How to Make Cherry Wood Cabinets Beautiful Again | Ep. 91

Cherry wood cabinets in a kitchen photographed in 2015
If your cherry wood cabinets have lost their luster, a simple cleaning recipe, or some polyurethane, can help. (DepositPhotos)

Cherry wood cabinets give any kitchen a rich, warm glow, but over time, they can dull in appearance.

That’s the issue for Dan in Alaska, who cleans his cabinets with a hot sponge, just like we recommend, but worries that they’ve lost their luster.  

If you have the same concern, try our solutions.

How to Revive Cherry Wood Cabinets

Mix one-part coconut oil with two parts baking soda until it becomes a paste. Smear it onto the cherry wood cabinets in a test location and scrub it into the wood with a toothbrush.

Next, apply the paste all over the cabinets and determine in a few days whether you’re satisfied with the treatment.

If you’re not, it’s probably time for varnish or polyurethane. Just get a China bristle brush and a good-quality clear polyurethane (satin finish), and apply the finish in the direction with the grain.

You can put just one light coat on your cherry wood cabinets, let it dry and see if that’s enough. If it still doesn’t have quite the ‘pop’ you imagined, give it another coat.

Listen to the Today’s Homeowner Podcast for more home improvement tips!

  • [1:09] What to do when a toilet won’t clear waste
  • [5:52] How to reduce noise from an AC unit
  • [10:22] Home Depot Best New Product: DeWalt Trimmer / Blower Combo Kit
  • [16:47] What is the purpose of an uncoupling membrane — and is it worth the extra cost?
  • [19:02] How to clean cherry wood cabinets and make them beautiful once again?
  • [25:01] Simple Solution: How using a plane before you sand lessens the time spent sanding
  • [28:34] Question of the Week: Which is better for insulation: paper side up to flooring or down?

Simple Solutions

Cut Sanding Time with Block Plane — It’s often necessary to remove the sharp edges of boards by sanding them by hand or with an electric orbital sander.

But you can save a considerable amount of time — and create much less dust — by first knocking off the sharp edges with a block plane.

Set the plane for a shallow depth of cut and run it over each edge two or three times. That’ll cut your sanding time in half, and as a bonus, you’ll save on sandpaper, too.

Easy-Saw Sole Plate — When building a wall out of 2x4s or 2x6s, it’s common practice to frame the wall flat on the floor and to run the sole plate at the bottom of the wall full length, right across any doorway openings. That way, the wall stays nice and straight.

However, before standing up the framed wall, cut halfway through the underside of the bottom plate at each side of the doorway rough openings.

Then, after the wall is erected and secured in place, removing the sole plate from the doorway openings is easy because you only need to saw through about 3/4 inches of wood.

Question of the Week

Q: “I’m wanting to install R-25 insulation under my floor in a vented crawl space. Which is better: paper side up to flooring or down?”

A: When you’re installing insulation, you have a 50-50 chance, and so many people do this wrong! Always have craft paper facing toward the heated and cooled area.

In this case, the paper would be up and you would use tension wires to keep the insulation in place. No stapling is necessary; just squeeze the insulation between those wires.

Better yet, mineral wool insulation has no facing, so you can put it up any way you want, and you can hold it in place with chicken wires.

Further Reading

Now that you have a game plan for cleaning and restoring your cherry wood cabinets — along with many more home improvement tips — here are additional resources for enhancing your kitchen!


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