Cherry is an extremely popular wood among woodworkers and among people who just like nice looking furniture and cabinets. Unfortunately, cherry lumber straight from the lumber yard lacks the beautiful, deep reddish-brown color that it’s famous for. Instead, when it’s “fresh,” cherry has an almost salmon tone that looks anemic to most eyes. It only darkens with age.
As you might expect, many woodworkers don’t want to sit around and wait for their cherry stock to darken naturally; they want to know how they can speed up the process. Below, Rob Johnstone and Michael Dresdner consider one of the more inventive methods for darkening cherry the fast way.
Q. Ok this might sound dumb, but can you use a tanning bed to darken cherry? It’s late so be kind if I’m having brain drain.
A. Rob Johnstone :“I haven’t a clue - but yes, it sure sounds dumb!”
A. Michael Dresdner: “Yes — you can also use your old black lights from those halcyon days of Day-Glo posters. Better yet, if you know someone who is using UV cured finishes, the chamber will quickly deepen cherry.”
From the Woodworker’s Journal eZine 2002 archives
Another easy way to solve the pale cherry problem is to give the wood a light coat of cherry wood stain before applying the final clear finish. Variations of this method have been a favorite of the commercial cabinet and furniture industry for years.
If you choose this solution, use a high quality wood stain and consider using a pre-stain conditioner beforehand. Untreated cherry tends to stain-up a little blotchy. The conditioner will help even out the stain’s appearance. It will also inhibit absorption of the stain somewhat and help you keep from blotting out any of the often striking grain pattern of the wood.