How to use a water soluble dye

I am trying to get a new piece to match an existing "cherry" dresser. The dresser appears to have colored lacquer on it, so my attempts at matching with stain (even gel stain) aren't working. Mine looks too much like wood!
So, I bought some water soluble dye. The first application raised the grain, and my sanding removed most of the dyed wood. I guess I expected it to penetrate better. So I put on a second application, and that has raised grain also.
Obviously I am doing something wrong. How do you deal with raised grain?
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I have used isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to dissolve the water soluble dye with NO grain raising. On maple.
If your isopropyl alcohol has been laying around a while it might have a higher concentration of H2O dissolved. Get a fresh bottle of isopropyl alcohol.
Give it a try on a sample piece of cherry first.

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Local drug stores carry both 70% and 91% isopropyl. TransTint dyes from Jeff Jewitt site Tom provided can be mixed in many solutions including waterbased polyurethane and shellac to make toners. I'm using them in PSL now for some wall units our daughter wants. Several coats of toner gets the final color wanted with obscuring the grain. Zinssers Seal Coat is wax free 2# cut shellac that probably would accept TransTint dyes.

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There are two basic types of dyes that can be used, water based and everything else 8^) to use the WB dyes, you need to wet down the wood after sanding, let dry (day or two), then sand lightly again. This will eliminate most of the grain raising caused by applying the water based dye. To avoid the grain raising caused by the water you can mix the water based dyes (TransFast) with Glycol and apply or use the non-WB dyes (TransTint or other oil or alcohol based). I've never tried mixing the WB dyes with alcohol.
-Bruce
snipped-for-privacy@vcoms.net wrote:

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BruceR wrote:

I'm with you, a water based stain is a dye dissolved in water. If you dissolve it in alcohol, even if diluted, you ought to call it an alcohol stain.
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Water based simply means it dissolves in WATER miscible solvents (POLAR SOLVENTS). This is different from oil based dyes that dissolve in OIL miscible solvents (NONPOLAR SOLVENTS, i.e. mineral spirits).
Water based stains do not have to be dissolved in water. They are freely miscible in other POLAR solvents. This includes methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol and acetone. (I think they are even soluble in Diethyl Ether, but it evaporates to quickly). Water based stains are NOT miscible in oil (nonpolar solvents).
Water based dyes work great when dissolved in alcohols. If your alcohol is fairly anhydrous (dry) it will not raise the grain. Alcohol does not have the same effect on wood grain as water. The only problem I can see with using alcohol is that it evaporates more rapidly. You have to wipe off the excess more quickly than with water. This is not usually a problem IMHO.

You GOTTA try it. :)
wrote:

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(I think they are even soluble in Diethyl Ether, but it evaporates to quickly).
I brain farted. They are not soluble in diethyl ether.
sorry.

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stoutman wrote:

Stoutman, interesting! What is the difference then between the TransFast WB dyes and the TransFast alcohol dyes at homestead fininshing? I use the WB dyes since I can spray them and cleanup is easy. The AB dyes cost a lot more plus the added cost of the solvent. If what you imply works, I can avoid the grain raising issues for only the added cost of alcohol. I'd reckon I could still lighten the tone after application and drying with a damp rag (water or alcohol)
-Bruce

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The transfast dyes are marketed as WATER SOLUBLE dyes NOT WATER BASED DYES on their web page. Take a small amount and see if it will dissolve in alcohol, if it does your in luck.
Water based dyes WILL dissolve in other POLAR solvents. The TRANS TINT water based dyes sold by homestead even say on their web page that you CAN use alcohol for a nongrain raising stain.

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stoutman wrote:

Ahhh, the "fine print"!

alcohol soluble dyes (with alcohol of course) instead of the water soluble dyes.
Ok, I remember reading details somewhere and I believe in Flexner's book that you can avoid using water (and raising the grain) if you substitute (I hope I get this right) Glycol Ether for the water. Either way I'll try mixing up some of the WS dye with isopropyl alcohol to see what it does. If it works, coolio! otherwise I'll need to weigh in the costs of true alcohol soluble dyes + solvent versus the WS dyes + glycol ehter if I have a dye project where resanding would be too much work.
-Bruce

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From Homestead webpage for Transtint Dye
"Mix with tap or distilled water for an economical, non-flammable stain.OR mix with alcohol for a fast-drying, non-grain raising stain. No waiting or straining is necessary because the dye is pre-dissolved.
http://www.homesteadfinishing.com/htdocs/TransTint.htm
By specifically calling it a Water soluble dye they are telling you that it will dissolve in water. This does not mean in will dissolve in alcohol, but it also doesn't mean it won't. I have only used the Transtint Waterbased dye and it dissolves in alcohol completely miscible.
You should try Methanol first (MORE POLAR) and if its soluble in Methanol try Ethanol (Slightly less polar and higher boiling point thus easier to work with).

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stoutman wrote:

Ahh, the TransTint liquid dyes, I see.
My guess is that the TransFast and TransTint are the same base aniline powders so as long as I can get the initial mix going with out any lumps I should be able to dilute with either water or meth/ethanol .
-Bruce

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E-mail from Homesteadfinishing: You may find some of the primary colors like blue, turq blue, reds and black to be somewhat soluble. Methanol is the best. The wood tone colors can be mixed with the alcohols mentioned - however you should dissolve them first in water. You may see a color shift when doing this.
The TransTint liquid dyes will dissolve in both water and the alcohols you list. "

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Sounds good, but you are wrong. Yeah, some aniline dyes will dissolve in either water or alcohol. But, some dissolve in alcohol but not in water and some don't dissolve well in alcohol. So when you buy dyes you better specify what you want.
The "only" problem you see is "the" problem. I don't, and have never used alcohol dyes because the literature state that streaks are highly likely until you get the technique down and you better spray if you have a larger area. You have to be a complete dunce to get streaks with a water dye. YMMV.
stoutman wrote:

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If your not happy with the isopropyl alcohol. Another thing you can try is to wet your cherry forst with water and let it dry. Sand and wet again. Let dry and sand again. The cherry should resist grain raising after the repetitive wetting, drying and sanding.

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Try TransTint Dyes from Jeff Jewitt's site.
I believe that it is www.homesteadfinishing.com
There is also a lot of good finishing advice available over there and Jeff will answer some of the questions himself.
I've always had good results.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) (Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Raising the fuzz is a better name for what happens.
If you are going to use a water based dye you must first pre dampen the wood then let it dry. By wetting the grain is raised. You do NOT sand the wood till it has dried. When the wood has dried it shrinks back and leaves severed wood strands standing proud of the surface. This is what you want to remove.
You remove it by LIGHTLY sanding or scraping the fuzz off. Not by heavily sanding the piece again. If you do heavily sand you are creating a self propagating problem by severing more strands of wood.
Once you have done that correctly the application of the dye should go just fine.
On a further note it has been my experience that pre dampening is not necessary for undyed water based finishes. Just apply the first coat, let it dry, then scuff sand off any fuzz that remains standing.
--
Mike G.
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Toller wrote:

Just to emphasize what Mike G said, when you sand after wetting it the purpose is to cut off the hairs, so sand with a fine grade VERY lightly. You do not want to cut below the hairs that stick up or you will just make more hairs stand up when it gets wet.
My experience with water stains is that the wood remains looking like wood; that is why it is a very desirable stain. Repeated applications of the stain are unlikely to increase the darkness as you may anticipate. If the dresser has a stain dissolved in the lacquer, you are unlikely to ever get it to match without using the same material. The objective of water stains is clearity and transparency; the finish is clear. Muddy looking, non-wood looking probably has the pigment or dye dissolved in the finish coats.
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Wood magazine, March 04, issue 154, page 66 has an article on wood toning and using various dyes.

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