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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Custom Cherry Cabinets Stain


Hi Jamie!  I contracted to have custom cherry cabinets built for my kitchen.  I gave the cabinet maker a leaf from my cherry table to match and he made up some samples for me.  I compared the samples with the leaf and chose one, giving it back to the cabinet maker.  5 weeks later the cabinets have arrived and they aren't even close to the color of my table.  The cabinets are a brownish color whereas my table has more of a reddish hue to it.  So my questions are 1) How in the world does this happen? 2) What remedies are there for this situation? 3) Based on your experience as a cabinet maker and business person, what is reasonable for me to expect to resolve a situation that has so obviously gone wrong?  Thank you very much!

Hi Dave,

I have to say - finishing problems are the biggest pain in my side, and for that reason, I usually prefer to send work out to be stained, or tell people I will give them the piece unfinished. It is VERY hard to match stains, in my opinion.

That said - if the cabinet maker gave you samples and showed you colors to choose from, he probably had the "recipe" for each color. He should have been able to mix up a similar batch of stain and stain your cabinets to match the sample, it's pretty straightforward. There are sometimes minor variations in the colors of raw wood so staining one batch of cherry could possibly look different from another batch of cherry. But - it would mostly be minor, not like what you described.

What is reasonable? Well, I will tell you that some professional finishers are miracle workers, and could probably fix the problem without too much trouble. I just recently learned about a product that looks like a can of spray paint, but it's sort of a tinting product.  I am not 100% sure what to call it, but I saw a buddy of mine use it - he had stained something the wrong color, so he picked this can up and lightly sprayed the wood with it. It basically changed the tint of the wood, adding more red to it, and thus, made it look like it was supposed to look. So it's possible that a finisher could work with your kitchen and do the same.

The question is - who pays for it?

My best suggestion would be to look at the sample that you agreed to, and compare it to what you got. If the difference is a "smack you in the face" difference, then call the cabinetmaker and show it to him. In that case, I would imagine he would be responsible for paying the finisher. I'm not a lawyer, but if my customer did that, what could I do but agree that it was my screw up?

Who knows - the "tinting" to get it back to what you want might be a very simple remedy - not a couple of thousand dollars! Good communication is really important, and also - being nice and understanding is really helpful. I know that might sound silly, but if you start barking right off the bat, the cabinetmaker is going to be less inclined to work with you.

OK, that's my best suggestion - find a finisher and get a price on fixing it. Not a "strip and refinish" job, but a tinting job. Just might work and make everyone happy.

Good luck, write back if you have more questions.

Jamie in Vegas

Jamie Yocono
Wood It Is! Custom Cabinetry
Las Vegas, NV

Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks

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Jamie Yocono


Woodworker, Furniture designer/builder, industrial arts educator. Bachelor degree in Furniture Design, and journeyman carpenter, with a 4 year apprenticeship. Currently owner of custom furniture/cabinet shop in Las Vegas, NV. Can answer most woodworking questions EXCEPT those regarding repairs, refinishing, and antiques.


Bachelor in Furniture Design - Ohio University (1980) Journeyman Carpenter, Local 639 Adult educator - Developed adult education woodworking program for the University of Akron, and taught classes there for 9 years. Opened a private woodworking school in Las Vegas, NV and teach private and semi-private lessons. In 2011, I will begin teaching UNLV woodworking classes at my school. Sweet!

Furniture Society

Tile Design and Installation Magazine (Article on inlaying tile into wood)

Journeyman Union Carpenter Bachelors degree in Furniture Design (Ohio University) College of Hard Knocks!

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