Advice for a Beginner on Finishing Cherry Cabinets

Here's some help along the learning curve for a newbie to cabinet finishing. April 24, 2014

(WOODWEB Member):
I'm getting ready to start a kitchen. In the past, the companies that I worked for had someone designated to doing finish. Now that I'm on my own, I'm slowly learning more and more. This kitchen that I'll be starting next week will have cherry frames, drawers and doors. The customers want a natural satin clear coat finish. I'll be spraying it with HVLP. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor L:
That'll be a breeze. What finish are you using? Do you have a booth? Are you completely clueless, or do you have good idea what you're doing, been at it for a while and just want some input?

From contributor J:
There are a lot of finishes out there and everyone has their favorite. I like a little color to my clear coat when dealing with cherry. So I avoid water white finishes and instead use Duravar, a post catalyzed finish which has just a tinge of color, similar to a poly. It sprays easily and has a nice feel.

From contributor M:
On a side note, don't use standard wood putty to fill nail holes and other defects prior to finishing. Since you are clear coating cherry, the cherry will darken, but the flller won't, and it will stick out like a sore thumb after the cherry darkens. I would highly recommend you make your filler out of fine cherry sawdust and a binder, such as clear coat, that way the filler will darken with the rest of the wood.

From contributor C:
Give Target coatings a call. They are all water based. Everyone has their opinion about what is best. I use 2K urethanes but the cost is high and a good spray booth and breathing system are critical. A nitro lacquer is simple and gives an amber tint but the coat is not very strong. If you use a water based finish on cherry, you might want to add a bit of color. Good luck with your work. Finding what works for you will take some time and effort.

From contributor N:
Ehen I spray cherry with water base clear I use Target em9000. I think they also call it SC (super clear) 9000. It is non yellowing. But first I spray a light coat of shellac mixed from flakes to give the cherry some life. Cherry sprayed with just water based is lifeless.

From contributor I:
This is a good finish to begin with your finishing skills. If you're going just clear coat, I would finish sand wood to 180. Make sure wood is clean. I have tried most manufacturers, and I still like Mohawk. I would finish a couple sides of boxes vertical that will not be seen to get a feel for flow out. I like to thin vinyl sealer at least 20 percent. Their conversion varnish is nice. I would also thin that out and slow drying to avoid any orange peel. If you don't have a booth, a small fan behind you and larger in front to pull will work. But for sure, a good respirator. Their pre-cat is also good, but the CV will serve your client better. If you get stuck, just call Mohawk or rep and they will help you.