Rail & Stile Doors
I am making some doors from wood I have on hand and was wondering if anyone has done rail & stile doors with panels of a different species. I have cherry wood for the rail & stile, but do not have enough to make raised panels. I cannot obtain cherry plywood locally, so I am considering birch, which I will stain. I have little experience with stain, as I generally choose the wood species to get the effect I want. I really like natural wood. I am concerned about getting a decent match, both color and wood grain and also considering the fact that the cherry will darken over time, but the stained panel (I am guessing) will remain the same color throughout its life. Any input would be appreciated.
Here is a resource to help you with your design decision:
FWW #211–Mar/April 2010 Issue Garrett Hack "The Right Way to Use Contrast Make your furniture stand out by combining different grain, figure, and colors. Just don’t overdo it."
I generally do not to use stains in my finish. I'd tend to use "clear" finishes that bring out the natural beauty in the wood. Some of the finishes that I use also have a slight natural "tint".
I've read that birch does not absorb stain evenly, but I have no direct experience. Natural cherry changes color gradually darkening over time due to UV exposure. As you have pointed out staining the birch to try to match the cherry color will be a moving target.
Thank you for the question. Good luck and have fun with your project.
P.S. There are helpful articles in FWW to finish cherry to avoid "blotching" in the finishing process.
Off the shelf maybe a particular type of plywood may not be present but a good lumberyard should be able to order it for you. A lumberyard that services cabinet makers for example. There are companies that will ship to you directly as well. I'd get in touch with a local cabinet maker and find out who his supplier is. People running specialty shops know how to source their materials. Sometimes getting a small order is hard to do ,you might be able to get a cabinet shop to order what you want for you with their regular order. Then you spiff them a little for their trouble.
You might find though that actual cherry lumber vs the cost of plywood wouldn't be prohibitively different.
Assuming that your able to create a good color match with your staining I think your correct in that that will change over time. How much will depend on how these doors are located in regards to light.. Your first attempt at staining cherry stain over birch will probably come out looking like carrot-- then you get to play. Matching finishes can be daunting. You need a whole chemistry set!
My approach to a problem like that is, if I can't make it look the same then just make it look different. Cherry frame and panels made of something else.
Thanks for the feedback. Looking at Garret's article, I think natural red oak panels with cherry framing would put it in the "overdo" category. I too tend toward natural finish. In fact, I have rarely used stain, except with a couple of pine projects. As far as the blotchiness, I have found that using a prestain treatment like the one from Minwax does a very good job at yielding an even finish.
I have a lot of experience working with cherry, so I am hesitant to mess it up. It is my favorite. I have some extra cherry that could be used for raised panels, just not enough. After viewing your feedback I am thinking I could edge join red oak and cherry in an alternating pattern. I have plenty of that to do it and it would provide some level of contrast while still blending.
Cherry is also one of my favorite woods. It is easy to work, beautiful when finished and gets better over time.
Garrett writes in the article: "CHERRY, WHITE ASH: White ash has a strong grain that remains prominent even as the wood darkens over time. That makes for a jarring combination with cherry’s subtler grain. Red oak also has prominent grain and tends to overpower some woods." So although the redish hues of the Cherry and Red Oak may be complementary over time think about the Grain Pattern contrast.
To my eye, the Cherry frames works well with the Maple panels.
I think that Pantalones also makes a good point that the cost of Cherry hardwood might not be much more that hardwood plywood at today's prices. My rough guestimate is a good quality hardwood plywood is probably $4 to $5 per equivalent board foot. I've seen online prices for Cherry around that price.
P.S. If you already own the woods - look for a few scraps in your pile, mill up a sample and put a finish on it and then decide.
I am not sure I would pair cherry and red oak, both are similar tones at least at first but oak is open pored and cherry is tight grained the different textures alone would make for a very disconcerting panel not to mention grain and color. I would definitely pair cherry frames with a maple panel, even better with quilted or Birdseye maple. Birch would be a possibility but leave it natural don't try to make it something it is not.
esch, That is a beautiful piece and great example.
That is a great looking piece.
I use Maple and Cherry components in a lot of my work and think they work great together.
I agree. Maple panel in cherry is a perfect marriage. I did a cherry bureau with cherry panels in all but a small center top drawer. For it, I used birds eye and a unique pull. Birds eye has quite a bit of red grain so that it blends nicely with the cherry.
If you want a different wood to have a contrast, go for it. If you want to use a different wood that you can stain to make it all look the same, I wouldn't. You won't be happy with it.
Only one suggestion - try it first.
Before you commit, make up a test piece and see how it looks.
their are 2 things that can be done with red oak. paint it or burn it. red oak has a LOUD grain pattern. like others have said make a small test panel to see how it matches up. good luck having red oak match any other quality hard wood. best finish that I have found for red oak is boiled linseed oil.
When I was building a house 20 years ago, the living room had cherry wainscoating and trim, with regular pine windows with cherry jamb extenders that I made. I tried 5 or 6 brands of cherry stain, and the only one whose color bore any resemblance to natural finished cherry was Minwax. The others were not even close. Even with the right color, color density was difficult to match, and the color variation of natural cherry was totally absent.
I have done a lot of work for churches; red oak is a particularly suitable wood for that, as its grain reads so well from a distance. What is overwhelming in an intimate piece is appropriate at a distance. So I don't paint it or burn it... It can be much more difficult to carve than white oak, as the density difference between the late wood and the open pores is so extreme.
I'll put up pictures of several things: a recent vanity with curly maple frames and ebony panels, a carved mini-coffin of red oak, and a heavily carved red oak lectern.
Having trouble getting pictures uploaded. Will work on it.
Here are pictures:
I've added a couple at the end of a quarter-sawn sycamore and walnut bedside table. The customer originally suggested cherry to go with the sycamore, but I pushed for the walnut, as the cherry and sycamore colors, instead of being variations, would have been an ugly contrast.
Nice table! I see you went longways on the larger tabletop & shelf and crossways on the upper surface... how much (if any) reinforcement did you give the miters? Those panels look pretty tight, are they solid wood?
Thanks to everyone for the feedback and pictures. Some very nice work there. The only comment I have is that cherry and red oak actually go well together and I like the contrast. Not so much in color and oak does darken over time, just not as much as cherry. The grain contrast can be quite appealing. I too cannot agree with the "paint it or burn it" Comment. I have come to appreciate the beauty of all species of wood, even the lowly pine. My house in VT had red oak cabinets in the galley kitchen. All the moulding was red oak as well. We were constantly complimented for the look. Although, I did heat my house with wood and burned quite a lot of oak, so it is a good firewood. I also have done a built in cabinet, murphy, office desk combo in my new house her in FL, red oak frame and doors, etc, with a cherry table and desktop. It looks amazing. Nothing wrong with red oak. I have included pics of a turntable I made with red oak and cherry, our solarium, done in knotty and clear pine, and finally one of our galley kitchen. The built in is too large to get a decent pic of it, just doesn't do it justice. Cherry is my favorite, but I like red oak also. I try to use different species of wood when I want a different look and very rarely use stain. It makes the wood look fake in my opinion.