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PROBLEM FINISHING CHERRY

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Forum topic by fuzzface posted 12-30-2013 11:31 PM 1342 views 3 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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fuzzface

62 posts in 1336 days


12-30-2013 11:31 PM

Need some help from my fellow LJ’rs. Finishing a cherry table top. My first cherry project. I’ve read for years of the inherent problems finishing cherry. So based on advice from a magazine article, I first applied Minwax Pre-Stain to my top. Sanded after it dried. The next day, used Minwax Cherry Gel Stain. Per instructions, applied with a cloth, and wiped the excess after a few minutes. The next day it looked fabulous. So I applied another coat, and again wiped the excess. Looking at it today, I’m disappointed. Hope you can see in the picture. Looks very uneven, like too much stain was left in some places. My thought was to sand it lightly, and add another coat of stain, but thought I’d throw it out to the community to see if someone has a better idea.
By the way, the center of the table top is a piece of mdf fastened from underneath. I’ll be adding tiles after I resolve the finishing problem.
Your advice is much appreciated.

-- I'm a LumberJock and I'm OK.............. I sleep all night and I work all day !!


18 replies so far

View MJCD's profile

MJCD

483 posts in 1837 days


#1 posted 12-31-2013 12:01 AM

Welcome to Cherry…

The downside is probably not enough sealer – I apply two coats, minimum, and build this through to a final coat of Finish. The Stain, itself, should never touch the wood. You may be past the point of equalizing the finish. Having said this, who says the finish needs to be uniform across the work?

I hope that more knowledgeable forum members can provide constructive advice.
MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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CharlesA

3024 posts in 1263 days


#2 posted 12-31-2013 12:03 AM

I suggested the following to Yooper and this is how it turned out. It was a tip I got from Charles Neil: on clean wood apply two coats of General Finishes Get Satin topcoat. then use General Finishes Candlelite Gel Stain. Then top with either Gel Topcoat or Arm-R-Seal.

I’ve also just used Arm-R-Seal or Gel Topcoat plain and the unevenness usually recedes as it gets darker over time. See this.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1731 posts in 1435 days


#3 posted 12-31-2013 12:07 AM

I’ve used as per another LJ here, 3:2 denatured alcohol to zinnsers seal coat shellac on my last project which had a lot of cherry, didn’t get a single blotch.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View sgmdwk's profile

sgmdwk

283 posts in 1338 days


#4 posted 12-31-2013 12:47 AM

I don’t have a can in front of me, but, as I remember it, the Minwax Prestain instructions say to apply stain within 6 hours of using the prestain. At least that is what I have done for the last 20 years.

-- Dave K.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 1827 days


#5 posted 12-31-2013 03:00 AM

Serves you right. Staining cherry is sacrilegious.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View MJCD's profile

MJCD

483 posts in 1837 days


#6 posted 12-31-2013 03:10 AM

For Cherry, a simple, true Tung Oil would be sufficient – Clint has the excellent point; though, there are times (my overly-expensive speakers for example) where the manufacturer wants to hedge their bets on the amount of blotching that will occur, and they seal every nook & cranny, pre-finish; and, there are other good reasons, I guess.

Having said this, I still don’t see anyone offering help on a road-forward – I don’t know one.
MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1432 posts in 2228 days


#7 posted 12-31-2013 05:16 PM

In the words of Clint – - – EXACTLY !

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

View distrbd's profile

distrbd

2227 posts in 1912 days


#8 posted 12-31-2013 06:18 PM

This magic mix will work great on cherry:
It’s called Kondra’s secret mix:

25% Spar Varnish
25% Tung Oil
50% Mineral spirit
I capful of Japan drier per cup of mix(or one teaspoon)
You can lightly sand after the second layer dries .I don’t have a picture to show but I’ll be using it soon on cherry table legs.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1775 days


#9 posted 12-31-2013 07:07 PM

First of all Minwax is the harbor fright of finishes.

The reason the Minwax stain conditioner doesn’t work well is it mostly high priced mineral spirits. Next time you want to stain cherry get some Charles Neil conditioner.

Minwax stain conditioner MSDS

http://www.menards.com/msds/103339_001.pdf

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View fuzzface's profile

fuzzface

62 posts in 1336 days


#10 posted 12-31-2013 07:53 PM

Thanks to all your replies. So far I’ve found what I shouldn’t have done, and with appreciation I’ll file that away for the future. As far as the current problem, can I sand this out and rescue it, or trash it and start over ???

-- I'm a LumberJock and I'm OK.............. I sleep all night and I work all day !!

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3024 posts in 1263 days


#11 posted 12-31-2013 07:57 PM

I would sand it out and start again. Cherry does usually even out over time, though.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View distrbd's profile

distrbd

2227 posts in 1912 days


#12 posted 12-31-2013 08:22 PM

If you sand it out and looks even,wouldn’t you be better off not to put any more stain on it?

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

350 posts in 1572 days


#13 posted 01-01-2014 02:10 AM

I think most of us here have committed worse woodworking sins than gel stain on cherry (though that is a cardinal sin). I have had my own run in with nice cherry and gel stain on an early project.

The best advise I can give you is to save a big cut-off and use it to test different finishes. Use masking tape to break it into even squares. Label them and test to your heart’s content. When you find the right finish, only then do you use it on the project.

People are giving you grief about gel stain because although gel stain is a great way to make bad wood look average, it’s equally effective in making exceptional wood look average. You’ve got some nice cherry and did a lovely job with the miter; no sense hiding it under gel stain.

I’d sand it down and start over. Toss the minwax and try the zinser wax free shellac mentioned above (they sell it at Home Despot). It seals cherry much more effectively.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

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fuzzface

62 posts in 1336 days


#14 posted 01-02-2014 12:41 AM

As a follow up for anyone who might run into the same problem, here is my solution. After my first coat of gel stain, I thought the top looked great. After the second coat, not so great. My mistake was in applying too thick a second coat, and letting it set too long before wiping. So I sanded down with an orbital sander, reapplied one coat, wiped quickly. After drying, applied second coat, wiped quickly. I’m very happy now with the finish. I realize some have negative feelings about gel stain on cherry, but the idea came from an article in Woodsmith Magazine. Go figure. Anyway, if you learn something, it’s not really a mistake, is it?? Thanks again for your help and advice.

-- I'm a LumberJock and I'm OK.............. I sleep all night and I work all day !!

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4859 posts in 2279 days


#15 posted 01-02-2014 02:37 AM

Nice save. I concur with the 3:2 ratio of denatured alcohol to Zinssner seal coat as a pre-stain conditioner. I have heard many say before that they weren’t entirely happy with the Minwax pre-stain conditioner.

Sample boards can give an idea of what the finished product will look like.

Cheers!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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