A friend has asked me to build him a desk for his daughtor's room that will
exactly match a chest of drawers. The woodworking is real simple, but he
needs to know that the wood will be the same color.
The chest is fairly dark cherry. He says it is 5 years old and the color
has been stable for that time.
I did a google search on staining cherry and the most relavent thread is
dated today! People have said that cherry darkens all by itself, and should
not be stained (or dyed).
Well, he is going to be pissed if it is a significantly different color.
How long does it take for cherry to make this magical transformation? How
reliable is it? Does cherry plywood (the sides have no exposed edges, so
they might as well be plywood) also darken the same way? Is it plain old
light that darkens it, or UV from sunlight?
If it was for myself I would just build it and enjoy the contrast if it
didn't darken right, but he will not see it that way.
I'd say that if he's going to be pissed because cherry has the properties
that it has, that maybe he should find someone else to do it. That's what
I'd tell him if it was me. Other than that, maybe it could be toned the
right color with a top coat that contains a UV-inhibitor.
With a Lye treatment it takes about 10 seconds. Yea, I know that's
what I thought. Disolve the lye in water and paint on. I read
elsewhere it is reacting with the tanin (sp?) in the wood in the same
way years of UV would. Only here it happens before your eyes. The
grain will raise slightly which you simply sand back to smooth. I did
not cut a peice but the treatment seems to go quite deep. I was kind
of leary about doing this with the peice of furniture I just finished
so I tried it on a couple of scraps. The amount of lye determines the
darkeness (I used about 1 tsp to 2 cups of water and it matches a 2
year old footstool we have perfectly) so experiment. It will look
blotchy until it has had a day or so to dry. I think it also wise to
wait until this happens to sand the peice.
Try it on the bottom of something or on a scrap. Worst case you're
out $2.59 in Red Devil Lye Drain Cleaner. If you do this WEAR GLOVES
AND TAKE ANY PRECAUTIONS NOTED ON THE PACKAGE. I can't believe people
used to wash with this stuff.
I couldn't find any lye, so I bought a bottle of drain cleaner made of
sodium and potassium hydroxide. It took about 2 hours to get it as dark as
the piece I am supposed to match. Sanding took some of the color off, but
also restored a little grain pattern to the otherwise nearly blank piece.
I can't see doing to an entire desk, and God only knows what it will do to
cherry plywood; but it was a fun experiment.
Must be the dilution. I dipped a piece in a 50% solution of sodium
hydroxide. Darkened too much in the time it took me to put it in and take
it out. I've not tried making it more dilute yet.
I've had very good results using two teaspoons of Red Devil lye in a pint of
water. Fifty percent seems like a pretty strong solution to me.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?
It sure it, that is industrial strength. Heavy stuff in a drum. We have a
couple of hundred gallons at work so I just gave it a try. I was astonished
at the fast reaction. I'd not even consider taking any home at that
Drain cleaner doesn't work nearly as well as lye (in my oppinion). I
used 1 tsp per cup and it worked perfectly. I did a king size panel bed
this way and it was the easiest thing in the world. I used the lye to
match up the wood, assembled, sanded as much as necessary and then re-
applied the lye. The spots that were already dark didn't darken any more
and any spots I'd sanded through darkened right back up.
I tried the same thing on some cherry plywood and it worked the same way,
BUT the plywood had a lot of sapwood in it and that didn't darken. I
assume that it looked the same after the lye treatment as it would have
after 20 years. If so, I'd sure have been dissappointed as the piece
aged if I was using the plywood.
BTW, I found that if the lye concentration was too high, it would leave
white residue after it dried. I had to use white vinegar to clean this
I know what will happen if I answer this.....BUT...
If you want to match store bought cherry furniture...or antiques....I use
Old Masters Cherry Wiping Stain item # 10504.....sand the cherry through 220
removing any burn marks, or scrape the piece. Use a natural bristle brush
and put a medium coat on.....I would take a piece of scrap and mask off 6"
sections, apply a medium coat to the entire piece, wait 5 minutes wipe one
section off....wait another 5 minutes and wipe the next off.....leave one
section without wiping so you will get a guage as to how dark you need to go
to match the other furniture.
After it is completely dry, up to several days, spary with several coats of
thinned shellac, or if you do not have a sprayer, a good quality brush, keep
a wet edge and do not go over any strokes. Wait until it is dry, usually
several hours, and hand buff with #0000 steel wool......tack it off and
apply at least one more coat. Wax when finished.
Sorry guys, but unless you want to wait about 100 years with the piece
sitting in a window gathering sun, this way works for me.
I guess the two big questions are- So its not blotchy? It doesn't darken
with time and overshoot the desired color?
No, there is a third question - How do I buy it? A google didn't turn
You need better friends. A friend of yours is going to get pissed at you
because the desk you made him isn't the right color? Sounds more like a
client than a friend and you should never mix business and pleasure.
Personally, I'd tell him that it might not match, ask him if he wants you to
make it anyway, then have a couple of beers and talk about women.
Larry C in Auburn, WA
"Toller" < email@example.com> wrote in message
He's simply fussy, and wouldn't have any use for it if it doesn't match.
Better to be upfront about it then to have him be unhappy with it.
He is a surgeon, and I guess it is good that he is a perfectionist.
I think you are missing the point a little bit. As an exact match is in the eye
of the beholder, one of the best pieces of advice I every received in this
group was to tell my clients (fussy or not) that I can give them a 100%
guarantee that the colour of the new piece will not match that of an existing
piece. This creates a reasonable expectation on the part of the client and
saves you from spending long hours trying to achieve the impossible. Cheers, JG
ps- While I will accept commissions from anyone I have two carpenter friends
who refuse to work for either physicians or teachers as they have found that as
a group they both have unreasonable expectations of others and are generally
cheap. ( Lower the protective shield around this ex-teacher)
My step father did a lot of work for doctors. He put enough in the estimate
to cover all the additional changes he anticipated as normal for them.
Absolutely. You want arrogance in your surgeon or your pilot.
See if you can find air-dried stock. Kiln-drying cherry bleaches it, which
helps hide the sapwood from you, but doesn't ever, in my opinion match the
air-dry kind. Where it's from seems to make a bit of a difference as well.
Pennsylvania stuff seems lighter than our midwest variety.
What you use for finish also makes a difference. I like running hot
Linseed/thinner in until refusal two or three times to cut down on the light
scatter from the surface before finishing with oil-based finishes.
The best finish I have found for Cherry is good ole tungue oil. A good rule
of thumb for using tongue oil is to apply it once every day for a week, once
a week for a month and once a month for a year, then every year after that.
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