Suggestions on how to finish a cherry crib?

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Forum topic by diito posted 07-30-2014 07:43 AM 1517 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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30 posts in 1617 days

07-30-2014 07:43 AM

I just finished a 3-in1 crib/bed build for my first:

Now comes the scary part, I need a finish. The whole thing is built from solid cherry, which I’ve never built anything of this scale out of before. I’m concerned about the blotching, the color variations from board to board becoming more obvious as the wood oxidizes with age, and in general getting it all right.

What are your bulletproof methods for getting a great looking finish on cherry?

Sapwood is not a concern, I cut that all off. I just bought a a nice Apollo ECO line 5 stage HLVP setup so I am equipped to spray… but I’ve not done it yet so I’m a rookie there. I don’t want to use lye or another chemical treatments to speed up the aging process. I’d be concerned about the safety for both the baby and me. I prefer the natural aged look of cherry though. The most common answer for getting that I see is BLO and sunlight. Right now I’m debating, open to other suggestions as well:

  • BLO thinned with mineral spirits wiped on, sunlight, then spraying lacquer. Concerns there are blotching, even though there isn’t much color in BLO, and color variation. The test piece I did (minus the lacquer) the results of BLO+sun wasn’t all that great either. It was definitely darker, but a lot more yellow than I’d like. Maybe I’m not leaving out in the sun long enough. I’m also just not that into BLO.
  • Amber Shellac, sunlight, then spray lacquer. This seems foolproof, just don’t know how it will look?
  • Just sunlight and lacquer. Might be a little dull though.
  • The Charles Neil recipe of blotch control, general finishes water based dye mix, then (deft) lacquer. This certainly gets me a lot closer to the aged cherry and the uniform color I want. I just don’t know.

9 replies so far

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 1655 days

#1 posted 07-30-2014 07:55 AM

Have you considered beeswax? Doesn’t get more natural than that.

My first choice is always to go for an oil+beeswax mix. Shellac is also a great option as it is safe to consume. :) I have my first one on the way as well, and I am considering going with straight beeswax, because I would assume that an oil+wax mix has some chemicals in it anyway, because my kitchen counter top is holding up a lot better than I would have expected.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2518 days

#2 posted 07-30-2014 02:06 PM

Garnet shellac would be my choice. Under my projects look at the corner china cabinet I built out of solid cherry…it’s finished with only garnet shellac. True enough, it’s not the most durable of finishes; but it’s so easy to repair that doesn’t matter….and the look it gives cherry is fantastic (IMHO).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View CharlesA's profile


3329 posts in 1822 days

#3 posted 07-30-2014 02:22 PM

I think Cherry looks great with straight Arm-R-Seal—it will naturally darken over the next few days/months/year and will be gorgeous. Color variations will even out. It will protect the finish (a crib will get some abuse). I know nothing about spraying, though.

From everything I’ve read, including Charles Neil, straight BLO is more of a pain and not as useful as the many wiping/spraying varnish formulations such as Arm-R-Seal.

-- "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 Pezking7p's profile


3217 posts in 1676 days

#4 posted 07-30-2014 02:30 PM

I finished a cherry table with a few coats of Seal-a-Cell wiped on, then Watco wipe on satin poly. Worked fantastic, no blotching. I kept the coats very thin and wiped off all excess after only a minute or two, which I think helped with the blotching. This sits in my living room and after a few months, it looks very aged.

I wouldn’t bother with sun while you’re finishing, just put the finish on that you want and let the sun do it’s job. A year isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.

-- -Dan

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2386 days

#5 posted 07-30-2014 03:10 PM

CAB acrylic or nitrocellulose solvent lacquer in a Medium Rubbed Effect gloss.

-- 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 Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 1874 days

#6 posted 07-30-2014 10:45 PM

Shellac is totally nontoxic, in fact it’s edible, once the denatured alcohol has evaporated. Admittedly, shellac is not as durable as a polyurethane, for example, though it’s much easier to repair. Clint’s got a good idea concerning the use of lacquer. It’s more durable than shellac, and it’s almost as easy to repair if it gets damaged. For what it’s worth, I suggest that you forgo the use of oil. It’s not really necessary. Use a dye, possibly in conjunction with Charles Neil’s blotch control if you want to “pop the grain.”

View pintodeluxe's profile


5704 posts in 2838 days

#7 posted 07-30-2014 11:27 PM

Here is some info on finishing cherry blotch-free.
For this project I would select shellac for its’ non-toxic properties. A crib will be chewed on, no matter how pretty it is. Has a child ever died from ingesting a few flakes of lacquer? No, but why test the theory.

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

View CharlesA's profile


3329 posts in 1822 days

#8 posted 07-30-2014 11:49 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it was my understanding that all the commonly used woodworking finishes are basically inert when cured, so there is not really a safety issue at stake in which one one chooses.

-- "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 1yeldud1's profile


301 posts in 3066 days

#9 posted 07-31-2014 01:25 AM

I applied Danish oil to the ones that I built – I did let it “air out” good before any child was placed in the 8 cribs that I have built this year

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