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custom design woodworks » Blog Archive » Good Article on the Color of Cherry Wood

Good Article on the Color of Cherry Wood

 

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Sal Marino and published on the website www.woodworking.com.    It is an excellent summary of the aging and color characteristics of cherry wood:

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Cherry has been one of the most popular furniture woods for the past two hundred years. It is one of the easiest hardwoods to work with either hand, machine or power tools and has a nice smell when cut.

Another reason for its popularity is that it darkens and develops a beautiful deep red patina over time.

When cherry is freshly cut, milled into boards and dried, it has a very light pinkish color. The color also varies, sometimes even within the same board. It is only after a number of years that it starts to develop its deep red color. Years ago, furniture makers sometimes tried to stain cherry to achieve the aged color immediately, but the majority was left unstained to darken naturally.
Then, about 50 years ago, cherry furniture became very popular and manufactures were building a great deal of it. One of the first problems the manufactures discovered was that when they tried to stain the cherry, it did not take stain very evenly. Instead of staining, they applied a toned finish. They found out that adding color to the lacquer or varnish instead of directly staining the cherry would somewhat eliminate the problem of an uneven color.

Regardless of the materials or technique used, staining cherry is still difficult. The highly figured swirl grain often seen in cherry is what makes it difficult to accept stain evenly. The grain density in this swirl figure varies from soft to hard, therefore the soft areas will soak up a stain while the hard areas will not make the stain penetrate well. The end result is a blotchy, uneven color.

Even if you are successful in achieving a uniform deep red color, it will not last. As the cherry naturally ages, it will become darker and eventually, the color may be too dark due to the stain you applied and the natural darkening. This will happen more quickly especially if you use dye satins. The safest way to achieve a deep red natural cherry color without any chance of blotching or the wood becoming too dark is to let mother nature do her work.

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