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Thread: Another Cherry Finishing Question

  1. #1
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    Another Cherry Finishing Question

    I've made the Tilt Top Table from a Norm project, in Cherry. I don't plan to dye or stain it, letting it age naturally. But I'm curious about a couple of things. I know Cherry has a tendancy to show blotches. Since I'm not using any dyes or stains, I want to make sure I avoid these.

    To get the grain figure to show better, I'll probably use Watco Danish Natural as the first step. Then maybe WaterLox or, wipe on polyurethane. But if my memory serves, even with Danish Oil, can blotches still show? I don't have hardley any sapwood in the project, but I still don't want the boards to show uneven.

    Should I consider the Minwax Conditioner? If I choose something like clear dewaxed Shellac as the base, can I forget the Danish Oil to get the grain firgure to really show through?

    I read Terry Brown's post on his Cherry project and I agree with the advice. I've stayed away from dye & stain on Cherry. I saw Bill Esposito's Cherry rocker and I admire how even it looks. Maybe some of that success is due to board selection? From his pictures, maybe I'll be alright with just Danish Oil and then a clear top coat as he suggests.
    I've cleaned the piece with mineral spirits and to check the color and consistancy of the wood. If blotches were going to be a problem, would I see them at this point before it evaporates?

    Thanks, all comments welcomed.
    Mike
    Last edited by Mike Jory; 04-06-2007 at 06:48 PM.
    My Dad taught me that it's better to keep my mouth shut and let people think I was stupid, than open it and remove all doubt.

  2. #2
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    I'm not an expert at all the options you are considering, but I have done a lot of cherry furniture, and hate any stain or dye (other than perhaps a little dye to hide sapwood), and just put on a clear finish (I recently switched from solvent lacquer to water based)
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  3. #3
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    It's been my understanding that the blotchiness in cherry was only a potential problem when you used stains or dyes, but using a clear finish (including oil like Danish Oil) wouldn't blotch. Is this not the case? (There's a lot about finishing cherry that I don't know, so do I have it mixed up?)

    I've only built a few small-scale projects like boxes out of cherry, and used BLO to pop the grain followed by a few coats of something clear. I've not had any blotchiness problems.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    It's been my understanding that the blotchiness in cherry was only a potential problem when you used stains or dyes, but using a clear finish (including oil like Danish Oil) wouldn't blotch. Is this not the case? (There's a lot about finishing cherry that I don't know, so do I have it mixed up?)

    I've only built a few small-scale projects like boxes out of cherry, and used BLO to pop the grain followed by a few coats of something clear. I've not had any blotchiness problems.
    I've seen numerous mentions of cherry blotchiness over the years. But I've never understood it. I've made a number of projects out of cherry. I've finished with shellac, with waterlox, with Tried-n-true Original Finish, with varathane... and I think it all looks fine. I've never seen this blotchiness that people warn about.

    Here are two closeups of a bench that I made in '05 from Cherry. It was finished with Circa 1850 Tung-n-Teak oil, IIRC.
    Attachment 6879Attachment 6880

    Here is a closeup of a shelf I made last year. I finished it with one coat of shellac, followed by 2-3 coats of Flecto WB Varathane.
    Attachment 6881

    I've begun to wonder if Cherry "blotch" is, well maybe not a myth, but one of those things where some people see it, and others (like me) just see the "way cherry looks".

    ...art

  5. #5
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    I've never had any blotching with cherry when I applied a clear finish on it. And I don't know anyone who has ever had that problem. Maybe it's an urban legend.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies.
    This past weekend, I took the safe route and applied Natural Danish Oil. I've put Danish Oil on practically everything I've made. Always with good safe results. I've brought it into the house to dry for a week or two before I decide what top coat I'll apply.

    After I drastically reduced the image size, I was finaly able to get examples of the table uploaded to show the finish.
    My Dad taught me that it's better to keep my mouth shut and let people think I was stupid, than open it and remove all doubt.

  7. #7
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    Looks real good, Mike. Very nice work.

    One thing you might try on the photo resizing is to save the picture at a bit bigger physical size (like 800 x 600 pixels), but knock the picture "quality" down to 80% to 90% of the "best" quality setting in your photo software. That will usually get the picture down to a workable size, but leave the image big enough to show more detail. Here's a tutorial I did on picture resizing a while back. Or if you're stumped, e-mail the pics to me and I'll tweak 'em. (Your table deserves to be shown off.)
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  8. #8
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    Try the freeware program PIXresizer. It does a good job of reducing the size of the file while allowing the picture to be big enough to show the detail.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  9. #9
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    Mike, Yes... I have PixResizer and use it on my XP machine. I was doing the photo work on a Win98 laptop. Pix.. is a XP only program.
    Thanks,
    Mike
    My Dad taught me that it's better to keep my mouth shut and let people think I was stupid, than open it and remove all doubt.

  10. Hey art. You actually do have "blotches" in your pics there. But here's the deal with so-called blotchiness: one man's blotch is another man's figure. What many folks refer to as blotchiness is the fact that the wood absorbs different amounts of stain in different areas. This is a common phenomenon in cherry, alder, maple, and birch, just to name a few. The different absorption rates can be caused by the properties of the wood itself or even changes in grain direction. But when its due to changing grain direction, we like to call it "figure". So when the pattern is repeating, its pleasant to look at. But when you just have a few spots of uneven absorption here and there, some people call it blotchy and consider it unpleasant.
    Now when you just clear coat it, this blotching is not as noticeable because there is no dye or pigment that gives us a visible indicator of the absorption rate. If you look closely at some of Arts pictures, you will see light and dark areas. To my eye, this is a beautiful thing and give the piece depth and interest. But to some, its blotchy. So its definitely not an urban legend, but I do feel that in some cases, its really just a matter of taste.

    marc
    For online video tutorials and other woodworking stuff, check out TheWoodWhisperer.com

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