Stain - Dark Cherry Color for Pine?

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Forum topic by Adamal posted 03-06-2021 05:55 PM 395 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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63 posts in 3056 days

03-06-2021 05:55 PM

Hi all, I’ve built some honeycomb shelves for my daughter out of Pine and she wants them to match her existing furniture which is pretty standard dark cherry.

I’ve tried several different stains, but nothing comes close. Red Mahogany – nope, Gunstock – nope, Early American – nope. I even tried mixing them.

I’d like to try General Finishes Georgian Cherry, but for a pint at almost $22 plus shipping, it seems a bit much when I don’t know if it will even work.

Does Pine just not want to look like dark cherry? Any recommendations?


10 replies so far

View Kelly's profile


3498 posts in 4000 days

#1 posted 03-14-2021 08:42 PM

Years ago, my postman asked me to make him a coffee table, which was to match his existing pine furniture. I farmed out the lathe work because I didn’t have one and had never even touched one.

A fellow worker dabbled in turning, so that part went well. The hard part was, like your project, the stain. I assumed, for my project, they used a finish with stain in it to get the consistent, VERY dark finish.

The Net wouldn’t be around for a few more decades, so, from the beginning, Al Gore was no help at all, leaving me to ad lib. I wasn’t set up for spray, so I, first, dyed the wood, then stained it. The combo got me to the point of a match with which everyone was happy.

On cherry, if it were actual cherry, and you matched it, the natural tendency of cherry to darken from light exposure would take it beyond that initial, perfect match. Not so the pine.

View LesB's profile


2956 posts in 4499 days

#2 posted 03-14-2021 09:12 PM

Staining pine is difficult. Most of the time you need to precondition it with a sealer. The most common one is a de-waxed (clear) shellac at a 2# cut (Zinsser’s makes one called Seal Coat). It may take two coats. This helps control the absorption of the stain so you get a more even coverage.
The other way to do this is without stain. Seal the wood as I said above and then add a color to the top coat that matches the final finish you want. That may take a couple of coats.

Of course the best solution is to rebuild them of real cherry wood. But even with that I often add a cherry colored stain (of Watco oil) to even it out until it finally darkens to the natural cherry over time.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Bob Gnann's profile

Bob Gnann

58 posts in 728 days

#3 posted 03-15-2021 01:45 AM

You might try using a water based dye. But you’ll probably have to try different mixes, colors, etc. Trying to make a soft wood (pine) match up with a hardwood color is going to be really tough. Trial and error.
Keep in mind too that real cheery darkens as its ages and is exposed to natural light. I built a set of end tables and coffee table 15 years ago. The lighter tones have darkened and all the wood is now consistently dark red. Beautiful reddish colors and grain throughout.
Agree with above you might consider making them out of real cherry. It’s a beautiful wood to work with.

-- Bob Gnann

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


6936 posts in 2443 days

#4 posted 03-15-2021 02:04 AM

One thing that I have done is use GF water based stains and then add Transtint dyes to tweak the color. For example, I started with the GF black cherry stain but it was a little too red so by adding a few drops of dark walnut Transtint dye, I was able to get the color I was looking for. I use a small jar to mix small batches. I put a few ounces of the stain and then add several drops of the dye at a time until I like the color, testing it on a scrap. I then mark the jar with the recipe in case I run out or want to make another batch.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View gdaveg's profile


107 posts in 258 days

#5 posted 03-15-2021 02:30 AM

Yep, staining wood sometimes makes a person crazy. It either penetrates too much, gets blotchy or not enough penetration to get the color you are seeking.

My attempts have been mixed and never exactly what I was envisioning.

A fellow wood working friend has samples of the typical woods he uses, oak, maple and cherry with different Minwax stains and notes on each sample. His staining jobs come out nice.

-- Dave, Vancouver, WA

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3819 posts in 4494 days

#6 posted 03-15-2021 02:43 AM

Pine, spruce, most conifers are blotchy when stained. Sometimes you can manage to find some very straight grained stuff but that’s not common. On most of my woods I try to do natural. On pine I always do. But to tell the truth. Here in Maine you can’t turn around and walk 5 ft without running into a hundred foot pine tree. Interestingly it’s not used much in finish woodworking. We used to be able to get it cheap. No longer though. It’s great for framing up the carcasses of cabinets and such. It works well and doesn’t split.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Kelly's profile


3498 posts in 4000 days

#7 posted 03-15-2021 04:21 AM

Keep in mind, dying is not, in any way, the same as staining, which is why I’ve used both on the same project.

Dye soaks in, while stain is a surface coat kind of thing. Any penetration is limited to the surface pores.

View Kelly's profile


3498 posts in 4000 days

#8 posted 03-15-2021 04:23 AM

I have blocks of ply and what because I forget which of the thirty or so cans does what.

[A] fellow wood working friend has samples of the typical woods he uses, oak, maple and cherry with different Minwax stains and notes on each sample. His staining jobs come out nice.

- gdaveg

View BurlyBob's profile


8730 posts in 3321 days

#9 posted 03-15-2021 06:06 AM

I hate to tell you but trying to stain pine is a PITA of the highest order. My suggestion is use alder, You’ll get much better stain results and it will take a finish much better.

View tvrgeek's profile


1769 posts in 2705 days

#10 posted 03-15-2021 10:55 AM

Agree with all of the above. I would try sealer and then spray. No wiping it off. I have tinted varnish to some success.

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