Darkening Cherry Cabinets

CEFreemanMay 8, 2014

Hi all!
Well, the unexpected has happened and I've been gifted with two, brand new, unfinished cherry cabinets. They are lovely.

I have already stripped & bleached several reuse center cherry cabs and absolutely love the chocolate brown and cream of them. They're really gorgeous.

Now, I've heard cherry darkens pretty quickly. I know I'll never match my old cabinets, but to ah... "help" the new cabinets darken, is there a suggested method? Full sun? humidity? lack thereof? I have absolutely no intention of staining them. I realize it might just be time and nature, and that's ok.

But I thought I'd ask.

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the first 70-80% of change happens pretty quickly in direct sunlight (a few days), cherry keeps changing for decades after that, one of the things I love about it. Never noticed an effect of humidity.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:49AM
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DH just puts his cherry bowls out in the sun, either on a table in front of a bright window in questionable weather or outside in the sun in good weather. We have found variation in darkening speed and in ultimate color based on individual trees.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:04AM
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Stain with lye, Gets them to the ultimate darkness instantly. It simulates the natural process, no stain or pigment to cloud the grain.
Here's a thread from '09:

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:04AM
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Ok! That's good to hear.
I am going to set them in the window until I have time to hang them. OK, Ms Lazy admits: until I make time to hang them. Thanks for the input, all!

I've never wanted a wood kitchen. I've always loved painted cabinets. Until I stripped these antique Cherry ones down. "Antique" is 1992 or so. so I guess they're just old! Anyway, the chocolate and cream colors they've become are mesmerizing.

Casey, "stain" with lye? Just paint it on? I'll go read that thread, but this one is a new one to me. I've bleached wood now, with Clorox and Oxcylic acid. As a matter of fact, to get the red out of these antiquey ones, I used many applications of Clorox. Lye is a new one to me. Does it darken as much as vinegar does to pine or maple?

Off to read.

This post was edited by CEFreeman on Fri, May 9, 14 at 10:14

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:05AM
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Casey, reading everything my searching fingers will find, I keep reading that lye will bring out the red in the cherry. I've gone to a heck of a lot of trouble to get the red out of my old cabinets. Several applications of Citristrip sucked a lot of red stain out of the, and a month of beaching them has brought them to this chocolate brown.

Are you thinking I will need to lye them, turning them reddish, then bleach them? If anything, I want to avoid the red. I've got my new cabinets sitting in the window, so if the sun ever shines, the process will begin...

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 11:01AM
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I misunderstood; I read "help the new cherry darken" and I was off to the races.
I guess to get them all to match, subject them to the same process at the same time. If the previous ones have 2 months of sunburn, sit them in the dark until the next batch catches up.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:15PM
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Well, thank you, but you're still at the races.

My existing cabinets are from the early 90s. I've stripped them, using a couple of Citristrip coats to get the stain out of the wood, then repeatedly bleached them. As I mentioned above. I love their chocolate color.

The NEW cabinets I would like to darken, but not to red. What color does the lye make the cabinets? Red or brown. Or, would I need to darken them to red, then bleach them back out to get near the wonderful brown and cream of my old cabinets?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:30PM
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Cherry will darken to a red color, not sure how the older ones got chocolate brown, unless it is not really cherry wood. A picture would be good, so we can see what you have.

Brazilian Cherry is brown, so it could be that.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:45PM
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Well, it's definitely cherry, so perhaps Brazilian.
I only have a cell phone, which is so the pictures are cloudy.
I'm very happy with my older cabinets. I've got the two new ones sitting in the sun by my patio doors.

Interestingly, I had some maple I'd grayed with the steel wool and vinegar mix. Gorgeous color. I was fooling around with some God-awful Cherry gel stain. Brick red isn't my color. However, putting it on that maple and IMMEDIATELY wiping it off, caused the maple to coordinate really well with the old cherry cabinets.

Go figure.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:54PM
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Guys, my new cabinets have been sitting in the sun for a week or two now, they're darkening beautifully.

Do I understand correctly that they'll continue to darken under their finish/sealer? If so, I'll put them up. I love how they're coming out.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 2:05PM
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If your finish has UV blockers in it (most do) the darkening will be slowed, but will continue. I have pieces I made nearly 30 years ago that continue to change, albeit quite subtly.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 8:43AM
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