I'm finishing a new (purchased) maple pantry door to go with some maple
kitchen cabinets I'm building. Rather than a strictly clear coat, I wanted
a slightly amber finish. I had purchased some Honey Amber TransTint dye
from Homestead Finishing. The directions say to use 1 oz of dye per quart
of finish. With the 4 oz of finish that I poured out, that worked out to
1.5 teaspoons. I figured I'd start with half that much for starters. After
cleaning the measuring spoon before the wife caught me measuring dye with
it, I mixed it with the finish. Let's just say that they aren't kidding
when they call the TransTint "concentrated". I'd say it was about 10 shades
more amber than I was looking for. I started over, and found that two drops
in 4 oz of finish gave me the desired effect. Live and learn.
I recently had a protracted "first experience" with wood dyes.
Over a period of a few weeks I made small batches of maybe a dozen
mixtures. I had three dye powders and one Trans-Tint bottle. I was
trying to match, more or less, some furniture we bought for the same
room. Each time I made a selection of mixtures I applied some of each
to a piece of scrap. Over the next couple of days I finished the scrap
with the method I had chosen, so I could see what the color would
really look like.
I came up with a mixture that seemed pretty good, good enough to
decide that I had the right dyes, even if I didn't know the
proportions I had used. I decided to try to make a large enough batch
for my project, which was about 30 square feet. There was my first
problem; I didn't know how much I needed. I was tired of waiting to
finish this project, so I took a guess.
I filled a one liter seltzer bottle with roughly 3/4 water and 1/4
isopropyl alcohol. I didn't measure and I didn't use distilled water.
I also didn't heat the mixture first.
I added the first powder, Red Mahogany. As the OP said, the mixture
got very dark, very quickly. I "painted" a 3" swatch on a long piece
of 1x2 oak, the same wood as the face frame of my project. Dark in the
bottle, but much too light on the wood. More Red Mahogany. Two trials
later I felt like I was starting to approach the proper amount of
"darkness", but not quite the right color.
I added some Wine Red powder (different manufacturer). In my earlier
experiments I had found that, despite its name, Wine Red never
produced the deep color the name suggests, even in concentrations so
high that some wouldn't dissolve. It is also about the most insidious
substance I have ever encountered. The tiniest bit of the powder left
on a surface will stain everything it comes in contact with. A couple
of applications of that color gave the swatches a touch more "cherry"
I was judging the color while it was still wet on the wood. The dry
color was nothing like what I was looking for, I was hoping that the
wet color would approximate what it would look like finished.
I felt I was getting pretty close, but the "Cordovan" color of my
furniture had a bit of purple in it. My earlier experiments had shown
that the "Cordovan" Trans-Tint I had bought didn't make the color of
my furniture, at least not by itself. But it did have that purplish
I was worried that I might ruin what seemed to be a promising mixture
so I poured out a small amount of it into another seltzer bottle. I
added the Trans-Tint and made some more swatches. It was looking good.
I added a fair amount of the Trans-Tint to the full bottle. Two more
doses and I thought I had an acceptable color. My color-test piece of
oak looked a little like a totem pole at this point.
I capped the bottle and, being impatient, dried the dyed wood with a
heat gun. Then I applied my first coat of finish. Over the next few
days I performed the full finishing regimen I planned to use on the
test piece. Success!
It was a lot harder to apply the color evenly to a large project than
it was to make a small swatch. I managed reasonably well in the end.
I've nearly got the project finished now. Despite all my missteps,
it's looking pretty good.
just say that they aren't kidding when they call the TransTint "concentrated".
I'd say it was about 10 shades more amber than I was looking for.
I've had excellent success with TransTint and denatured alcohol ---
especially with figured maple. I half filled a pint bottle with alcohol
and added, dropwise, the dye, testing it on scrap until I brought it to
the intensity and tone I wanted. No other measuring ---
If I needed more solution, I was able to replicate the color i wanted
by this technique. By the way, if you mix a too deep tone, You don't
have to discard the mixture, you can add more solvent and bring it up
to what you want.
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