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Select boards with a minimum of sapwood and gum pockets. Then, remember these tips:
- Black cherry planes extremely well due to its fine, close grain, but take light cuts in jointing. Dull blades burnish it.
- We've found that for some reason steel blades burn black cherry less than carbide-tipped blades. Avoid burning by feeding the stock without hesitation. In crosscutting, carbide blades outperform steel.
- Except for the common twist drill, any type of bit does well. However, use slower drill press speeds (about 250 rpm). A pause will burn the wood.
- In routing, black cherry doesn't chip or tear like maple, but it will burn during a split-second hesitation. Take light passes without stopping.
- All types of woodworking adhesives work well, as long as you carefully control squeeze-out. It mars a clear finish more jarringly than on other woods. To check, wipe joints with thinner.
- Because black cherry is nearly as hard as maple, it scratches easily in cross-grain sanding, so never overlap strokes where joints bring the grain together at right angles, such as the comer of a face frame. For best results, use a cabinet scraper to remove scratches between grit changes.
- You probably won't want to stain cherry, except to blend sapwood with darker heartwood. For control, we recommend aniline dye. To hasten cherry's natural tendency to darken, mix a solution of 1or 2 ounces of sodium hydroxide (lye, poisonous) to a gallon of water, brush it on the wood, then neutralize with water. Experiment for shades.
- Although oil finishes and clear lacquers or varnishes work equally well on cherry, you'll get a smoother finish on this fine-grained wood if you thin the first coat to act as a sealer. Then, sand with 400-grit or 0000 steel wool after it's dry and recoat.
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