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I was hoping to get some help here - many years ago I built a small cabinet from solid cherry and finished it with Maloof's oil/poly and oil/wax system and it turned out beautifully, gracefully aging to a nice dark color. About a year ago I had to move the piece and placed it in front of a south facing window. Within months, the top of the cabinet began to lighten and fade, and now it looks totally washed out - almost like it was bleached! I had heard that this can happen, but I never heard if it can be reversed. Does anyone know what I can do?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Matt, the idea that the wood is bleached surprises me. How about posting some pictures of the cabinet.

I have never heard of cherry being bleached by exposure to sunlight. As Julian commented exposure to light darkens cherry rather than bleaching it. Just guessing I would suspect that the color change you are seeing is a change in the finish rather than the wood.

In looking at the msds for the Maloof Oil/Wax finish it is not recommeded for areas that will get exposure to heat or moisture. It is possible that what you are seeing is a reaction of the wax finish to the heat from sitting in the sun.

Basically the Maloof oil/wax formula is just equal parts of BLO and raw tung oil with small amounts of carnuba and bees wax added. This should be readily removed with mineral spirits. I would suggest if you want to try this to do so in an inconspicious area first and see if it improves the look of the cabinet.
 

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I'm not sure what you are experiencing, but it goes against what I've experienced with cherry. and it aging in color. I guess I'd also consider the finish and what might have happened there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, guys. I know that cherry darkens with age and UV exposure - this piece darkened beautifully over many years before this happened. Granted, the decision to put it in direct southern exposure light probably wasn't te best idea, but I didn't expect this. I'll try to post some pics that show what I mean.

Scott B. - I didn't consider the Maloof finish as a culprit - I might try removing the finish on the piece and refinishing with new oil - that might work. Thanks!
 

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You mentioned an oil/wax system.I am not sure what that means but I would try and remove the wax and apply a new coat.I dont find a problem leaving cherry exposed to sunlight for a long period of time as long as you have nothing sitting on top of the cabinet and it can get equal light on all visible sides
 

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I agree with the others about cherry darkening in sunlight.

If it really is cherry, after you remove the finish that is on it you can spray it will diluted lye. Just a spray bottle with some diluted Drano. Just make sure you do it in an open area and wear a respirator.

Makes a beautiful mellow color that IMHO comes after 10-15 years of exposure.

Lee
 

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I'm not so sure its the UV from sunlight but more likely just the air exposure that is responsible for cherry darkening. The way to test it is to use a bleaching process (which is what sunlight is) on the cherry and see if it darkens it…My guess is that it will lighten.
 

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Could the fading be due to the old finish drying out from the sun exposure. The wood itself, as everyone has said, will darken. I have a walnut sofa table that has been hit with sunlight in one corner for years, and "looks" lighter in that area because the oil finish is completely dried out.
 

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Cherry will bleach if left in a window with intense sunlight. It happened to a small table I built some time ago which consisted of some sap wood and mostly heart wood. The salmon color of the heart wood bleached out as did the sap wood. It was one of the first projects I finished and not knowing anything I put the "Good Stuff" on it. It looked great . The sap wood was a nice brown and the heart wood a deeper brown. Then one day a lamp on the table got moved and I realized the table really faded. The legs facing the window were bleached light while the sides away kept their darker color. But was is in front of a 12 foot by 6 foot window so it got a real lot of intense sun.
I just stripped the while thing and have placed the top in the window to dry to get rid of the dark circle from the lamp. It is getting lighter and some of the bleached spots seem to maybe be tinted a little brown but really not getting darker.
So yes too much sun will bleach cherry Especially if it has the good stuff on it and it stays that way when the product is removed. At least for now.
 

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I've had a piece of cherry in the windshield of my car for about 2 years. (Someday I'll take it and finish the toy) It has had no finish applied and it is quite bleached out.
 

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I agree cherry will bleach out if left in direct sunlight. You probably will have to strip it down and stain it. I think about any wood will bleach out, if left in intense sunlight.
I seen a desk that the end was right up to a window, not only did it bleach out, but it destroyed the veneer that was on it. Loose and cracked everywhere.
 

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I think I would look at trying to do something with the window. I'm sure there is something that would cut down on the uv and heat transfer. You could probably use a finish with some uv protection, but I'm not sure any will stand up to that south window.
I have had good luck with Hood stains.
 

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You're right the big window faces south. The cherry table will have to go somewhere else. Ill call general finishes and see if they have any other recommendations. They are very helpful people. thanks for your comment.
 
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