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Anybody 'popped a CHERRY' lately?

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Forum topic by wah527 posted 04-09-2009 12:09 AM 1148 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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wah527

4 posts in 2022 days


04-09-2009 12:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question cherry finishing refurbishing rustic arts and crafts refinishing stripping

I am refinishing a cherry harvest table that has been in my family for over 80 years, and I want to make sure I do it ‘right.’ Before starting this (my first) refinishing project, I researched the process online (I even asked a few of my refurb-experienced friends for pointers)… Well, so far I’ve finished 3 rounds of Formby’s Refinisher / scraping / light sanding which appears to have removed all of the poly and original stain. However, now that I see the natural color of the cherry wood, I have some concern that the dark walnut stain I will be applying (to match our new dining chairs) will not be rich enough to hide the redness. I have discovered two potential solutions: 1) Peroxide (to remove natural wood pigmentation), 2) Industrial-grade Bleach (to remove penetrating stain residue). No matter how hard I squint at the wood, I can’t tell if this is a ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’ issue. And, who knows, maybe the stain will cover it right up. Any suggestions?


13 replies so far

View johnpoolesc's profile

johnpoolesc

246 posts in 2047 days


#1 posted 04-09-2009 01:36 AM

a good condition harvest table that age, with the original finish can retail for 10 grand.. hoped you checked with local antique market.. btw, poly could not have been used 80 years ago.. 30 plus of minus..

have you tried vinigar applied with steel wool? if not try it on a hidden area.. just wet the wool in vinigar and scrub the wood.. wait 30 minutes or so.. almost black, prior or stain.. i would use an oil base for the next coat.. either poly of stain.. then use water base for additional coats, layering in that fashion prevents the layers from mixing

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

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johnpoolesc

246 posts in 2047 days


#2 posted 04-09-2009 01:42 AM

another custom staining method that is common.. use oilbase poly and artist style oil paint for tint.. the paint comes in tubes like toothpaste, i have seen that work great when you have to match an older finish.. i used iit after replacing a leg on a 200 year old oak desk.. it was the only way to get a perfect match, you could not pick out the new wood.. takes longer but will give you a perfect match to any finish

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile

jeffthewoodwacker

603 posts in 2491 days


#3 posted 04-09-2009 02:18 AM

Get some Klean Strip Wood Bleach – that will lighten your piece up. Regardless of what you do the nature of cherry is that it will darken as it ages.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2212 days


#4 posted 04-09-2009 02:42 AM

Tell me the table was in terrible shape, please. I wouldn’t mess with an antique, and surely wouldn’t stain cherry to match some chairs. I would rather get chairs to match the table.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View wah527's profile

wah527

4 posts in 2022 days


#5 posted 04-09-2009 08:11 AM

Yikes! I had no idea I was messing around with so much intrinsic value. However, decades of meals and spills had really taken a toll on the finish – it was definitely time to revitalize this beauty. Although the market value would be interesting to know, I would never be able to part with this heirloom. My great-grandfather was a carpenter (who made dozens of neat little sandstone & hardwood churches all over the Cumberland area in Tennessee) – he built this piece in 1920 to make room for my then newborn grandfather at the dinner table. By the way, that dude was passionate about cherry. He left a whole ‘inventory’ of it in his wood racks in the old shop.

Well, it looks like John and Julian are not so keen on the idea of messing with this piece’s natural beauty. For that matter, I’m totally game with NOT matching the table to the chairs. I just want to make sure I do something ‘compatible’ that captures the neat little black-ish undertones… nicks and dings and scratches and… character. That being said, John, would you say the methods you described are a little more ‘extreme’ and focused solely on the end goal being a match with the chairs? Would any of you guys recommend another approach to finishing this? Or, if I do it right, will the dark walnut stain be an interesting approach to finishing cherry. (FYI, almost all of the wood in our place is darker.)

Jeff, how ‘aggressive’ is Klean Strip Wood Bleach? Would there be any risk of this process removing the black from the scratches and grooves. And, by the way, you’re right about it darkening with age – this thing is almost black underneath!

Finally, if that wasn’t poly, do you have any idea what he might have used to seal and protect this kind of table 80 years ago?

View Waldschrat's profile

Waldschrat

505 posts in 2122 days


#6 posted 04-09-2009 09:32 AM

Wah527,

I Just about had a heart attack when I read that you want to put some sort of stain on a CHERRY table! Woah, I am still breathing hard! I would not do any thing of the sort when it comes to staining! Cherry wood is beautiful!

I am not trying to tell you what to do, just my opintion, but unless those chairs you have belong to the table or have some sort of sentimental value, I would rather replace the chairs! Or even better build new ones to match! (just scrolling up I see that I am repeating Julian) But he is right, Its like buying a new $5,000 3 piece suit to match some old shoes that you have… you have to decide. The table is a family institution/tradition… I would vote for take off all that old finish and let the wood out, Cherry is Really, Really pretty wood just on its own!

Answer to question: If you want to restore a table to an original finish that was used 80 years ago, then you are limited to oil, wax, (or a hardwax-oil mix which are good too) or finaly Schellack. It was not until after the second world war that polyuerathane (most develped during and for war effort reasons) and those sort of finishes were really in use. There might have been some limited use in special cases, but generaly its Schellack, oil or wax.

I have recently discovered that Schellack is a dream to spray on with a pistol! But one has to admit that for a kitchen table with these finishes requires more maintence (perhaps more vulnrable), than poly varnisches. Thats the disadvantage of them.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View Julian's profile

Julian

880 posts in 2212 days


#7 posted 04-09-2009 02:58 PM

If you want to refinish the top, I would suggest using shellac first, then spray a couple coats of laquer. This will outlast poly and be much more durable. I’m not a fan of poly, especially for a surface that will take a beating.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 2399 days


#8 posted 04-09-2009 04:55 PM

Please listen to Julian. I’m glad to hear you reconsidering staining a beautiful cherry table. Cherry is supposed to look red. If you have a cat, but wish you had a poodle, please don’t shave your cat to look like a french poodle.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." - http://www.willmego.com/

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

712 posts in 2305 days


#9 posted 04-09-2009 06:15 PM

Personally, if I had a table made by an ancestor and never intended to part with it, I would give it a good non-invasive cleaning and just sit back and admire it. If you intend to refinish it then by all means sell it to someone who will appreciate it’s unaltered character, and build yourself a walnut copy with the proceeds. Seems you have a link to the woodworking talents you inherited.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View wah527's profile

wah527

4 posts in 2022 days


#10 posted 04-09-2009 07:19 PM

Okay, so it appears the consensus is to keep the cherry… cherry. Unfortunately, I had already removed the original finish before even sending this post, so please don’t lament. That tragedy aside, there is still hope for a long future of natural beauty – given I make the right finish decision. So, I think we’ve all decided that NO STAIN is the way to begin. But, how about the finish / protection? Here are the recommendations so far:
• Oil-based poly
• Hardwax-oil mix
• Shellac
• Shellac / Laquer

(Keep in mind, this is a rustic piece.)

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1381 posts in 2814 days


#11 posted 04-09-2009 08:14 PM

I’m in agreement with Don.
In keeping with this holy season I’d “passover” the refinishing and just clean the chametz out of it.

-- 温故知新

View Waldschrat's profile

Waldschrat

505 posts in 2122 days


#12 posted 04-09-2009 08:35 PM

I am all for Hardwax oil…. You can buff it to a nice soft scheen and its pretty resistant most stuff… and it looks great. (my opinion)

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View gagewestern's profile

gagewestern

301 posts in 2037 days


#13 posted 04-10-2009 01:04 AM

well their are a lot of opines here. i probly would not changed the finish i would have made chairs to match but that said its yours and you should be able to do what you want with to many people friking out. if you seal it with shellac then stain you should be able to get the color you want then i love shellac as a finish mainly because the speed factor in finishing not that i dont llike finishing but i like building more brian gagewestern

-- gagewestern

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