Mismatched Cherry Question

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Forum topic by Woody715 posted 04-21-2020 10:18 PM 552 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 74 days

04-21-2020 10:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry

Hello All, I’m working on a table made of mostly cherry. I have the base done and have just enough 6/4 cherry left for the table top. I have 5 boards right now. One of the five is significantly darker than the rest. I know cherry ages quickly but do you think this is too different in color to match together?

I was hoping to just use poly for the finish.

I could run to the lumber yard but everything is closed near me and I’m about an hour from the closest lumber yard when the stores open back up.

Thanks for any suggestions.

25 replies so far

View shampeon's profile


2107 posts in 2953 days

#1 posted 04-21-2020 10:35 PM

Pictures would help tremendously here.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View SMP's profile


2102 posts in 675 days

#2 posted 04-21-2020 10:53 PM

Has it been left out in the sun or gotten more direct sunlight than the other pieces(like top of the pile near window)?

View DS's profile


3501 posts in 3190 days

#3 posted 04-21-2020 11:05 PM

If you are surfacing the planks, they will lighten up again. (If it is just sunburn)

It does take a couple of months to darken Cherry naturally.

Sometimes, though you gotta ditch the oddball board rather than have an unsatisfactory result.
my 2 cents

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View ChefHDAN's profile


1639 posts in 3619 days

#4 posted 04-22-2020 12:51 PM

If you have surfaced all of the boards and there are significant differences in the colors, they will always have different colors, it’s one of the complexities of working with cherry and the reason that many commercial producers use a cherry stain on their furniture. Cherry will darken over time, but it is not a quick process, generally full color happens over years to get to the true deep hue of the wood. Take a look at this table in my projects The last pic is 4 years later and you can see the color variation of the piece, finish is Poly over BLO

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

View EarlS's profile


3730 posts in 3118 days

#5 posted 04-22-2020 01:22 PM

+1 ChefHDAN – I use Watco Cherry as a sealer coat – just make sure you wipe it dry and give it at least 3 -4 days to dry before putting poly on top of it.

Personally, I don’t mid some variation in color, as long as it isn’t the white sap wood. Cherry stain just makes it look pink and splotchy.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Robert's profile


3738 posts in 2250 days

#6 posted 04-22-2020 02:22 PM

You could try dying the other 4.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View splintergroup's profile


3774 posts in 1992 days

#7 posted 04-22-2020 02:27 PM

My experience is if they are not all from the same tree, the colors will never quite match up. With fresh cut surfaces, many of the lighter ones will not change much with exposure, the darker, more red, cuts tend to respond more.

Best bet is to cut samples and leave them in the sun for a week, then try your finish and compare. I’ve found that oil will tend to blend different shades fairly well, but the only true fix is using toners.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3156 posts in 2264 days

#8 posted 04-22-2020 04:32 PM

Cherry color variation is quagmire. If all the lumber is milled at same time and you have different colors, they will always be different color. Here in Arizona, couple days in summer sunshine and they look like 12 months aging in house.
If I am gluing up a panel and see lots of variation, use Belhlen’s Solar Lux/Mohawk Cherry Ultra Penetrating Dye stain (same thing) diluted 50% as toner. Posted one cherry project where I detail a finishing process to help accelerate cherry aging, if you want to see an example.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Andre's profile


3556 posts in 2576 days

#9 posted 04-22-2020 04:42 PM

Sometimes a little variety is nice, if the boards are all marching grain not so much, the whole purpose of building with “real” wood is the imperfections? You could always paint it if you desire perfect colour match:)

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6233 posts in 3263 days

#10 posted 04-22-2020 04:49 PM

I wouldn’t worry about it, that’s part of the appeal of cherry (to me). Chasing color matching is just an exercise in futility…unless you resort to artificial colors.

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

View pintodeluxe's profile


6150 posts in 3583 days

#11 posted 04-22-2020 04:57 PM

If it made you stop in your tracks and go post a forum topic… You’ve answered your own question. It bugs you. It will always bug you.

Cry once and get a replacement board. Period.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View sras's profile


5455 posts in 3899 days

#12 posted 04-22-2020 05:11 PM

I have to agree with Willie – I have cherry projects that have darkened enough to where the variation has been greatly reduced, but it took more than 20 years. I like the variation and watching it change over time.

But if it distracts you get another board (or 5). Save the leftover for another project.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View therealSteveN's profile


5746 posts in 1344 days

#13 posted 04-22-2020 05:43 PM

+ 2 on ChefHDan

+1 on Splint

Plus it’s not just Cherry, wood in general has differences in a tree to tree comparison just as Humans have differences. Even identical twins can tell you any number of differences they have, sometimes you would never see it yourself, this is just Nature at work.

A lot of same same, but always different.

This is the one biggest issues to going to the wood store to buy wood, rather than having a guy who takes down trees, and buying an entire tree, or at least enough of it to do your project. What you will find time and again, is the wood store dood will have Cherry from at least 5 or maybe 10 orders of Cherry intermingled in one stack of Cherry, and when you are picking you have to hope for at least the boards for your top, to somewhat match, not just color, but grain, and how they are sawn. Though usually QS wood would be in a pricier section, there is no guarantee of this.

I’ve always thought there is as much art in picking wood, as there is in design, and implementation of the project itself. This is also why you time and again see fabulous projects from the same folks. They are not just great woodworkers, they also are awesome pickers, and matchers.

-- Think safe, be safe

View WoodenDreams's profile


1066 posts in 681 days

#14 posted 04-22-2020 10:29 PM

I’d use the boards you have. Just align them to what’s most visually appeally to you. After you add the stain and finish, You’ll most likely be pleased with the end result.

View Phil32's profile


1067 posts in 673 days

#15 posted 04-22-2020 11:10 PM

If it’s one board out of five (as you stated), put that board in the middle of the 5-board glue up.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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