Making poplar resemble cherry in color


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Currently I'm working on a bed. I'm making it from cherry. The dimensions for the side rails, the ones that support the slats under the box spring, are 1 1/2" thick 6 1/2" wide and a length of roughly 78". Not really wanting to spend the dough on 8/4 cherry, even at my employee discount price, to plane away 3/4" of an inch of it when it's more structural than anything else and not really seen so I'm planning to use poplar however I would like it to at least somewhat resemble the primary wood in color.

I'm finishing the cherry parts of the bed with Arm R Seal. Not staining it, preferring to let the wood age to it's own rich color over time. Most of the stains, both water based, gel and oil, that are marked as cherry are the deep red/brown color that you expect cherry to turn over time. I don't want to go that dark since I'm not staining the cherry.

Anyone have a suggestion? The products most readily available to me are General Finishes, Varathane and Watco Danish Oil in its assorted colors. I can also get my hands on Transtint and Transfast dyes. I'm not wanting to stain the poplar the dark faux-cherry color you see on most knock-off "cherry" finished furniture, but would rather try to mimic the color of new cherry that's been slightly ambered by an oil topcoat.

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Even if you get it to match 100% perfect day one, the cherry will slowly darken and the stained poplar will not resulting in non-matching color. Sounds like an ongoing battle and whether you are disappointed the first day you stain or 10 years down the road, well disappointment... I think Veneering might be the answer.

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Even if you get it to match 100% perfect day one, the cherry will slowly darken and the stained poplar will not resulting in non-matching color. ... I think Veneering might be the answer.

Or dying the poplar some contrasting color. I'm thinking black, because that will cover any green in the poplar well. But that might be too dark once the cherry darkens.

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I agree with the other folks here - Even if you get the poplar's color right today, tommorrow could be a different story..

When I'm attempting to make woods like poplar or maple look like cherry, I oftern turn to JE Moser's waterbased analine dyes. I like W1430 for cherry. Mix it full strength for that patina'ed look, or dilute it to acheive a lighter look. You can always play with it to tweek the color a bit.

Hope this helps

Gregory Paolini

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Boy that is tough. I have only played with this just a little bit, some day I need to figure this out. <_<

Works best using a spray gun.

I would probably give a cherry test piece a sunburn, then apply some armrseal. Get a can of the General Finishes Cinnamon dye stain. Reduce it by 2/3rds with water. Play by adding yellow and black dye to the Cinnamon dye stain if mostly green heart wood if that is what you are dealing with, it may turn more to the pink side. If your dealing with mostly white sap wood, stay more with the Cinnamon dye. That pinkish brown salmon and hint of green of cherry, over green poplar is not easy.

Or try bleaching the green out of the poplar (I have not tried that yet either) then try the above colors.

If I were you and desire everything to blend in, Then your cherry needs to take on some sort of color. That's just me.


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Last night, I figured out a "natural cherry dye" using Transtint. for a "non-aged" cherry and sprayed over poplar. Looks pretty good. I think better that using the General Finishes Cinnamon water based as your base color.

But I'm handicapped by one ingredient , I didn't have any transtint orange so I used general finishes water based orange. I believe the Transtint will take me just a wee more pinkish. Now your going to have to do the math, to gross it up to the quantity you want.

6 tsp of denatured alcohol (transfer agent)

2 drops of transtint honey amber

2 drops of transtint brown mahogany

1 drop transtint black

1 to 3 drop of General Finishes orange or probably 1 drop of Transtint orange.

You must spray this dye. Should take you several light applications to dial in your tone of cherry.

Let me know what you think


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