Dark, Rich Cherry Finish with Household Products
Drain cleaner, roofing tar, and shellac team up for a foolproof finish
Synopsis: Tim Puro will stack his favorite cherry finish up against all kinds of fancy finish recipes. It is accomplished in three steps, with three common products: 100% lye drain cleaner mixed with distilled water, non-fibered roofing tar mixed with mineral spirits, and SealCoat dewaxed shellac right out of the can.
Students often ask me to name my favorite cherry finish. I tell them that there’s nothing wrong with using a clear, oil-based finish on this popular hardwood, but I know another finish that imparts deep, rich color and more depth. Better yet, it consists of common products, all available from the local hardware store or home center: lye (in the form of drain cleaner), asphaltum (from roofing tar), and SealCoat shellac.
These inexpensive products darken cherry and highlight the grain in a way that no dye, stain, or oil can on its own, creating depth and color that attracts attention from across the room. And the shellac makes it durable enough to use on almost any piece of furniture.Brush it on. A foam brush works well here, too. Work in the direction of the grain. You can unload the brush on a paper towel as you adjust the look, but leave enough glaze on the wood to have an effect.
The lye reacts with the cherry to create rich color without blotching, and brings out beautiful yellow and orange figured grain lines in the wood. It makes good cherry look great and figured cherry look spectacular. Shellac seals in the first step and lets you then use diluted tar as a glaze, adding more warmth and getting into nooks and crannies to create a subtle aged effect. Used over shellac, the tar glaze is reversible, meaning you can wipe it off if you don’t like the look. The…