Dying Maple to a Cherry Finish

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Blog entry by Chris Davis posted 09-21-2009 02:38 PM 10666 reads 6 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Today I’ll be staining some maple. The customer want a cherry finish. Not a new cherry wood look, but the old antique look with years patina. More like the stuff you’d find on the a showroom floor call “cherry finish”. As most of you know, maple doesn’t absorb stain very good, so to achieve a dark, rich finish is impossible with stain only.

Several years ago, I standardize this finish for my customers and make to sample piece with the steps that need to be taken. This way I can reproduce it each time a customer request it.

To get the dark color on the maple, you must dye the wood. I use universal dyes from Sherwin Williams. This stuff is very concentrated so a little goes a long way. I use both the red and the brown dye. To get it on the wood I spray it in a thinned down state.
1 part red
2 parts Brown
140 parts thinner.

When sprayed the thinner will be flash off in just a few seconds and the dye is left ready for the next step.

I follow up with a wiping stain. because of how fast it is, a lot of production furniture companies use this as their only means of staining the wood. I follow up the dye with a wiping stain. This pops the grain and gives it depth. On this color I use a Red Mahogany by Minwax. I spray my stains and with it back off.

It is then follow by a couple coats of pre-catalyzed lacquer. If some tweaking is still needed on the color the same dye can be used as a toner. Todd Clippinger has a good post on using toners

Here is a picture of my sample board:
sample dye and stain board

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2 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5312 days

#1 posted 09-21-2009 04:06 PM

Chris, this looks like a pretty good match for “aged” cherry. I have usually had trouble getting a consistent color when applying dye or stain to maple. With these results I may have to take a look at this approach.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5590 days

#2 posted 09-21-2009 04:13 PM

I just came over to see how the pro’s use dye and stains.

Why – you do it just like me so I must be getting it right! And you use the same products too!

Thanks for the mention. I look forward to seeing the final project.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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