Finishing Help. As usual.

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Forum topic by Charlie_Wintercoats posted 2076 days ago 1288 views 2 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Charlie_Wintercoats's profile


36 posts in 2080 days

2076 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: cherry finishing help

There are so many variables in finishing that I didnt want to muck it up by missijng a detail.

I want to finish a cherry vanity cabinet. (Solid cherry face frame and door frames and cherry ply )

The finish I want is on a bed that a member made. Here it is.

Is this Oil varnish finish appropriate for a vanity? (wet enviornment)

Do I need to do a seal coat first?

Any other tips like brand or technique?

I love this light clean look. I was going to use a reddish gell stain and am so glad I didnt this is how i want it to look. Thanks so much in advance

9 replies so far

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

494 posts in 2409 days

#1 posted 2076 days ago

Cherry blotches so baddly I ALWAYS seal first with 1 lb cut DEWAXED shellac. Light sanding & you can use most any stain (or not) . I’d topcoat a vanity with wipe on poly. Test some scrap to get the color you want. Remember—-cherry WILL darken with age. no matter where you have it.


View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8768 posts in 2726 days

#2 posted 2076 days ago

My experience is a little different than Tim’s.

In applying a finish only, be it lacquer or oil base, I have not experienced any blotching. In applying stain, yes, you will run that risk.

I typically do not stain cherry unless I am matching something that already exists and it is necessary. As a remodeling contractor I run into these types of constraints for projects.

Cherry does take on quite a bit of color on it’s own and it is so beautiful.

The oil base polyurethanes are quite durable and the wipe-on is easily applied with little risk of messing it up. Because it goes on thin you will need several coats. That is not as big of a deal as you may think because it dries fairly quickly, a wipe-on coat is much thinner than a brushed coat.

I use Zinsser Sealcoat as my dewaxed shellac product. I like opening a can and going to work, I don’t use the shellac flakes. The key is DEWAXED just as Tim put it.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Charlie_Wintercoats's profile


36 posts in 2080 days

#3 posted 2076 days ago

Thats what im going for the natural darkening. Ive got bulls eye sealcoat to help prevent blotching. I was going to use that to brevent blotching before the gel stain but if im doing this oil varnish finish do you still seal or is th oil supposed to soak in?

View Charlie_Wintercoats's profile


36 posts in 2080 days

#4 posted 2076 days ago

Thanks todd for answering the sealer question. We must have been typing at the same time.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2449 days

#5 posted 2076 days ago


If you want the aged brown with freshly milled cherry one option is to suntan it. Here is a blog posted by Al Navas. I use this process routinely when I have time (about 2 weeks) to let it age naturally. Normally I will use penetrating oil such as boiled linseed oil or danish oil as a base coat, seal it with Zinsser SealCoat and I simply use either a wipe on poly or dewaxed shellac as a top coat.

But, I have never applied any stain to cherry. The problem, in my opinion, with trying to stain it to either match an existing piece or to create an aged look is that over time the new cherry will continue to darken whereas the stain will not so that eventually there will be a discernible difference in color between naturally aged wood versus the stained wood.

With cherry if you are patient it will produce a beautiful color all on its own.

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

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8768 posts in 2726 days

#6 posted 2076 days ago

I can back the suntan method, you can add 6 months to a year of color if you expose it to hard sun for a few days. I have done this myself. I have had to deal with speeding the aging process in order to make it match existing work so I am familiar with this.

You definitely have the right product to seal the wood if you need, that being for this project or any other.

If you use something like Watco Danish Oil, be aware that it has a long dry time to insure that anything else can adhere to it. Danish oil does help bring out some incredible color on wood very quickly.

If you are working in a basement or garage shop and it is cool, be aware that the dry times on the can are calibrated on something like 70 degrees and 50% humidity.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 2623 days

#7 posted 2075 days ago

Charlie – the Tried and True varnish oil I used on the bed frame could be used on your vanity project. I would apply at least 4-5 coats if you want a finish that is well protected. You could go the poly route too for surefire protection, you may have to “finish the finish” a bit to get the look you want. I’d bet you could get a nice look out of poly, but I like the oil varnish a lot…

I did not use a shellac, though I did “seal” the wood with a 50/50 cut of spirits and the varnish oil if I remember correctly. Then it was another few coats of the straight varnish oil, sanding with successively higher grits iin between coats for the oil to adhere to each previous coat. After the final coat dried (this stuff takes a looooong time to thoroughly dry) I applied paste wax with 0000 steel and buffed by hand to what you see in the photos. I have to say, that this finish is holding up super and I am very pleased.

With re: to the heating of the varnish…I just heated up the can in a pot of water until the varnish warmed to probably about 120 degrees or so.

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

View Charlie_Wintercoats's profile


36 posts in 2080 days

#8 posted 2075 days ago

Wow thanks for the detailed writ up!. How long is loooong? I have to have the piece shipped next tuesday. I could just use poly it I dont have enough time.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8768 posts in 2726 days

#9 posted 2070 days ago

I heat my finishes like oil in a pot of water that was brought to boiling and then removed from the stove. Or I place it in the sink with hot water and change the water a couple of times to get it warm. I never place the finish on or near the stove or heat source.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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