I made some shelves to go over a window in my bedroom out of cherry. I
applied some shellac to a piece of scrap and it's obvious that I'm going to
need to stain it to get that typical dark cherry that I'm looking for. Is
there something at the home centers that'll do this or am I going to have to
order something online to get that dark cherry I'm looking for out of this
Roy is correct. You will most likely get the shade you desire by
exposing the cherry to sunlight. What I am unsure of is, if you do
stain it, would the stain prevent any darkening beyond its
When I was making my cherry bed in June I did a lot of the work
outside and I was not paying attention so some peices (a few slats )
were interlaced and developed alternating bands of light and dark.
Exposing the entire surface eventually blened them to near
In other words, don't stain it but wait until you get the shade you
Just one (cave)man's thoughts.
Most would call staining Cherry blasphemous (including myself)! Let the
sun do it's work. And if you don't have time to let them sit in the sun
for a couple of days, they will
darken naturally anyway even in the house, albeit slower than if they were
in direct sunlight.
I thought the darkening of cherry was an oxidation thing, not a uv thing.
In fact, I remember reading in a FWW that sunlight will actually *bleach*
cherrry. Now I have to go find the issue where I saw that......
Issue was may/june 2000, article was by Jeff Jewitt. I was only partially
right. Sun and oxidation to darken, but cherry left in direct sunlight for
extended periods of time will bleach. Guess my memory wasn't as good as I
thought. At least I think it's not.... dang, now I can't remember.....
Well, if it was an oxidation thing then I would suspect Cherry would not
darken under an non-breathable finish,
which most are. I've had cherry darken in just a matter of hours when the
sun hits it (granted I'm in NM where the
sun is about as harsh as it gets and we have less oxygen here given our
altitude). I'd be interested to see if it's really the
UV or oxygen but I've always been led to believe it's the UV.
Absolutely a UV thing. Friends bought cherry bedroom furniture several
years ago. The wife knowing that I was a wood worker told me of this about
3 weeks after they got it. I warned her to be careful about placing any
thing on the dresser for extended periods of time until the furniture was a
An hour later she called me to inform me that she mover her 4 footed jewelry
box for the first time since putting it on the dresser. There was a jewelry
box sized spot under on the dresser. Air was able to get under the box but
not much light got under there.
Hmmm -- should have done a google search before posting this. I see a
few subtle flames from the blasphemy furnace have started. I'll not
flame; though I too hold that staining cherry if *generally* a really
bad idea. In general, we don't have shop classes any more so people
are uneducated about wood and unable to appreciate anything beyond
Ikea. That coupled with the lack of patience that pervades our
society causes the search for a quick fix.
In contrast to most, I will point out that not all cherry is the same
color, nor will it be the same color when aged. For example, I have
a few cherry pieces which were made over a two year window. One is
the deepest darkest red I've ever seen in un-stained/painted cherry --
about the same color as the purple paint used on mass produced stuff.
Another is very light (no it's not sapwood) running almost to pink and
orange. These are all natural variations. Fresh off the saw the
former was darker/redder than the latter after aging. I'm glad they
aren't the same -- if I wanted uniform color I'd have plastic
furniture. Cherry particularly is sensitive to geography/soil.
Cherry from SE MN will often go almost grey rather than red; from
southern IN it'll vary but can often be blood red; PA cherry is the
So a big question: let's say you find the stain you want. Will it be
what you want *after* the wood under the stain darkens?
No kidding.... this is a fight not worth starting. Some would rather
sit with a wonderfully finished piece of cherry that is soft pink,
knowing that over many years their grandkids >might< wind up with the
color of wood they see in a magazine or furniture building book. To
them it is much better to wait a few decades and feel like a
traditionalist rather than than toning or applying dye to wood to make
it look like a traditional cherry piece that is a couple of hundred
Personally, I want to enjoy things now. Besides, I don't have 50 - 75
years to wait to see >>>>IF<<<< the current cherry harvest would yield
wood that would consistantly turn into that beautiful deep brick red
color that it did when it was old growth New England cherry from 200
years ago. Too many factors come into play; today's modern resin
finishes, climatized air in homes, lack of natural light in homes,
All good points, hex. Especially about the regional differences.
Down here in South Texas, we don't have cherry in any amount except as
an import for other areas. And since wood is bought and sold as a
commodity, you really never know what region (much less forest!) you
load of cherry came from. Even our good local supplier buys on the
spot market from one of several suppliers, and when he gets in a
shipment, it all goes into the warehouse, this shipment mixed with
And I have NO doubt that we don't get the good stuff; I have seen
furniture made from cherry actually bought on the NE coast. When
comparing that to the stuff we get here, it honestly looks like a
different species of wood. Some of ours is so gray that it looks like
weathered birch to me.
And guess what... leaving it out in the sun makes it turn a pinkish
I think every intelligent finisher needs to know and understand the
medium in which he works. If leaving wood out in the sun gets it the
color you want, great! But -some purists still insist that to get the
completely authentic look of brick red cherry, you must fume. (C'mon,
you don't really think they left those Federalist highboys out in the
back yard in the sun for a couple of days to let it work over the
joints and hide glue didja? How would every joint and 90 degree angle
hidden in the piece get to be the same exact color?).
I personally think whatever gets you where you want to go is what you
should do. I think it is a shame to stain or slather poly on ANY
pretty piece of wood, no matter what species. And I have the patience
of an oyster sometimes.
But if the wood isn't cooperating and after a couple of tests, and if
I don't get what I want... out comes the dyes and gels.
As always, just my 0.02.
cherry that I'm looking for. Is there >something at the home centers that'll do
this or am I >going to have to order something online to get that dark >cherry
I'm looking for out of this cherry?
Sorry Craig, I was intrigued by hex's post and went OT.
I would think that you might strike out at any of the home stores, but
as far as colorants go you have some good suggestions with the Old
Masters, but I would stick to the gel products - they are excellent.
Prcatice a little on another piece of wood, not your project so you
can see how fast you work. If you need to, you can thin the gel a bit
to make it work easier and to have less witness marks on your laps.
Other gels aren't that forgiving.
For me, I would mix up some Behlens Solar Lux (online, Woodcraft,
etc.) and spray it on. I get great performance from this product, and
for its use, I don't think any other product out there can match it.
Great depth of color, great consistency, and takes any finish you
apply very well.
hmmm ... I did my kitchen cabinets in Cherry this past winter. I'm getting a
significant darkening in just a few months. Me thinks that 50-75 years is a
bit exagerated for the wait period. In the 6 months that I have had the
cabinets up in the kitchen I have gotten a very satisfying darkening.
Yep, I agree -- 50 to 75 *weeks* is more than enough to see a considerable,
and very pleasing, deep rich color. An (approx) 18-yo cherry bookcase in my
living room hasn't become discernibly darker in the last eight to ten years.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
On Oct 22, 3:19 pm, email@example.com (Doug Miller) wrote:
The cherry we get down here from our suppliers is just crap for
finishing. It is structurally sound, easy to work and expensive.
Leaving it out in the sun makes the stuff I have bought streak
different colors. Over a period of time, the project looks
unsatisfactory to me as the gray areas never really turn.
My brother in law is from the midwest (Ohio) and they have all manner
of really nice woods at their fingertips. When we looked at woods for
a project in his house, the cherry we looked at looked fine to me.
Used to looking at the stuff from his hometown, he thought I was
joking. He thought I was looking at utility shelf material to use on
his project, not appearance grade wood.
And for me, it may be different different circumstances that drive
me. When someone hires me to finish a piece for them, they don't want
to think that it <could> look like the picture of something they saw
in a magazine. They don't want to bet on the fact that in a year it
<might> look like the finish they paid for, or worse, even change to
color they don't like. Then what?
They go to Ethan Allen or to the furniture galleries and say "this is
what I want. Can you do this?" That's pretty much the long and the
short of the discussion. It goes from there if the answer is "yes".
It is totally different than having a quality, dependable product (not
what we have here!) that gives one reasonable expectations of
performance when using it. And it is different too, than having a
nice project sit in your house for a couple of years to see what you
have after it gently ages, and just as interesting to see when it will
I would love to have some cherry like that.
Note too, the difference of opinion here. Leon and others say it is
UV exposure that changes the color. That has certainly been my
But a deceased contractor friend of mine's widow called me last year
and wanted me to buy cherry that has been sitting in his old shop for
about 18 - 20 years. Guess what color it is? Gray and pink. Except
for the sap pockets, it looks no more like cherry than a lightly
stained pine board (with no knots). It has sat exposed, unfinished,
open to the air and has had no appreciable color change.
Yet Mike can put up finished (I would assume with some kind of sealer)
in his kitchen and in just six months be really satisfied with the
I'm tellin' ya, its different wood. All cherry no doubt, but the good
stuff stays up north.
That too, is why most of the custom furniture makers down here DON"T
use it. Last year at the Texas Furniture Maker's Guild show, I only
saw cherry as accents.
And once again, as always, just my 0.02.
SFWIW, the cherries from those cherry trees make very good pies.
Sounds like you need to make a deal with your BIL. and have him serve
as your freight forwarder.
Freight can't be that big a deal, less than 1,500 miles from Cleveland
to San Antonio, probably less than 100 lbs per job.
BTW, what part of Ohio?
You know, I had not thought of that. I am not sure why, but we have
discussed all manner of things >but< direct ship point to point.
When he went back home this last year to see his people he brought me
back a beautiful piece black walnut (I have never seen anything like
this in person!) that was about 12 inches around and 16 inches long,
cut very close to the root ball so it should good and swirly. It is
for my lathe work, and it should be a beauty. I literally have
nowhere to get a piece of walnut like that here, and it brings real
tears to my eyes to know that he picked it up at the wood dump (WTF is
a wood dump?) with some pieces of cherry.
He kills me when he tells me how much wood that would be great for
woodturning is literally burned in the fireplace every year. As a kid
he regularly burned walnut, any kind of cherry, whatever kind of maple
they had, and oak. The "wild cherry" (never seen one) was explained
to me to be a trash tree, as was silver maple, and some around him
wouldn't even burn it. It went to the tree dump.
As a sidebar, he told me that many times the logs at the dump were so
big, he couldn't move them around, species and type unknown. But you
could take them if you could haul them away. It is no mystery to me
that that the reason so many wonderfully talented and prolific
furniture makers live in the Midwest.
Worcester, perviously known as the home of Rubbermaid. As a rite of
passage, like so many in the town he even worked there during his high
You gotta be kidding me.
It's Wooster, named after General Wooster, my home town.
Newell moved Rubbermaid out of town, but Wooster Brush is still going
What is BIL name? Might even know the family.
Heyyy... (chuckle) I don't go much north of the Mason/Dixon unless I
have safe passage. He would be a little pissed at me for that as he
has tried hard to educate me in the way of the Buckeye.
I have to say though, that the pictures my sister has brought back
over the years have been incredibly gorgeous. Lush hilly landscapes,
lots of hardwood trees, GREEN vegetation due to rain, etc. It looks
like a pastoral farmland from a book. NOTHING like South Texas. We
have our postcard scene shots down here, but it isn't the rule.
His parents were Ken and Esther Zimmerman. They lived there pretty
much all their lives, and in the same house since they were married.
He passed about 3 years ago, and BIL's Mom is now down here in a rest
home in Houston so they can keep an eye on her and help take care of
her. She is now 85.
There are some fine old names in use up there with the remaining
family, those in their late 70s and early-mid eighties. Uncle Wilbur
(I kid you not), Uncle Orville (I kid you not), Uncle Floyd (yup),
Aunt Etta, Aunt Cotta, Aunt Ruth, etc. Their clan sounds like a step
back in time. And living out there in that beautiful farmland they
certainly move to a different drummer.
BIL's name is Gary, and his brother is Ken (Jr.). Ring any bells?
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