change color over time.

-- Don

View buckeyedudes's profile


155 posts in 3303 days

#15 posted 07-11-2010 03:46 AM

I’m putting wide cherry baseboards and casing trim throughout my house. Taking it from my own trees, milling the lumber, etc. etc. I know cherry! Love it.

Like many other’s opinions, keep it all natural. I take it down to 320 then two coats of satin poly.
Buff between coats with 00 steel wool. The cherry is absolutely georgous and will darken over time.

On projects I’ve also hit cherry with BLO, Danish Oil Finish, water based Poly, and tung oil – all with great success.

I’ve never understood why people put that dark cherry stain on cherry wood – use poplar man, its much cheaper and is just as hard. Don’t ruin good cherry wood by putting dark stain over it.

-- Before you louse it up, THIMK!

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