Newbie questions on finish (Cherry Wood & Finish questions)

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by Thomas Anderson posted 05-23-2017 11:46 PM 2942 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Thomas Anderson's profile

Thomas Anderson

20 posts in 1284 days

05-23-2017 11:46 PM

Ok, I’ve been insprired by some things online and at hobby lobby, I’d like to get into woodworking and figured I’d start with something simple, a bandsaw box.

I’ve got the wood picked out, it’s cherry. Since it’s already a dark piece, I figured I’d finish it with some oil, but read someplace that cherry absorbs oil unevenly, leaving splotches.

What do you guys think, should I try it? Or do you think there’s a better way to give it a nice even shine?

Thanks – Thomas

23 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2683 days

#1 posted 05-24-2017 01:16 AM

Hey Thomas,
Yes, cherry can blotch pretty bad. One thing that can reduce it is pre-stain; just follow the instructions. However, if you want it to look rustic like HL stuff, it might look better with the blotch. You always can use both on two sides of the same board and go from there. If you want it shiny brush it with polyurethane, sand it smooth and give it a few coats of rub on poly which is regular poly thinned out with mineral spirit 40/60, 50/50 or so. Fairly thin is what you are after. First coat takes a while to dry especially if it is cold and or humid. I usually do the sanding the next day. Be sure to post the finish product for us.


View Rich's profile


6154 posts in 1505 days

#2 posted 05-24-2017 01:27 AM

I’ve had good success with glue size. It’s typically made with either diluted white glue, or hide glue granules dissolved in warm water. Since I always have liquid hide glue around, I simply mix it 1 part glue to 5 parts distilled water. Brush it on, let it dry, and lightly sand with 400 grit just enough to knock off the fibers that stand up and get hard.

Another thing I’ve noticed with cherry blotching is that you need to do test boards and look at them in the light they will be under when the final piece is displayed. My LED shop lights are harsh and make blotching appear much worse than it does when I bring the board in and look at it under the warmer halogen lights.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View ChefHDAN's profile


1780 posts in 3765 days

#3 posted 05-24-2017 01:51 AM

Welcome to LJ!

Cherry darkens with age, i don’t use a pre stain but i’m careful to also work with boards from the same tree, or ensure adjacent pieces are so that there are not great color variations, i go 5 to 7 coats of BLO and then after a week to 10 dats of cure light sand and shoot WB poly over the piece. Take a look at this table you can see that as it has aged it gains a really deep color from when first finished. This is a great site with lots of great advice, but don’t be afraid to just do it, you’ll make a lot of mistakes, and only a few of them can ever be noticed by someone else.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Rich's profile


6154 posts in 1505 days

#4 posted 05-24-2017 02:15 AM

i’m careful to also work with boards from the same tree

How do you do that? We have a premium lumber dealer here, but there’s no guarantee that you can get boards from the same tree. The only way I know to do that is to have access to someone who mills the lumber and stacks it in order. There is a mesquite mill down south of Tubac, AZ that does that, but it’s not something your typical lumber dealer can offer.

Edit: This “same tree” thing just didn’t sound right to me. I remembered a detailed piece from a Fine Woodworking book I have on why cherry is so varied in color, etc. Here is the pertinent text:

“You never can count on any two shipments of cherry being quite the same in either color or texture. Nor can you ever completely count on its consistency from board to board within a given shipment.”


“And if you’re tempted to blame all of this inconsistency on sloppy handling and sorting at the mill, you’d probably be wrong. In fact, much of the varied lumber in each shipment you receive actually may have come from the same log.”

Excerpt From: Taunton Press. “Woodworking Wisdom & Know-How.”

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View TungOil's profile


1383 posts in 1410 days

#5 posted 05-24-2017 02:38 AM

Cherry can be difficult to finish. Since your BS boxes will be smaller sized projects you can likely make them from a single board- this will go a long way to reducing color variations in each piece. I like the oil/varnish blends over cherry- Waterlox is one of my favorites (both the sleigh bed and the G&G tables in my projects section are Waterlox). I like the way it brings up the grain on cherry without the need for any stain. The General Finishes Arm-R-Seal is another good option. Whatever you choose, try to experiment on a piece of scrap to see if you like it.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View a1Jim's profile


118144 posts in 4493 days

#6 posted 05-24-2017 04:01 AM

Welcome to Ljs
Cherry is on the list of woods that will blotch, there are a number of ways people try and combat blotch one is using a conditioner of some sort .some companies make conditioners but most of them are oil based products that can be cut through with the use of oil base finishes. other options involve using thinned down shellac or glue, some folks claim to have good success with those approaches. The product I use and have had good success with is made by a woodworking & finishing expert called Charles Neil.If you want to learn woodworking & finishing he has an online show that you can subscribe to or look at all of his videos on Youtube and get tips.

Her’es a review I gave on his blotch control.


View Woodknack's profile


13522 posts in 3296 days

#7 posted 05-24-2017 05:08 AM

Play around with test pieces, oil looks fantastic on cherry.

-- Rick M,

View Rich's profile


6154 posts in 1505 days

#8 posted 05-24-2017 05:34 AM

Charles Neil is a member here. It would be very educational to hear his expert voice on these issues. Sadly, his response to my comment on this thread seems to tell the story. What a great loss to this community.

I’m new here on LJ, but participated on rec.woodworking throughout the 90s and early 2000s, up until USENET jumped the shark. It was then, and clearly is now, a community of those who know, and know-it-alls. I guess it’s like the rest of online forums.

I’m no expert, but when I share something that worked for me, and people jump in and say there’s no way that could work, I wonder why I bother. More and more, I choose to move on and not reply.

However, just like a crappy round of golf, where there was that one tee shot that was a thing of beauty, the few times I can make a difference makes it worth it.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6212 posts in 3225 days

#9 posted 05-24-2017 06:46 AM

This is a picture of a maple butcher block counter. As we all know maple is prone to blotching. What you see here is the Charles Neil conditioner applied per instruction. 1 coat of oil base stain, and one coat of General finishes High Performance Polyurethane Water Based Topcoat. No blotching.

I’m not saying this is the only product or way to do this. Just showing how this product worked for me in this case.
I’ll probably do some experimenting with other methods as the Charles Neil product gets pretty spendy with shipping.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View a1Jim's profile


118144 posts in 4493 days

#10 posted 05-24-2017 01:38 PM

Charles still comments here on occasion.


View pontic's profile


804 posts in 1524 days

#11 posted 05-24-2017 01:53 PM

Watco Natural and elbow grease only.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1664 days

#12 posted 05-24-2017 02:32 PM

I like working with Cherry, but it can be difficult to finish. I’ve used the Charles Neil blotch controller and liked it a lot. And sometimes I let it blotch. I was visiting a pro woodworker a few years ago, and I asked what he did with Cherry and th blotching. He said he ignored it. That sounded odd, but I kept my mouth shut. I went home and made a small box, ignored blotching and finished it with stain and Waterlox, and I liked the result. In my view blotching on cherry is much more attractive and tolerable than blotching on Maple.

Working with cherry and maple, I do a LOT of test boards before I go on to the final finish.

As for my favorite stain on cherry, it’s JE Moses’s Dark Wine Cherry. Great color.

I can see why many folks don’t comment on forum topics. I comment much less than I used to. This forum is better than most, being generally polite.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2501 posts in 4786 days

#13 posted 05-24-2017 02:49 PM

If your just going to oil it, then while this sounds crazy.. it works well .. wipe it with water , the wipe it off then immediately wipe a coat of oil on .. the water keeps the oil from migrating into the soft grain and blotching so bad.. once the oil is dry then just do wiped coats … but use a good drying oil like Arm R seal or minwax wipe on poly.. slow drying oils blotch worse .. like BLO or Pure oils .
On natural cherry , usually unless the blotching is really bad in about 6 months its isnt noticable as the the rest of the cherry darkens … oils and any solvent finish actually react with the wood and give the color change .. few clear oils have enough actual color to make a difference … spraying is the best way , because when wiping or brushing the softer grains can absorb more and thus blotch more .. spraying a light coat doesnt afford the soft grains any excess to absorb … on a small project a rattle can of lacquer is sure quick fast and easy

View OSU55's profile


2658 posts in 2905 days

#14 posted 05-24-2017 03:14 PM

Blotch control. Oil, poly, and color

I use dye in MW poly, thinned 1:1 or more, a lot on smaller items not sprayed. Depends on the intensity of color desired.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6571 posts in 3409 days

#15 posted 05-24-2017 03:34 PM

One man’s blotch is another man’s figure…I wouldn’t worry about and oil away.As mentioned above, cherry changes color (fairly quickly) and you won’t even notice it over time.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics