How To Minimize Blotchyness In Cherry

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APPLYING WOOD STAIN prevent blotching

The most common and frustrating staining problem is blotching. Blotching is uneven coloring in woods that have uneven grain or grain that varies in density (Photo (>). There is no way to remove blotching except to sand, scrape, or plane below the depth the stain has penetrated. Slain can't be totally stripped out of the wood.

Blotching is most likely to he a problem with fir and pine, among the softwoods; and poplar, aspen, birch, and cherry, among the hardwoods. To prevent blotching, the stain has to be kept from penetrating unevenly. This is best accomplished by keeping all the stain very near the surface of the wood. There are two easy ways to do this.

• Use a gel stain to minimize deep penetration into the wood.

• Seal the pores first with a stain controller so the stain can't penetrate.

Gel Stains

Gel stains are commonly marketed »is easy to use, but this is not their real value in finishing. Their real value is reducing blotching. This can be both good and bad. Woods such as pine and cherry will blotch less with a gel stain. That is a good thing. However, gel stains don't flow into the wood's pores and fibers like liquid stains do. Thus, gel stains don't accentuate the wood's figure (or flaws) as much as liquid stains. This can In- a bad thing on woods such as mahogany and bird's-eye maple. With these species, you usually want deeper stain penetration to bring out the beautiful figure.

Wood Conditioners

Wood conditioners can be used before applying stain to keep the slain from penetrating unevenly. Most wood conditioners work by filling up the pores and less dense parts of wood so the stain can't penetrate ¿is far.

To get the best possible results from a wood conditioner, apply it liberally with a brush or rag until all parts of the wood stay wet. Keep applying more conditioner until no more of the liquid is absorl>ed into the wood. This usually takes continued applications for live to ten minutes. The number of applications varies with the type of wood and the ingredients used in the conditioner. This advice may be contrary to what the directions on the can sav. Many manufacturer do not explain that more than one application is usually necessary.

When no more dry spots appear on the wood, wipe off all the excess conditioner.


(iel stains can be more predictable. They produce consistent results because there are no variables, such as number of coats applied or elapsed time before the stain is applied. As always, it's best to experiment 011 some scrap before you decide what to use 011 the project.

7Wood conditioner or Gel stain help prevent blotching.

5 Stain soaked rags are a fire hazard. Unfold the rags and drape them over an sawhorse or the edge of a garbage can to air dry before disposal. Bunched up rags trap the heat given off as the oils in the stain cure and can result in a fire.

6Liquid stains penetrate deeper into areas of lower grain density causing ugly blotchiness in woods such as pine. Gel stains are so thick they won't penetrate as unevenly and tend to minimize blotchiness. On the other hand, gel stains don't highlight the beautiful grain in woods such as oak or bird's-eye maple like liq uid stains do.

Tips for



Oil it, spray it, shellac it, or glaze it. This is how to make cherry look great.

/n henry is gorgeous wood, but as you've probably i discovered, it can be nasty to finish. Cherry -A boards come in all different colors, the sapwood and heartwood don't match, it can look really blotchy and it darkens as it ages. Here are tips for choosing cherry lumber, gelling rich color and a uniform appearance.

Color Varies from Board to Board

To make finishing easier, choose boards ilial look the same. Some suppliers sell boards from the same tree together, to ensure a good match. Usually, though, you'll be on your own.

If you plan to use solid cherry along with cherry plywood, stand the solid cherry boards against the veneer in good, natural light, so you can compare die colors. Welting the surfaces with mineral spirits is a good way to get a true indication of color.

If you can't find enough boards of the same color for your entire project, group similar ones together for the various pans. Everyone will see dial single off-colored board in the lop, but no one will notice if one side of a cabinet is a slightly different color than the other.

Cherry Darkens Over Time

Cherry's color deepens from a pale pinkish-tan to a deep red-brown as a result of its exposure to air and light. The color change is so rapid at first that within hours, a partially covered board can develop a shadow line that can be hard ro sand out. It's important to keep freshly planed cherry boards either completely covered or completely exposed.

After die first couple of weeks, darkening becomes more gradual. Most finishes will slow cherry's color change, especially ones with UVblockers (check the label), but they don't stop it. At first, oil finishes (page 36) give cherry a deeper, richer appearance than traditional finishes such as shellac and lacquer. But after a year or so, they'll all look pretty much the same. Cherry doesn't darken as quickly under varnish and polyurediane finishes (page 37).

If you want to give cheriy a dark color right away, don't stain the raw wood. Stain colors cherry's pores and makes it look unnatural. Instead, seal ihe wood before you add color (page38).

Sapwood and Heartwood

The difference between cherry's white sapwood and rosy-Ian heartwood becomes more distinct over time. The heart-wood darkens, bur the sapwood doesn't. The best way to deal with sapwood is to cut it off, but it can be finished to

34 American Woodworker k w

Coloured Heartwood
blend with the heartwood (see "Coping with Cherry's Light-Colored Sapwood", page 39).

Thirsty Spots and Curly Figure

Most cherry boards contain extra-absorbent spots and pockets of curly figure. With both, finishing results in a mottled appearance. To some, this is part of cherry's inherent beauty: to others, it just looks blotchy. Before you choose a finish, check your boards for mottling by wiping them with mineral spirits.

Choosing a Finish

There are two types of finishes for sealing and protecting wood: those that dry to a hard film and those that don't.

Film-forming finishes can be applied by wiping, brushing or spraying. Each layer you apply builds the thickness of the film. Finishes made from drying oils soak into the wood's pores, but don't harden enough to form a surface film. They have to be wiped, because you can't leave any on the surface. On cherry, drying oil finishes emphasize a mottled appearance. Film-forming finishes, such as shellac, lacquer and polyurethane, minimize it. Polyurethane disguises motding and curly figure the best, but it gives cherry less depth than shellac or lacquer.

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  • johanna
    How to minimize grain in oak staining?
    9 years ago
  • wolfgang
    How to minimize blotchyness in cherry?
    2 years ago
  • Jessika Kuhn
    How to prevent blotching when staining cherry?
    2 years ago

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