Matching Rosewood with Cherry

Compare your samples with the original on the actual site (but a good match will still be hard to achieve). March 26, 2007

I'm building a small entertainment center out of cherry. It's going to replace one that was made out of rosewood. (The customer wanted to keep the cost down, that's why we're using cherry.) She wants to come as close as possible to the color of the rosewood cabinet. Matching stains is not my cup of tea, so I could use whatever help you can offer. The color is a very deep reddish, orangish, burgundy color and the grain really pops. I'm using gel stains in all of my procedures because that's what I'm used to using. On the few attempts that I tried, I thought I had the color dead nuts, but when I brought the colors in the sunlight, they were so far off it's not funny.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
You have to remember that apparent color is as much a function of the spectrum of light striking an object as it is of the pigments you use to decorate the object. If the piece doesn't set out in the sun, don't check your color match in the sun. Further, apparent color is also influenced by the color of light reflected from other colored objects in the vicinity of your piece. The color of an object sitting on a red carpet can be very different than the same object sitting on a green carpet. So... check your color match in the lady's home, right where the piece will sit. You could already have it.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. My original reason for taking a look at the color outside was:
1. I have no windows in my shop.
2. The light is not the best for color matching.
3. I do have a rather large overhang, so the sunlight is not direct.
4. The customer has a medium toned wood floor.

5. Pieces of the same color furniture in the same room.
6. 12' of French doors about 3' to the right of the unit that gets the evening sun.

So that was my line of reasoning for doing what I did. I know there's not a lot you can do without seeing what kind of color I'm trying to come up with, but maybe you can give me some processes to achieve a deep tone color.

From contributor L:
By the time you get done with matching the color, hue and grain pop, you could have built it with the rosewood for the same price. I have learned that to try to make one wood look like another using faux techniques is just as costly as using the original wood in the first place. Hope she is not too picky and doesn't expect it to look perfect.

From contributor T:
Rule still holds: do your color matching in the piece's final resting place. Evening sun is not the same color as mid-day sun and the floor color will influence your color.

There are a few variations of rosewood and of color in the various rosewoods. Contributor L is right - you can spend a lot of time trying to match something and folks that are good at faux finishing earn their keep. Hard to tell without seeing it, but from what you've described, I would probably start by dyeing the wood one of the lighter background colors (orangish? burnt sienna?). Seal it. Stain or glaze it with one of the medium tones (reddish? burnt umber?). Seal it. Glaze it with one of the darker tones (burgundy? red mahogany?). If you work your stain and glaze right, you should be able to get some of the color variations typical in rosewood, and gel stains work well as glazes.

From the original questioner:
Well, she's not picky, but I sure would like to get the color as close as possible. Although this is a small entertainment center, it has a lot of parts. Contributor L is right - to go to that extent is not in my price. So I think I'll do like you said - go back to her house with what I've got and see what comes the closest.

From contributor E:
Highland Hardware sells the Arti brand of dyes. They make a rosewood dye and the color looks very good. I've used it on mahogany with excellent results. It will give you that overall Brazilian rosewood brick red color.

From contributor J:
Try Mohawk's light red mahogany. Thinning may be required.