Finishing cherry

I am building a small project out of cherry that will be in a kitchen and hence around water. Bob Flexner's book recommends gel stain since cherry does not stain evenly due to swirly grain. The gel stain is to give it even color. The he recommends finishing with an oil/varnish blend (e.g., tung oil varnish). I want to apply polyurethane to protect from water. Have any of you used gel stain on cherry and then applied poly? Are there any gotchas I need to worry about?
TIA.
Dick Snyder
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wrote:

The biggest "gotcha" will probably be the impending rain of "don't ever stain cherry" postings that typically ensue when this question pops up. I personally like an oil/varnish on unstained cherry -- the wood is what it is and maintains it's native character. I've seen some stain jobs that are ok and others that are abysmal (might as well have used purple paint). If your goal is to homogenize sapwood with heart wood then do lots of practice pieces -- but also understand that the heartwood will age under the stain and you will have color shifts with age. If you are staining just so you have a certain color out of the shop, then what you have in a year will be different.
hex -30-
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hex wrote:

You can get an even stain colour if you spray finish the cherry with a stain tint in the finish , it does tend to mask some of the cherries natural characteristics though--
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NO STAIN, please. Just finish with a nice oil/wax or danish oil finish. Within a year it will darken naturally to a better color than any stain could give.
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Dick Snyder wrote:

I also like the idea of polyurethane to protect from water, etc., and did a set of cabinets just that way. Afterwards, I had occasion to wipe some BLO on a piece of Cherry, and wow! Great color and grain pop!
On the next project I am going to look into oil, possibly BLO, letting it sit to cure (how long?) and then shoot the poly.
I am sure others on this group have more knowledge of this than I.
Harvey
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On Tue, 04 Nov 2008 10:14:04 +0000, Dick Snyder wrote:

I have not found that gel stain is much better than liquid. They both blotch on woods like cherry. The gel may blotch a little less, but IMNSHO, the main use of gel stain is for vertical surfaces.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Even the mention of staining cherry in this group will get you tarred and feathered (figuatively, of course).
My favorite finish for cherry is a swipe with linseed or tung oil to bring out the grain, followed by however many coats of dewaxed shellac I feel like.
I know you mentioned water, but I've tried to produce water marks on a dewaxed shellac finish and have not been able to. I'd be much more worried if you'd mentioned alcohol :-).
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Dick Snyder wrote:

Here is my finishing method for cherry (and pretty much everything else):
- ROS sand at 220, then 330 grits.
- Wipe piece down with damp cloth to pop the grain. Let it dry and ROS sand again at 330 grit.
- Hand wet sand at 400 then 600 grits.
- Stain as desired - don't listen to people who hyperventilate about staining cherry. It's *YOUR* piece, do what you want with it. Personally, I've done it both ways with good results.
- Keep wet sanding up to the level of smoothness you want. Restaining as/if needed - watch the edges and corners.
- For surfaces that will be in contact with water, I seal the piece with water-based poly. I *wipe* the poly on (again, watching edges and corners), let it dry and wet sand it in steps of 600, 1000, and finally 2000 grit.
- For non-wet environments, I like a shellac/turps wax finish. The shellac imparts a beautiful glow to the piece and is protected by a home grown wax made of beeswax and turpentine.
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Thanks to the group for your replies. The idea of using an oil appeals to me. I have used Seal-A-Cell from General Finishes followed by Arm-R-Seal (an oil and urethane topcoat) also from General Finishes on a mahogany piece I did. The mahogany piece was not in an environment where it might get wet. If this combo could work in a kitchen environment, then I would get the natural cherry wood IF the oil and urethane topcoat would protect the piece from getting messed up by water. Does anyone have any experience with these products in the kind of environment I am talking about?
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I'm using the General Finishes on a number of pieces now. It's just a wipe on polyurethane basically, so it will give you a poly protection, but only if you put enough coats on. Since it's a wipe on, your finish coats are much thinner than a brushed or sprayed on finish. More coats of the General will give you more build up and more protection.

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Thanks Gary. Have you had experience with water making contact with the poly finish?

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Not really much experience. If it was just rings from glasses of water and things like that, I wouldn't worry. For heavy exposure I'd go for a bigger buildup for the protection you want. Might be easier/quicker to brush or spray on a finish than to have to wipe on a lot of coats. But, it can be done with the General product - it's just a thinned out poly to make application easy, so it will do it after enough coats. Another way to get there is to use a pore filler like Z-Poxy (I've used it under a guitar finish) that will really seal and protect the wood before you put any kind of finish on. Then a couple coats of General and you're probably there.
Gary in KC

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