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1. Quickly apply a coat of diluted golden brown water-based dye, using a pump sprayer and a rag. Let the dye saturate the surface, then wipe off the excess and let the surface dry.

Achieve rich, warm color without blotching in 4 easy steps.

If you’ve ever stained birch plywood a dark color, the results were probably so blotchy and difficult to reverse that you vowed, “Never again!” Which is too bad, because if you could stain birch plywood a deep, reddish-brown color so it looked like cherry plywood, you could save a bundle on materials for your next project.

Here’s why you should never say “never.” I’m going to show you how to give birch plywood a rich, warm color that resembles cherry. This process effectively blends the dark-colored heartwood and light-colored sapwood that typically appears on most grades of birch plywood. It even works on the budget-priced grades you’ll find at home centers. This process also blends solid wood edge banding with the plywood’s veneered surfaces. It uses readily available finishing products and it doesn’t require any special finishing equipment—you won’t even need a brush!

Baby steps

Creating a deep, uniform tone on birch plywood is a real challenge. Using regular dark-colored liquid oil-based cherry stains or dyes will result in unsightly blotching and/or a harsh unnatural color. Moreover, using stain or dye alone will not help blend the wood’s light and dark colors. Even gel stains (which are sometimes touted as “blotch-reducing” because they don’t soak in quite as much as liquid stains or dyes) work only a little better to meet these challenges. 

Nonetheless, a more traditional cherry look can be achieved with a good plan and a little extra care. The best way to accomplish this is to deepen the color gradually, using a series of steps that are designed to minimize the risk of…

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