Your favorite finishes for cherry

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Forum topic by jwicks posted 05-13-2009 06:26 PM 8312 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jwicks's profile


54 posts in 3025 days

05-13-2009 06:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry finish

I am just finishing up the woodworking on a cherry kitchen table and need to start thinking about what finish to put on it. I want to start trying some out on sample boards and was wondering what some of your favorite finishes for cherry are?

BTW, from testing with mineral spirits there are definitely areas that are going to blotch so I’m thinking I’ll do at least one coat of 1# dewaxed shellac to minimize that prior to adding anything else.


-- Jon

13 replies so far

View pyromedic602's profile


164 posts in 3165 days

#1 posted 05-13-2009 06:39 PM

I like to let mine age naturale, I put either shellac or poly on it but no stain for me, maybe some oil.

-- Pyromedic602, free wood is always good wood

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

786 posts in 3250 days

#2 posted 05-13-2009 06:44 PM

I’ve used shellac and wiping poly, but if you want a consistent “cherry” color you may want to try a cherry gel stain. Here’s some more info:

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3239 days

#3 posted 05-13-2009 07:14 PM

My favorite finishing routine for cherry is BLO, to add a darker tone to the wood, seal coat of shellac and topcoat with wipe on poly or shellac. Building a finish with poly or shellac will keep the color consistent with a mineral spirits wipe.

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

View JimmyNate's profile


124 posts in 2768 days

#4 posted 05-13-2009 07:15 PM

Keep in mind cherry will darken over years with uv exposure. I think the best cherry I’ve seen was Boiled Linseed Oil and Beeswax. For a table you might want a clear poly over the oil instead to help water resistance.

-- "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit." ---Aristotle

View a1Jim's profile


115167 posts in 2994 days

#5 posted 05-13-2009 07:21 PM

sun light and Orange Shellac. The sun will darken cherry you just have to make sure you keep turning it so it darkens equally on all sides, also don’t leave any thing setting on your finished project or you will have a spot that does not darken . kinda like a sun tan line when sun bathing.

-- Custom furniture

View rickf16's profile


386 posts in 2998 days

#6 posted 05-13-2009 08:20 PM

I’ve used antique oil finish in the past, however, my favorite is my own mix: General Finishes, warm cherry stain (oil ), georgian cherry gel and a touch of java gel stain. The gel stain seems to mitigate any bloching. Depending on the look I want, i e, more brown or more reddish color, determines what the mix is. I then seal with shellac, sand to 220 then at least two coats of poly with a sanding of 400 between each coat. Just my two cents.

-- Rick

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

936 posts in 2811 days

#7 posted 05-13-2009 08:20 PM

I finished a small Cherry table recently with tung oil and that’s right, the wood blotch in some areas…
I’m French polishing the tote and knob (cherry) of one of my planes, and it’s wonderful the color cherry gets with blonde shellac (Hock Shellac). BTW, stains are out!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View jwicks's profile


54 posts in 3025 days

#8 posted 05-13-2009 09:01 PM

Thanks everyone. I’m going to try out some of the ideas on some scrap. I’d rather not add color through stains or dyes and let the color darken naturally.

Scott – I’m liking the BLO, shellac, poly routine, but will the BLO blotch? Any value to doing shellac, BLO, poly , in that order, to reduce the blotching? I assume the oil would also not penetrate as much. I think I’ll try both on scrap, just wondering about your experience on this.

-- Jon

View JimmyNate's profile


124 posts in 2768 days

#9 posted 05-13-2009 09:13 PM

As I understand it, the oil should be applied first so that it can penetrate the wood. The shellac and poly sit on the surface of the wood. Also, applying 3-4 coats of oil and hand rubbing them off should help with the blotching.

-- "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit." ---Aristotle

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 3545 days

#10 posted 05-13-2009 09:15 PM

Hand-rubbed polymerized tung oil can produce a stunning finish on cherry if you want an artisan style finish.

Start with a light coat or two of Polymerized Tung Oil diluted 1:1 with mineral spirits. This will soak in, seal the wood and prevent blotching. Be sure to wipe away any excess before it dries.

When dry, start hand rubbing coats of Polymerized Tung Oil, up to five to seven coats.

I use this type of finish on rustic cherry coffee tables made with 6/4 slabs of wood. The results are stunning.
It also is beautiful on walnut.

Note: MinWax and Formby’s DO NOT sell real tung oil.
You can get real tung oil and Polymerized Tung Oil from several vendors, including Lee Valley.

Good luck.

-- 温故知新

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3091 days

#11 posted 05-14-2009 12:05 AM

BLO sounds like a bad idea on cherry. It darkens with age as does cherry, you’ll get a dark bleh when combined.

Just set it out in the sun for a while to get it to age, the aging will blend the blotching.

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3183 days

#12 posted 05-14-2009 01:14 AM

Jon, check out this site and see if you get any ideas.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3239 days

#13 posted 05-14-2009 03:07 PM

Jon, putting a seal coat of shellac on would be fine. But I would not put on BLO simply because it would be a waste of time. Topping the shellac with poly would then be my choice since this will get exposed to water. Starting with BLO will darken the cherry a shade whereas starting with the shellac will not tone the wood. So it largely depends on the look you are wanting to achieve. Trying a finishing routine on test pieces is the way to go. I have found that it helps in deciding the finishing routine if you do this in a progressive fashion on different areas of a test piece.

But I have not experienced blotching problems with cherry with either route. The only time I have had blotch problems has been when applying stains on woods such as pine. Cherry will blotch if stained as well but I do not stain cherry. I do not believe that any improvement in the color of cherry is necessary since Mother Nature does such a wonderful job of coloring it.

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

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