I've been working a lot in the past weeks with cherry for the first
time. I've obviously discovered many interesting facts and I had a few
questions regarding its ability to change color rapidly.
I planed a few pieces 2 weeks ago and left them pilled up on my bench.
I planed some more pieces from the same board later on and was
surprised on how much color change can happen in so little time... The
pieces that had something on top still had their original color when
planed but the edges already started to turn brown.
I was wondering how furniture makers are dealing with that "problem".
If you deliver a freshly made and finished piece of furniture made out
of cherry, what happen if the client leaves a vase, a bowl or anything
else on the wood? If one side is more exposed near a window, will you
get a side darker that the other one within a few months? Do the
reaction of the wood related to air, to light, or both?
I'm seeking some advices on how to make sure I don't get some
unpleasant results or best, provide good advices to future clients
when dealing with freshly made cherry furniture.
Thanks for shedding some light over this somehow dark subject... ;)
There's a couple of different approaches I'm aware of. The first,
obviously, is to stain it, getting it dark enough that any color
changes later won't be apparent. Gel stains tend to work well - that's
how I did my first piece in cherry.
While I was pleased with the result at the time, I later felt the look
to be rather "artificial", and was stumped for a solution until I came
across this piece of advice:
After it is assembled, scraped and sanded, sunbathe your furniture. Not
in the heat of noon during high summer, obviously - spring and early
winter are best, or early morning at the beginning of summer. You don't
want so much heat - or direct sunlight - that the wood begins to warp.
Do that for a couple of hours each day for a few days, and then apply
finish (I prefer Danish oil, your tastes may vary). You'll find that
the sunbathed cherry is rich and dark (this works on cherry ply, also).
It will continue to darken over the years if exposed to sunlight, but
under normal indoor conditions that change will be very incremental,
and barely noticable.
Just make very sure not to leave anything on the cherry while it's
sunbathing! A newspaper left on a tabletop will leave a "tan line" that
will be impossible to equalize with the rest of the surface without
sanding back to an unexposed layer of wood.
I had a cherry table sitting in another shop where they had placed a
magazine on top which left "tan lines". I brought it back and set it
in a sunny window. It took a while but it did even out to where I
can't tell there were ever any there. The piece had a natural stain
with an OIL based poly, which I would think would make a difference
vs. water based. Jana
As another poster already said, one way is to expose all pieces to sunlight.
As for furniture makers, many go another route. My daughter bought a fairly
expensive cherry coffee table, then asked me to make two end tables to match.
I took a good look at what the manufacturer did, and ended up going to
Homestead (www.homesteadfinishing.com) to to help me fill in the details.
Although there are many steps, basically a glaze is used to bring all pieces
to a matching color. Frankly, we all thought the new end tables looked much
better in natural cherry, and my preference would have been to use sunlight or
a lamp to darken them, and just accept any remaining differences. But many
people who buy them don't want the differences, and a glaze or some other
method of applying pigment (in addition to dye) may be the only way to hold
them the same. As existing furniture had to be matched, I didn't have a
choice, either. In the end, I had a near perfect match in two of three light
On 13 Sep 2004 11:15:51 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (BeniBoose) wrote:
We would have far fewer wars, lawsuits, divorces, and most
importantly... far less staining of cherry if people could adopt this
simple notion. When I recently completed the simple
mantelshelfofsolidcherry for some friends of mine, their reaction was,
"Well, looks like we're gonna have to toss the cherry veneered stereo
Yeah, cherry's like that.
As you discovered Cherry has a very pronounced property of darkening due
to exposure to light. The good news is that this effect is fairly
shallow so varied darkening that occurs between cutting and sanding is
very easily sanded out. I ran an experiment along these lines and found
that the depth of darkening on some wood that had been stored for months
was only about 0.007 inch and was easily sanded to a uniform color.
Regarding finished furniture, the darkening occurs most rapidly
initially and then the darkening rate slows over time so the occasional
placement of items like vases won't make obvious marks unless the vase
isn't moved for years or the vase is placed on a fresh piece. Moving
the piece and letting the natural effects of lighting will soon balance
I love the color of Cherry and was initially disappointed in my earlier
pieces when they never seemed to have the right color when finished.
I've since learned to be patient and am amply rewarded with beautiful
furniture after a couple of months of display. I have learned to avoid
the temptation to speed the process artifically.
On 13 Sep 2004 11:15:51 -0700, email@example.com
I have done some pretty extensive cherry projects in my
short < 30 years woodworking. I love and hate working with
It saw burns just looking at it. but I do love its
All three of my daughters have a desk made of cherry and I
know how much trouble it can be.
I finished all the desks then gassed them with industrial
ammonia used to make blue prints from.
that ammonia caused the cherry to age and get its patina in
less than a few days.
I drove around with a piece of cherry on the dash of my
truck for months and never got the same effect from using
the ammonia in a tent I made from scrap lumber and sheet
plastic to make a semi air tight enclosure.
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