Opinions needed

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Bob Chambers 1 week, 5 days ago.

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  • #5035

    Kesh Ikuma
    Participant

    Hi guys,

    I’m in the middle of building a desk drawer module (an expansion module to the desk that I built a couple years back) and this one has been a rough going (crazy amount of mistakes and mishandling already…). Anyway, I just dry-fitted the carcass and now have to make some decisions before moving on. I’d love to hear your opinions or advice on these points below. TIA! -Kesh

    * Yes, I dropped the $*&# board and the mitered edge chipped off (see the photo). I lost about 1/16″ thick worth material there. Any recommendations/ideas to repair this? Chucking it and milling another board is out (no spare cherry left in shop).

    * Ship-lapped back. The drawers are 13″ wide, and we are at the height of dryness. I gave it a little shy of 1/4″ gap total to spare for the summer. Would that be enough? Online wood movement calculator gave me +0.2″ going from 8% to 12% but I took a wild guess at these numbers.

    * Epoxy-filling cracks and knots. Cracks are everywhere, and I allowed myself to use a board with a biggle knot hole for one of the back boards. I’ll be epoxy filling them, but should I color it? If so, what would be a good shade?

    * Color matching. Since the material (cherry) came from 3 different sources, they all have different colors. My hope is that the contrast subsides as it ages (right now, they are disturbingly different in some places). Does anybody have any insight as to how less pronounced the difference will be? Should I (aniline) dye the boards to mesh the color better? If so, should I be concerned about it wiping out the figure? Any input would be appreciate it.

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    #5047

    Bob Chambers
    Participant

    Dye will not hide the figuring. I would put the lighter boards in the sun for a couple of days to see if they darken closer to the darker ones.

    #5048

    Kesh Ikuma
    Participant

    @bob – Thanks for the info! I’ll put the boards out in the sun and see what happens. Also, if I chose to dye, any experience with with particular “cherry” color that you liked?

    #5049

    Bob Chambers
    Participant

    First of all I have no practical experience with dyes, but in this case I’m not sure that’s even relevant because I wouldn’t go that route. The problem is that cherry is one of those woods like pine that’s very prone to blotching, even with just a clear film finish and no dye or stain beforehand. It’s pretty important to try to match your wood so that it all behaves the same, but that’s just info for future use – you don’t have that option.

    There are a couple of ways to color cherry if you must, but you’re not going to get the rust red appearance of naturally aged cherry no matter what you do. You can get an approximation of how badly the wood will blotch by just wetting it with mineral spirits. It’s not perfect, but you should be able to see if there’s going to be a problem.

    You might be tempted to use a pre-stain conditioner or a wash coat of sealer and conventional stains or dye stains, but these can all cause blotching before you even put on the stain.

    Ok, the couple of ways I mentioned… Using a cherry gel stain helps with the blotching problem because it sits more on top of the wood rather than getting too deep into the fibers. That means that you won’t get great penetration, but that may be ok.

    Another way is to use a toner, which is just a colorant added to the finish itself. This really needs to be sprayed, and you may not have the ability to do that. If you don’t spray you might end up with streaks because of minute differences in film thickness.

    Keep in mind that cherry will darken with age, and if it’s already artificially darkened with anything then after a few years you may find that it’s now too dark.

    You didn’t mention the finish you intend to use, but if you can tolerate a satin finish then a gel varnish would be a great choice because it causes less blotching than other finishes.

    So here’s the bottom line. I would not use dye on this project. My choice would be to put the boards in the sun or under a UV lamp for several days, then if you still have an issue and feel like you need to get closer to an aged wood look use a cherry gel stain.

    #5059

    Kesh Ikuma
    Participant

    I haven’t decided on the top coat although I’ll likely use (satin) wipe-on poly which I used for the main body of the desk. I’ll definitely try the sun exposure first (doesn’t sound like it’ll start this weekend though 🙁 ) and I’ll skip staining/dying and hedge on the natural darkening to mellow the differences over time.

    Actually, one other possibility though. How about putting down a coat of danish oil before poly top-coat? I wonder if the darker tone of the oil will suppress the contrast.

    #5060

    Bob Chambers
    Participant

    Don’t just pick up a can of something labeled “Danish Oil”. That means absolutely nothing. It can be linseed oil, and oil/varnish mix, or whatever the manufacturer chooses to put in it.

    Pre-polymerized linseed oil is what you want, and yes, it will slightly darken the wood. The brand that I use is Tried and True Danish Oil, which is 100% pure pre-polymerized linseed oil with no varnish or additives. Great stuff. As I mentioned earlier anything you put on cherry may cause some blotching, even oil, so that’s a chance you’ll take.

    It will take several coats, waiting 24 hours between coats. Be absolutely sure you follow the instructions and wipe off ALL the excess oil. Don’t attempt to build up any film depth. Wait a week after your last coat before you apply any varnish, which will go over it fine.

    #5061

    Kesh Ikuma
    Participant

    Cool, I may very well give it (T&T oil) a try. I should be able to find a cutoff or two around shop floor to try it. Thank you so much for your great input as usual!!

    Kesh

    #5062

    Bob Chambers
    Participant

    One final thought on this… If you elect to use a gel stain you will have to stain everything. You might be able to darken some of the lighter boards this way but they will be a different color from everything else. Pretty sure you already realized this.

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