Looking for a simple finish substitute for cherry

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Forum topic by jamsomito posted 02-17-2019 12:31 PM 488 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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427 posts in 753 days

02-17-2019 12:31 PM

I’m making some wall signs for my kids, all different woods to represent their characters. For the cherry one, I want to copy the look of another cherry project I’ve done in the past:

1. Sand to 320
2. Soak in BLO, wipe off excess
3. Leave in direct sun for 4-8 hours
4. Bring inside and let “cure” for a week
5. Finish with 3 coats of wipe-on poly.

Well, our baby is here already and these need to get done while I have time off of work, and I can’t afford step 4 anymore. So I skipped the BLO and “aged” the piece directly in the sun with no BLO, and it’s darkened up some. I think it’s ready for finish.

Is there a single product I can use that will add the heavy amber tone of BLO but have faster drying times – even recoat once per day would be fine. The first things that came to mind are waterlox top coat or simple Danish oil, but I’ve never used these products before. Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks.

8 replies so far

View KYtoolsmith's profile


74 posts in 187 days

#1 posted 02-17-2019 12:41 PM

My go-to, particularly for cherry, is Minwax Antique Oil. Wipe on, cure overnight, sand 320, repeat… It can be topped with wipe on poly, although I rarely do. It gives an amber tone and subtle gloss after about three thin coats.
Regards, The Kentucky Toolsmith!

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

View OSU55's profile


2206 posts in 2317 days

#2 posted 02-17-2019 12:43 PM

Target coatings em4000 stain base, its a wb oil emulsion. Dries in ~ 2 hrs. It is not a topcoat. Also dye can be mixed into poly to create your own colored wiping varnish. I use wd lockwood oil based dyes. Yellow and a touch of brown, or their dark walnut actually ages cherry well. You may find this interesting reading.

View bondogaposis's profile


5323 posts in 2678 days

#3 posted 02-17-2019 01:44 PM

Arm R Seal.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View TungOil's profile


1164 posts in 822 days

#4 posted 02-17-2019 11:53 PM

Waterlox Original looks great on cherry and adds quite a bit of Amber. Check out the sleigh bed in my projects for an example

-- 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"

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Gerald Thompson

1181 posts in 2562 days

#5 posted 02-18-2019 12:32 PM

+Waterlox Original.

-- Jerry

View jamsomito's profile


427 posts in 753 days

#6 posted 02-18-2019 01:00 PM

Thanks everyone for the thoughts. I feel very much inexperienced with dyes so while that approach may yield the closest match for what I’m going for, I fear it will take me more stock in trials than my finished piece. I’m not exactly sure where to buy minwax antique oil, and it looks like a little different beast than what I’m used to. Reviews online are flowing though, maybe I’ll have to keep this one in my back pocket for the future of I ever see a can on the shelf. I have Arm-R-Seal and really like it, but it just doesn’t have enough amber color for what I’m going for on this particular piece.

I think I’m going to give the waterlox a try. By waterlox original I’m assuming you mean the top coat, correct? It seems the closest to what I’m used to with a wipe on poly, gives an amber tone, and dries relatively quickly.

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Gerald Thompson

1181 posts in 2562 days

#7 posted 02-18-2019 01:15 PM

Here is a pic of a cradle my wife and I made. It is finished with four coats of Waterlox OSF. The finish was wiped on with 24 hrs between coats. It takes about 30 days to cure, I then used a crumpled up grocery bad to knock down any nibs. The gloss gradually diminishes over time. The cherry will also darken over time and the result is wonderful

-- Jerry

View jamsomito's profile


427 posts in 753 days

#8 posted 02-18-2019 03:35 PM

Guys I totally choked! I went to woodcraft and got a little overwhelmed at the options. Asked for help and had basically the same conclusion as all of you. Ended up sticking to what I knew and buying more Arm-R-Seal! I’m such a flake.

In the end, it was half the cost, and the cherry in the sun has already darkened up some, and will continue to darken more over time. So, I blew it.

Sincere thanks for the help though. I’ll keep all of this for next time.

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