New Cherry, Meet Old Cherry: Aging Cherry Wood With Baking Soda

I’ve spent the day cleaning up the shop and my attention keeps going to a small stack of young cherry boards in the corner of my shop. All I can think about looking at those cherry boards is a conversation I had with a local lumber supplier a few weeks ago regarding the demand for cherry furniture, he mentioned how nobody was too interested in young cherry and were looking for that deep dark look of older aged cherry. I am inclined to agree that deep red old cherry is much more attractive than younger cherry in many applications. 

So… what do you do? Well, there is an old trick that my grandfather taught me years ago and it involves aging wood with baking soda. Baking soda will cause a chemical reaction in the tannins contained within the wood. this reaction is similar to the aging/oxidation process that occurs naturally, only we speed this up with a little help from the pantry. 

In this demonstration, I am using cherry… as per the topic of my conversation with Loran. 
Many people mix a stronger/weaker baking soda solution, My preference is 1 tablespoon of (active) baking soda, to 2 cups of warm water. Mix until the baking soda is completely dissolved, and apply a thin coat to your work piece allowing to dry between coats. In many cases 1 coat will be great followed by your favorite finish, but each board can differ as the amount of tannins in each piece can also vary. 

Once the chemical stain is dry, I apply an oil finish and let dry.I believe this method works with many finishes and topcoats. To be sure there are no adverse reactions, you may want to test this out if using something other than described in my post. 

New cherry, meet old cherry.

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