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Thread: Finishing Cherry Cabinets

  1. #1

    Finishing Cherry Cabinets

    I am a first time user of this website and have a question about finishing cherry cabinets. I am building kitchen cabinets and have made the faceless boxes from birch with a clear polyurethane finish. They came out very nice and I am pleased with the results for a first time cabinet builder. The next step is building the Shaker style doors and drawer fronts. I am going to construct these with solid cherry rails and stiles and cherry plywood panels. I want the cabinets to have a natural cherry look and would prefer not to stain the wood. My preference is to apply a clear finish and let the wood age naturally. Now for the actual question; What is the best clear finish to use that will not only give me the best looking finish but the most durable. I applied the the polyurethane to the boxes with a Wagner vibrating sprayer and they came out better than I had anticipated. However, the boxes are pretty much hidden whereas the doors will be the main attraction and I worry the finish may not come out as well using the sprayer. Any help anyone can offer for a first time cabinet builder/finisher would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Welcome Chris !!!!!

    I'll let or finish pros answer this one. I always use BLO and wipe on poly on the cherry stuff I build But I'm not sure if it's durable enough for cabinets.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Thomasville, GA
    Welcome to the Family, Chris.

    I start with BLO/Naphtha in a 1/1 mix to deepen the color and pop the grain. Being in the South, I usually do this outdoors, then let the Sun do a little work while I continue to wipe the surface of any seepage. The more time in the Sun, the better the color gets.

    There are a wide variety of topcoats you can use. I've used wipe-on poly, sprayed poly, lacquer and shellac depending on the project. For kitchen cabinets, poly is always a good choice.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia
    Welcome Chris. Delighted to have you here. I'm sure you'll see some more responses to your question before long.

    welcome to the family.


    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Welcome to the family Chris. I am too much of an amateur to advise you but i hope some others here can.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    BLO, Sun Tan, Arm R Seal
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Outside the beltway
    I do Cherry all the time and for a good natural that will not yellow. You can use an Acrylic lacquer sealer and a Pre-cat acrylic clear. 3-4 coat sealer, sanding between coats and 3-4 coats clear. If you need to tweak the color tone of the ply cherry to the hard wood which many time you do, you can put a bit of Cherry stand which might need to tad of green to darken it a bit in last coat of sealer and the 1st coat of clear.
    If you have the ability not to use acrylic I would do that.

    Recently I've done some cherry that have been finished with BLO and the change with Lacquer is a big difference in color.
    Last edited by Dave Hawksford; 10-20-2010 at 01:14 PM.
    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.
    ::: Andrew Wyeth :::

  8. #8
    Thanks to all for the warm welcome! I have been having a great time building my kitchen cabinets and have learned a great deal in the process. I look forward to many more projects and using this great forum to help with those projects.
    One thing I've learned is you can build the perfect cabinets, but if you don't get the finish right all your hard work is for not. My local Amish wood supplier has given me several pieces of cherry to work with different stains and finishes. So far I am not pleased with any of the finishes I have tried which is the reason for the original post.
    I have recieved a few responses saying they use BLO, I now feel like a real rookie, and I know sometimes I am a little slow, but what is BLO? As I typed this reply it came to me that it may be Boiled Linseed Oil? Also, using plywood panels, is there anything I would need to do differently with the finish as compared to the solid rails and stiles?
    Thanks again to everyone for their repsonses. I have enough cherry to try all the suggestions so far.

  9. #9
    Just to let you I tried your method of staining cherry on the sample pieces of wood and they came out great. This was exactly what we were looking for and it is very easy to apply and maintain a consistent finish. The BLO looked great but adding the Naptha really makes a difference allowing the grain to stand out. Thank you for the advice!

    I do have another question about trying to get that same/similar look on birch and pine? I have a pine 6 panel door that I would like to try and match to the cherry cabinets. I also have birch that I would like to get close as well. I tried Minwax cherry stain and it is to brown, I have Watco Danish Oil in cherry that I may try tonight. On cherry it was too red but it might be the ticket for pine or birch.

  10. #10
    Would these same finishing techniques be suitable for a cherry bedroom set (bed, desk, highboy)? If not, what would? Thanks.

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