cherry stock finish

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hi all , building a chambers british fowler / officers fusil . wondering what would be a proper finish for a 1750- 1775 cherry stock fowler? would it be different if it is build as an officers fusil as opposed to a fowling piece? thanks all who reply. mike
 

rich pierce

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Cherry was most commonly used in New England. The British style was less common there but not unknown. I’d finish it plain without carving. Stain with dilute lye solution allowed to dry overnight and heat applied to bring out reddish brown color. You can neutralize with vinegar then a water wash. Here is the result.
 

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LME

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As a builder of custom furniture I prefer a pure Tung Oil finish for Cherry wood. It brings out the natural color and is the hardest of the oil finishes. Just apply it in several coats allowing the earlier coats to dry .If you put it on to thick it will turn a milky gray.
I like Tung Oil but it isn't a durable finnish. It is easy to repair but a pure tung oil finnish isn't hard at all?
 
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Cherry was most commonly used in New England. The British style was less common there but not unknown. I’d finish it plain without carving. Stain with dilute lye solution allowed to dry overnight and heat applied to bring out reddish brown color. You can neutralize with vinegar then a water wash. Here is the result.
Rich, I just purchased a nicely figured cherry stock and had it shipped to Jim Kibler to make a Woodsrunner kit for me. Several months away but planning ahead. The stock you pictured is exactly the color/look I want on mine. Can you tell me how to make the dilute lye solution you mentioned in your post? Also, you heated after it dried overnight if I am reading that correctly. I've requested scraps from the stock so I can experiment. Just getting excited and planning ahead. Thanks.
 

rich pierce

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Rich, I just purchased a nicely figured cherry stock and had it shipped to Jim Kibler to make a Woodsrunner kit for me. Several months away but planning ahead. The stock you pictured is exactly the color/look I want on mine. Can you tell me how to make the dilute lye solution you mentioned in your post? Also, you heated after it dried overnight if I am reading that correctly. I've requested scraps from the stock so I can experiment. Just getting excited and planning ahead. Thanks.
I got some red devil lye but some drain cleaners work as well. I went by guess and by golly, 4 tablespoons (the measuring kind) in an 8 ounce jar. It heats up when dissolving. That’s my full strength solution. I try that on a scrap. If too reddish I dilute 1 part full strength to 2 parts water. I wipe it on with a sopping wet cloth ( using vinyl gloves). Don’t spare the sauce. It will look ugly but fear not. Dry overnight then blush with a heat gun just like AQF. Depending on wood and strength you get somewhere between warm brown to reddish brown to saturated red ( more lye = more reddish). I wash with water once rubbing vigorously with a dipping cloth. Then again with vinegar then water again. After that I dry 2 days before raising the grain etc. the results can easily be varied. Here’s a New England fowler with the buttstock repaired by piecing in 2 pieces of cherry. I made the back story up, that the buttstock was shattered by a British musket ball while I was reloading at Breed’s Hill. In reality, the blank had a couple soft/punky spots that were revealed only after the barrel and lock were inletted and I’d started shaping the buttstock.
 

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WEAR GLOVES, I prefer the chemical resistant variety, and DO NOT breathe the vapors(!!!!) when mixing lye with water. ALWAYS put lye in water, and then stir until its disolved. Its best to do this outdoors.

ONE tablespoon of lye in 8oz of water is plenty strong. Apply it liberally and watch the color change, but it will dry to a lighter color. If you DON'T blush it with heat, it can be a deep red. In that the lye (base) reacts with the tannic acid in the wood, it will react until there is no more acid or base to react with. Rinsing with water is recommended, vinegar (acid) would be optional, but that would need to be rinsed with water as well.

I did a block to show someone, applied Minwax Tung Oil when it was dry, and it hasn't changed color in the more than a year that has passed.

I make soap so have a good supply of NaOH on hand. Look for lye at your hardware store if they still sell it. Red Devil was the last that I bought locally. It may not be easy to find since the meth cookers use it....
 

LME

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Rich, I just purchased a nicely figured cherry stock and had it shipped to Jim Kibler to make a Woodsrunner kit for me. Several months away but planning ahead. The stock you pictured is exactly the color/look I want on mine. Can you tell me how to make the dilute lye solution you mentioned in your post? Also, you heated after it dried overnight if I am reading that correctly. I've requested scraps from the stock so I can experiment. Just getting excited and planning ahead. Thanks.
How a piece of Cherry wood looks newly finnished is beautiful but Cherry wood will turn as it ages to a more bronish color. To me I like it after a few years better than when it is fresh.
 
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This subject has been discussed in depth. A search will keep anyone busy reading for awhile. Having said that, what worked for me was to get some wood samples, mix up a lye solution fairly strong and start applying it. It will be too dark but just keep diluting the solution until you get what color you want. Of course, mix up enough so that when you have it right there is enough left to do the stock.
 

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