Furniture Finishing & Restoration
Cherry is a beautiful wood! It has an impressive look of depth where the subtle shades and hues of color seem to originate from deep within. Although the heartwood is a "salmon" pink with streaks of multiple colors running in it when freshly planed, cherry ages to dark color with reddish brown tones and strong orange/yellow undertones. The sapwood is almost white when fresh and ages to a "toasted" brown color. I've seen pieces where the sapwood was strategically placed during construction to provide a natural contrast of color accentuating shapes and/or features or simply to add visual interest to the design.
The biggest concern when finishing cherry is that it's very prone to blotching. Just using an oil-base finish like varnish, Danish Oil, or linseed oil causes a blotchy or mottled appearance that some folks don't like (it's a matter of taste or preference). And most stains and dyes will cause blotching, though there are some stains that work well. I haven't included any samples, but good gel stains like Bartley or WoodKote are often recommended. Even with a good gel stain, you may like the results better if you first partially seal the wood with a washcoat.
Though some people are very rigid in insisting cherry can only be finished with a "natural" finish, I have found a number of finishes that work wonderfully on the wood. Some of the finishes are designed to accentuate the grain, some the figure, some both the grain and figure, and some to produce the "high end" look that is very desirable among most paying customers. Like most people that work with cherry, I have my personal favorites and have included them in the numerous options.
Browse through the pictures and descriptions of the samples in the pages that follow to find the finish(es) that look good to you and fit your finishing skills. A couple of the samples are finishes that are often recommended on woodworking forums (e.g., the linseed oil & shellac finish from Jeff Jewitt's book "Great Wood Finishes") so I included samples to show what they look like. Some of the finishes are best done using spray equipment (e.g., finishes with color in the clear coats - called a toner), but many can be done using hand-applied methods.
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