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Woodcutter 12-13-2007 11:43 AM

Staining solid cherry wood
I am building a bar using solid cherry for the front and sides. I am using raised panels, so I have lots of exposed end cuts. Some of the cherry is light colored, some darker. Some has very nice, wavy grain, others just straight. When I glued the panels together, I matched the grain and the hues as closely as I could. When the project is complete, I want to stain everything so that I have a nice even color and a smooth, satin finish.

What is the best way to prepare the wood so the ends cuts do not soak up so much stain that they appear black, and to ensure I get a consistant, even color across the wood surface?



Rehabber 12-13-2007 12:50 PM

Use a 'pre stain conditioner' available from Minwax Varathane, Etc. Use the one recommended by whichever stain manufacturer you are using. :thumbsup:

NateHanson 12-13-2007 01:25 PM

Depending on the color you're going for, the best way to get even color on cherry is to use oil (boiled Linseed oil mixed with turp and japan dryer, or a catalyzed oil finish like Watco). Cherry darkens considerably on its own in just a year or two when oiled. It gets a rich reddish brown, nothing like the pinkish hue of the raw wood.

If you're going for a really dark color though, that won't work for you.

Rehabber 12-13-2007 01:37 PM

I would not use BLO or danish oil or any other similar finish on a bar top :no: I would use a good polyurethane :yes:

StevePM 12-13-2007 02:55 PM

I'll second the poly -- especially if you'll have any crazy parties :eek:

I love the color variations in cherry -- it makes it look more like wood to me and less like plastic :thumbsup:

The last cherry I stained was a dining room set and I tried using pre-conditioner just on the end grain. If I had to do it again, I'd put the pre-conditioner on all surfaces for a more consistent look as it's hard to keep the pre-conditioner to just the end grain.

Good luck!

NateHanson 12-14-2007 07:16 AM

I was not suggesting using ONLY oil for a finish. I was suggesting using BLO as a stain. It richens any wood, and considerably darkens some woods. I use it under my top-coat on furniture more often than not.

As for Poly? I actually wouldn't use that on anything, especially a bar top or table top. For a table-top finish I'd use a catalyzed varnish, like Rockhard tabletop varnish, or a pour on bar-top varnish if you like that thick glassy look. At minimum I'd use a one-part alkyd varnish like Epifanes. Poly is too soft and unattractive for a tabletop, IMO.

joewho 12-15-2007 10:46 AM


If you have the time, experiment with your own sealer. It's made with 1pt. shellac and 5 pts. denatured alcohol. This is the standard formula.

For the open end grains, you can make it 4/1 or even 3/1. It would be great if you can experiment on scraps first.

troubleseeker 12-26-2007 08:03 PM

Why stain cherry, Isn't that against one of the Commandments?:yes:

The freshly cut wood will darken quite fast, and no stain will ever give you the beautiful patina of natural aged cherry.

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