I once had a flying friend, a former military pilot, tell me that flying missions was,
“Filled with hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by brief moments of panic.”
While woodworking is fortunately not filled with hours of boredom, it can occasionally be fraught with brief moments of panic.
Some time ago, I had decided to artificially “age” the cherry in my privacy screen project, using a solution of lye in water. I decided on this because I don’t feel like I’m connecting with customers when I try to explain how the piece will age, and I don’t have any good photographs for examples. The piece will simply show better with an aged cherry look. And also partly out of a desire for some instant gratification for myself. I’ve used this procedure before on smaller projects with good results, so I thought nothing more about applying the lye to the parts that I’ve completed for the privacy screen.
The brief (and not so brief) moment of panic came after I applied the lye to the first two stiles (vertical pieces) of the screen. Instead of the dark red I was expecting, I got a sickly, greenish yellow. Mortified with the result, and not really knowing what to do next, I decided to call it a day, and sleep on it. So today, the yellow had turned to a rusty orange color. I applied a second coat of the lye solution, and the cherry started to turn the familiar dark red that I was looking for. A quick first coat of Daly’s ProFin, a wipe on polyurethane, secured the look I was hoping for.
The photo above shows the first two stiles after two applications of the lye solution, and the next two stiles shortly after one application. In the foreground, is one of the remaining untreated stiles. My best guess, is that because I like to work with an abundance of caution, I used a weaker solution than usual, so the reaction took longer and a second application was required. In the end, things worked out fine; crisis averted.