Staining Cherry

I don't usually stain cherry. It may be a pale pink or salmon when you're working with it But as cherry is exposed to light, the wood darkens naturally to a rich reddish-brown. (This takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months depending on how much sunlight it gets.)

With the Shaker Bench, I wanted to speed up the aging process so the contrast between the two woods could be seen right away. And staining also evens -

out any differences in the cherry between the lighter sapwood and the darker heart wood.

j»tain probijems. One problem with staining cherry is that there aren't many stains available that look like naturally-aged cherry. They're either too red or too dark.

Another problem with staining cherry is that it can end up with dark blotches. But the problem really isn't the stain. It's the grain.

The grain in cherry can be wavy. As the wavy grain turns up towards the surface of the board, it becomes end grain. This can result in a beautiful, highly-figured work-piece. But when stained, this figured grain often looks like blotches. That's because end grain soaks up stain like a sponge — becoming darker than the wood around it.

gel stains. So how do you solve these problems? Gel stains are one solution. They're thicker than other stains (about the consistency of pudding). This means the end grain can't soak it up as quickly. The stain doesn't penetrate the wood as deeply, but it penetrates more evenly. The result is a consistent color and less blotching.

acrylic wood stain. After testing several gel stains, I found one I liked: Liquitex Acrylic Wood Stain (see next page). It's a transparent stain that's water-based and

non-toxic. This stain had the best "aged" cherry color of any stain I've seen. And it left the grain both clear and consistent.

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