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I am making a small shelf out of poplar. I'd like to finish it to look like cherry -- a light red-brown, not the ultra dark color of old furniture.
I have not decided what finish I will use, but I'd like to experiment with something other than varnish/polyurethane. The shelf will be very lightly used -- it's to hold scarves and gloves, nothing heavy or abrasive.
It seems to me that the options would be an aniline dye followed by a finish or perhaps one of the colored Watco oils.
I'd appreciate any suggestions. I'm just getting started with woodworking, and this will be my first attempt to finish something with other than a coat of polyurethane. I thought I'd experiment on this shelf as it will be mostly hidden in a closet when I'm done -- that leaves lots of room for error.
I'd appreciate any suggestions.