Favorite furniture woods maple and cherry, both have a nice figure and are easy to machine. Cherry in particular has a wonderful fruity smell when cut. However when it comes to staining and finishing wood, Maple has a couple of advantages over cherry. Nicely figured maple is easier to find and less expensive, and since it has a similar grain pattern, properly stained maple is almost indistinguishable from cherry. That being said, both cherry and maple are notorious for being difficult to finish.
Cherry and maple do not stain evenly. Their highly prized figure results from end grain that rises to the face of the board in irregular patterns. Most finishers attempt to circumvent this by using pigment stains, but because end grain soaks up pigment much more rapidly than does face grain, the result is blotchy, uneven color.
Cherry has an additional finishing downside: even if you successfully achieve a uniform deep red color with stain, it will not last. Cherry darkens with age, stained cherry may eventually become too dark. The only way to achieve a true deep red cherry color without any chance of the wood becoming too dark is to let it darken naturally. This may take several years, however, and most of us are unwilling to wait that long. Your alternatives, then, are to stain it anyway and take your chances or use maple stained to look like cherry. Whichever you choose, the following finishing steps should give good results.
- Wood Preparation
- Choosing Dye Stains
- Raising the Grain
- The Right Color
- Mixing Dyes
- Final Application