I just finished small cabinet made of nice curly maple for my wife and
she wants me to stain it. I picked up a bottle of Transtint dye stain
that I am mixing with denatured alcohol. I'm trying the stain with
scrap pieces of the curly maple to check the color. I found that when I
apply the stain to wood that has not been sanded, I get a beautiful
curly effect - it actually amplifies the curl for this case where I
have not sanded the wood. In this case, I can still "feel" the curl
on the wood's surface and the stain accents the low points. However,
when I apply the stain to a piece of wood that has been sanded to match
the cabinet (240 grit), the curl is not coming through very strongly.
It seems to be attenuated (possibly) over the unstained case.
Any suggestions on how to stain curly maple and have the strong curly
effect come through? Would it help to mix the Transtint with water
instead of the "non-grain-raising" alcohol?
He mentioned stain though.
I consider that as sacrilegious as staining cherry.
Maybe he should use the same recipe that was recommended to me.
> WillR wrote:
>> We should be discussing things like -- oh say -- the best
>> way to stain cherry
> That's easy. You take the blood of the person wishing to stain the
> cherry (five liters - litres, Jeff - is generally adequate), thin it
> with 200 proof anhydrous denatured alcohol, mix it with a #1.5 cut of
> your favorite shellac and apply with a pad lubed with mineral oil.
Just substitute curly Maple for cherry and you have my opinion.. ROTFLMAO
Maybe the Deft Danish oil - Fruitwood - doesn't add much colour -- but
Or the Tried and True Danish Oils... (See Lee Valley for Both)
Imagine you've figured it out by now, but there's a difference that is
definitely a difference. What we normally refer to as "stain," is really a
paint lite. It features ground pigment, a vehicle, and maybe a solvent.
Key to understanding is that you have to shake it to disperse the pigment
Since it's tiny pieces of color, it naturally gets retained best in the end
grain, less in the face, and not at all on the surface of the harder annual
rings. Problem is, it scatters light by virtue of particle size, making
things a bit duller-looking. To my eye, even with the current mod 5
trifocal, this is never really compensated by the finish.
Dye, on the other hand is dissolved, not suspended in a vehicle. We
generally mix the aniline dyes with water or alcohol - polar solvents - to
take advantage of the fact that cellulose likes hydroxyl groups, and wood's
entire macrostructure is designed for the transport of fluid with the
approximate physical characteristics of water. So a dye will penetrate,
rather than coat the wood, and will not fill the pores with pigment and
cured vehicle. Application of a transparent finish will give a film of
consistent refractive index, allowing the shape of the wood grain to bend
the light, not some stain.
Bits of conventional wisdom referred to in this thread include scraping, not
sanding, to leave a more open surface. Scraping doesn't pack the pores with
dust, nor does it heat and harden the surface - burnish - as sanding to a
high number under power can do. This hardened surface, with its contracted
pores and actually reject oil, which relies on secondary channels for
penetration. Not so bad with water or alcohol, because they don't rely on
the same channels. Proof of that is to leave a drop of water on an oiled or
Don't know where my brain went -- I was thinking in terms of colouring
Curly Maple. Period.
As some people point out you can actually enhance the curly effect --
that would be ok in my book.
Thank you George.
Sanding to a higher grit will lessen the stain absorbtion. Also, you
need to see what it looks like with the final finish, I assume poly,
lacquer or shellac. The higher the gloss, the more effect you will see.
I'd suggest a crystal clear high gloss lacquer that is worked down with
0000 steel wool to lower the luster a bit.
I wouldn't do anything to figured wood, other than varnish it.
However you obviously want to color it.
My guess is that stain would show the figure better than dye.
(Just today I bought a bunch of curly cherry. You can bet nothing is going
on that but BLO.)
No, sorry, that's backwards. Stain obscures wood grain whether it's figured or
not. Dye can bring it out dramatically.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt.
And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
Chatoyance is the porperty of figured wood that causes it to change
appearance when illuminated or viewed from different angles.
Stain kills the chatoyance which is what makes curly maple special.
If you stain it, the effect will be much as if you had simply used
stain to paint some dark streaks on plain maple.
If you want ot change the color overall, rather than highlighting
the figure, you can use a colored film finish (toning).
As others haqve noted, dye isn't stain. You're on the right track
using dye instead of stain. Try scraping the wood instead of
sanding, also try scraping it flat, applying the dye, and then
scraping it again.
(Then let me know how it works...)
Ther was an article in Fine wood working a few years ago that had a 4 step
process. I think the article was named something like "Pop the grain in
Curly maple". Anyway it had you apply a brown dye (water base), Sand it
down to remove most stain ( it remains in the curl). Stain it again with a
lighter stain. Apply an oil finish ( really brings out the grain). When
oil dry apply a 2# cut of dewaxed shellac to seal. FInish with whatever you
like ( varnish, laquer, et al).
It always looks a little muddy after the dye goes down. You need to add an
oil to bring the figure out after you apply the dye. Then seal with a
topcoat such as shellac.
I have used this recipe several times ... it's based on Jeff Jewitt's
Homestead finishing site:
I prefer to go fairly light on the aniline dye.
Here are a couple of examples of pieces:
I'd like to thank everyone for their comments to my question. My
major problem was that I hadn't put anything on top of the stained
wood and it was cloudy. The curly grain came out after rubbing some BLO
on the stained sample. After showing about seven or eight different
stained and colored samples to my wife she decided she liked the one
finished with dark garnet shellac. It looks great, the curly grain
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.