Correcting a Yellow Cast on Cherry

A little timely advice helps a finisher get the right brown tone, while simplifying his finishing schedule. November 12, 2006

Always with wiping stains, I use clear stain base first to control splotch. It is giving my cherry a yellow cast which is noticeable after sealer. I have 75 cherry doors to do. If I use a dye to tone the wood and bring it all to the same general tone before even applying the clear stain base, should I blanket spray everything - all stiles, rails, and center panels - or selectively spray certain parts? My dye mix is black reduced way down in acetone, sprayed dry and light just to gray things up and mute the yellow cast of the clear stain base, also to darken the wood a little first so I won't have so much toning to do. What is the best way to even out the color? The raw wood can fool you, and it almost seems safer to tone after stain and seal to see which way the color is going... but I already did some of these doors and the yellow was an issue. Also, they weren't dark enough after first stain and seal.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
Try adding a little stain right into the stain base. This will change the yellow. Try using a burnt sienna or a Van Dyke brown, or a combination of both colorants.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I was thinking of that, only a small amount to tint a little. I probably could skip the dye step then. The only problem is I wasn't going to dye the center panels. They are recessed 1/4 ply and are grey to begin with, making them come out darker than the stiles and rails. So using just the clear stain on the center panels, and the tinted base on the stiles and rails, seems like the only solution. Is this the norm, selective toning?

From contributor M:
Each job is different - there is no norm in finishing. Make up some start to finish samples, do some tests, and then if needed, make adjustments.

From contributor R:
If you're dyeing the wood darker, why are you using the clear stain? Dye the wood the color you need and finish without it.

From contributor C:
A very light purple tint added to your clear stain base will counter the yellow tones (making them into browns). This should solve your problem. By keeping the tint very transparent, you should still get good blotch control. Another good approach would be to add some light purplish tones to any of your topcoats... Either way, you get the kill of the yellows and some more browns, which will help you get dark enough. Keep in mind... reds and greens create browns, greens are yellows and blues, ergo; blues and reds (purples) will brown yellows.

From contributor M:
Contributor R, it's used to prevent blotching, like thinned out wash coats, glue sizing, wood conditioners, etc.

From contributor R:
I'm aware of its use, but he said it is turning his project too yellow. If he can get the final color with dyes, he won't need the stain base. If he needs an oil stain after that to tweak it, he should use a washcoat.

From the original questioner:
I'm using Sherwin Williams wiping stains as the main stain, with the clear stain base, as the first step. I did try contributor M's suggestion of lightly tinting the clear toner base and after some tests, finally got a perfect match on the back of a drawer front. For me, this will be easier than toning the wood initially with the dye. I did try it with the dye and got a perfect match as well, but the tinted stain base will save a step.

Currently my schedule is:
1 Clear stain base tinted with 1.3 oz dark walnut stain to 16 oz clear stain
2. Wiping stain sprayed and wiped
3. Sealer
4. Light toning with stain
5. Sealer
6. Two coats CV

If I still need toning, I will take contributor C's suggestion and add some purple to the CV. Thanks very much.

From contributor M:
We're happy that it worked out for you. Do you have a color wheel in your shop? If not, you should get one.