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Staining birch/maple to look like cherry

Scavenger's picture

I'm planning on building a cabinet made of cherry.  I was planning on using 3/4" cherry plywood until I saw the price.  A friend said he had recently read an article (maybe in FWW) that said you can stain birch or maple (he couldn't remember which is was) to closely resemble cherry.  I've searched recent FWW back issues for the article but can't find it.


Does anyone know where the article was printed?  Better yet, does anyone have an opinion on what plywood/stain combination to best imitate cherry?


Thanks.

jimdolan's picture

(post #107631, reply #1 of 8)

I have a personal index of almost all the FWW articles and I searched it but no luck. There are a number of articles on shading, toning and dyeing but nothing on staining specificaly to imitate cherry.
If you can find a ply that is close to the cherry grain pattern, try a piece using "trans-tints" an alcohol or water based dye, or visit Lockwood.com for a beautiflul selection of dyes and stains. Actually, if you stain the ply a lighter color than the final effect you wish, you can seal it and then spray on a topcoat of tinted lacquer or other finish, adding a little color with each application until you get the right shade, then a clearcoat and home. The problem may be to find a ply with a cherry-type of grain. An alternate way would be to use a less expensive ply and to veneer in cherry for the perfect match. Incidently, you can darken lighter pieces of cherry by exposing them to the sun after final sanding. The sun will give them an aged look and this is a way to match individual pieces before glue-up if there is a color variation.
Good Luck!

Ardito's picture

(post #107631, reply #2 of 8)

I have had GREAT success with making Maple look like Cherry with the Transtint dye's.  Try it on scrap first.


Either try the "Brown Mahogany" or the "Reddish Mahogany" Transtints. 


I like to dye, then wipe a very THIN coat of Boiled Linseed oil, then Shellac to seal it up, then my top coat of choice.


You can get the Transtints at WoodCraft or from Jeff Jewitt directly at Homestead Finishing.  http://www.homesteadfinishing.com


Cheers!
Dark


 

Pondfish's picture

(post #107631, reply #3 of 8)

I've had good luck using Watco Cherry Danish oil.  In my experience, just 2-3 coats was sufficient to color the birch, and a few subsequent coats with natural made it shine well.

Recommending the use of "Hide Signatures" option under "My Preferences" since 2005
forestgirl's picture

(post #107631, reply #4 of 8)

Paul, are you referring to birch ply (as scavenger is going to use) or solid birch?  It would seem birch ply would be a bear to use an oil finish on.

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-)
Another proud member of the  "I Rocked With ToolDoc Club" .... :>) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

Pondfish's picture

(post #107631, reply #5 of 8)

Birch ply.  It was the back of a cherry/canarywood dresser, and I wanted to darken it.  Oil wasn't the greatest finish for it, but it came out OK.  Perhaps because I usually do a wet sand on the 2nd and 3rd coats when applying oil to fill the pores and smooth it out.

Recommending the use of "Hide Signatures" option under "My Preferences" since 2005
forestgirl's picture

(post #107631, reply #6 of 8)

I like the wet-sanding approach too, though I've never tried it on plywood.  My only experience with birch ply and a Danish Oil finish was, simply said, a disaster!


I'm still curious why you don't wet-sand the 1st coat -- feel like I must be missing something here.


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-)
Another proud member of the  "I Rocked With ToolDoc Club" .... :>) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

Pondfish's picture

(post #107631, reply #7 of 8)

I don't sand the first coat because I want the oil to soak into the raw wood.   I have the feeling (but not the knowledge!) that sanding would interfere some with this.


The second and sometimes thrid coat get wet sanded and wiped off (diagonal to the grain).  If the pores still are not filled, I'll wet sand another coat and not wipe it off completely.  After a couple of days, I dry sand the piece (this is a mess), follwed by another wet sand, and a few more coats (one per day).


The messy dry sand step will fill even the most tenacious of pores and dinks in the wood.  It is work and a filler might be easier, but using the oil/varnish/wood dust slurry means you get an exact match when filling.


That's the way I do it, perhaps because I don't know another way!


P


 

Recommending the use of "Hide Signatures" option under "My Preferences" since 2005
DONC4's picture

(post #107631, reply #8 of 8)

I recently bought some unfinished Beech steam bent chairs. I tried to mix to Cherry with several powders and liquid I had in stock at the shop. I then borrowed several pre-mixed containers from a wood club pal. To my surprise, plain ol" Ace Hardware oil based stain was the best. You can buy a "test" can in 1/2 pint if you would like to give it a try. Maybe it will work on Birch as well as it did on my Beech chairs.