So what with all the grain raising and sanding why bother with water
based dyes at all? Seems like a lot of work to get the same color.
I'm a newbie to dyes and am in the middle of using some water based WD
Lockwood dye and am sort of kicking myself for not just getting the
alcohol or oil based stuff. Anyone have any thoughts?
I thought the same thing at first until you see how fast alcohol and
the hybrid NGR dyes dry. You have super trouble with lap marks. It
makes it almost impossible.
I have found with water you can wash out areas that get too dark,
easily blend and even re-do areas. With alcohol it is just a nightmare
to try and keep a wet edge as you initially lay it down and recoating
over dried areas double darkens, even after just a few seconds. I
totally favor water based dyes to the point I won't ever use alcohol.
A few extra considerations with water based dye.
It can wick in and out of seams so watch the piece and do some wipe
down in areas where you have butt joints, etc. until you are sure it
is dry. Also, be careful with Oak and other high tannin woods that you
don't use metalic based snadpaper. You can leave behind tiny grains of
metal embedded in the grain and they blacken within minutes of getting
wet, giving you some little dots or Birdseye Oak.
Lots of pros wet the piece before laying down water dye to add a level
of control. If the wood is wet then it doesn't soak up the color so
fast and you have more time to build it to the color you want. They
also use this technique when doing sunburst type colors with reds and
yellows, like on a strat guitar.
Too Much info? No charge.
On Fri, 02 Apr 2010 08:58:05 -0700, SonomaProducts.com wrote:
The only way I've managed to get alcohol based dyes to work is to mix
them with shellac. And even then lap marks are possible if I'm not
But I've heard they work great if sprayed - I dunno, I don't have any
spray equipment nor a place to spray.
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw
Yes, adding color via dyes to film finishes is pretty controllable
with the right equipment. Known as "toning". It has it's own draw
backs. It is used extensively in production furniture where lacquer or
poly is toned to give a good even coat of color without the problems
of blotching or absorbtion variations. You can use multiple layers of
a lighter color to build up to a darker tone. One problem is it is
very hard to repair and much care must be taken in laydown to avoid
lap marks, such that spraying is really the best method but careful
brushing with something like Minwax Ployshades, toned poly, can give
great results... sometimes.
I have found that a water-based dye is much more effective when trying
to achieve mission-style finishes on quarter-sawn white oak following
Jeff Jewitt's recipes...it seems to penetrate much better and provide
a deeper color, which surprised me--i expected the opposite.
Application is the key. Try using a good conditioner first, then it
isn't bad. It also helps a lot to thin the NGRs to make them easier
I never use the water based dyes as they scare me due to their
For me, I don't wipe, brush or pad any dyes. I always spray them out
of my HVLP gun, or my high pressure gun from a 1mm tip. You can shoot
a haze on the wood that comes out perfect, no laps, no witness lines,
and finishes out with perfect color.
If you do it this way, you will need to spray a coat of your finishing
material on the project (brushing/padding will lift off the dye), and
the dye color will melt into the finish. This will give you a
completely uniform color. This is also the easiest way to use dyes as
I have seen two different instances where the water based toners have
faded (Transtint brand). My amigo that makes furniture showed me
pictures of a table he made that was from mesquite, and the client
wanted the table a bit more red. (Mesquite can be anywhere from pink
to brown, and all colors in between). He dyed the top with TT, then
she put the large table by the window.
After just six months of catching the light from the window, every
nick nack had a shadow on the top that was permanently colored into
the wood. The TT dye faded that much in six months. Ouch!
He brought the table to me for ideas. We sanded off the the finish
completely on the top (the legs were fine) along with a generous
amount of wood. I matched the color with a mix of Behlen's NGR
Solalux on some left over planks from the project he had, and re-
dyed. When I finished, I shot the whole shebang with a coat of
No fading in about 3 years.
I don't use water based because I don't want warranty issues or
No such thing as too much information as far as woodworking and
Especially if the price is right! ;^)
On 4/2/2010 6:32 PM, email@example.com wrote:
No matter how it starts out, Mesquite almost always changes to a deep reddish
brown with age and exposure to light.
STAIN on Mesquite!? No client could _ever_ talk me into putting stain on
Serves her right for making such a ridiculous request.
Stop right there!
Oh no, NO!
Does this lady have any idea how gorgeous that table would have looked after
just six months _without_ that stain? Seriously, this is the first time I've
ever heard of anybody staining Mesquite. I know you and your buddy were just
doing what the client asked for (and a fine job you did, I'm sure), but damn!
See Nad. See Nad go. Go Nad!
To reply, eat the taco.
You are indeed much more highly principled than I am. I have been
self employed now for almost 30 years.... I am tired of the fight.
For me, no work is being out of a job, so I pick my fights carefully.
The truth actually is that I care more about my personal welfare than
their lack of good sense or taste. It's really that simple.
I guess I have been doing this too long. Over the years I have done a
lot of unpleasant things, but in my mind I figure that anyone that has
a job has done those things as well, it would just be harder for them
to see in their job.
My conversations go like this:
"Are you sure you want this piece of wood to be tinted? It will
darken over a period of time to a nice reddish glow."
When I ask that question, I hear two responses. Theirs and mine.
Mine: (Unspoken) Truck payment ($505 a month), truck maintenance,
tool expense, CPA tax expense, quarterly report expenses, annual
franchise tax, $300-$400 a month in gasoline, commercial address/
office use expense, commercial phone line,
expense for company promotions, cell phone bills, my monthly vendor
bills, commercial truck (Type III) insurance, computer/office supplies
expenses, the slow economy that has killed a lot of custom work, and
of course, the unexpected.....
Then there are the personal issues of stuff like food, house payment,
I have noticed that not one of my vendors/service providers likes to
be paid late.
My SPOKEN response: Are you sure?
Theirs: Yes Robert, we think so.
Mine: OK, I'll submit some samples if you are ready to commit.
I am sensing that you don't TOTALLY support you and yours with a
business that sell your craft efforts.... yes?
Well, I would have but the rest of the table would not have matched
The particular table in question was refinished for a good friend of
mine that builds furniture. He is one of the best craftsman I have
ever seen, and is a virtual hermit.
He is a crappy businessman, has no idea how to bid his work, had poor
people skills (*really* shy) and loves nothing better than to be alone
up all night working in his shop.
The good side of this guy is that he is as honest as the day is long,
maybe longer, can absolutely do anything with wood (he just finished
relief carving a 6' X 5' mural for a church depicting the settlement
of Texas), and he will help anyone with anything to do with wood if he
We get along because he is sure that good finishing is scientific.
Almost all of my background is in carpentry and woodworking of all
types, but since he does his own, we don't have anything but a mutual
interest there. He got my name years ago because he knew I did a
refinish project and made pink mahogany look like American Walnut a
few years ago. He was amazed. (It was dyed with a mix I made up of
three colors of Behlen's.)
He was fooled about what kind of wood it was. I was completely
flattered; this guy is <that> good. Since then I have made it a point
to show him some samples when I have a project and let him guess what
I did to the wood.
He is so bamboozled by finishing, he thinks I am some kind of guru. I
personally think that's hilarious, but again, really flattering coming
He gets a LOT of grief from me as he likes to swab Watco on things as
his finish. He is so sure that there is so much to learn about
finishing that he just won't do it. He is locked down on that
So when he made a mess of the finishing on this table, who would he
I am chuckling out loud still as I type this when I read that. I have
that little voice inside me now that I hear, but not very long or
loud. I like paying my bills waaay too much. Besides, it was for my
I have sprayed a lot of tint on mesquite to get it all uniform in
color. There for a while there was a lot of mesquite entry doors,
table tops, etc., being built, and the makers quit trying to match the
exact species. Honey mesquite almost looks like Chinaberry to me as
it is brownish, and doesn't turn red. It stays brown and looks almost
like a Hershey bar.
The Texas Agricultural Department says we have 5 (?) different kinds
of mesquite here, and each one is a different color of wood. Combine
that with the fact that the local soil conditions will color the wood
as well and you can have two pieces of mesquite that will never look
So it depends on what you have for material, and what the client
Those guys are around the corner from me, and I usually go to the
mesquite furniture builder's expo every year, and some of it doesn't
even look like mesquite to me.
I am in the piss poor habit of never taking any pictures. I don't
know why; I just never have. But the end product was TINTED not
stained with dye. It evened out the colors to where the differences
in the natural wood were still apparent, but not annoying.
In the end, the final product looked like a very muted Federalist/
brick red. The people were beyond thrilled.
I was paid. Louis was relieved. I got more work. Win/win.
Many years ago I got tired of being the starving artist. It didn't
last long with me.
I am NOT trying to sound preachy, here. But at this point I feel like
my personal philosophy is that they clients by my mechanical
expertise, not my taste buds. If they wind up happy, I get referrals
and more business based on my ability to deliver to the client what
So that's what I do.
That's the way I'd feel if I were writing the check--I think you are right
I would value your opinion too!
Most of the people who've shown up at my door (none yet in woodworking)
overly concerned with their watch and getting on to the next job. The
asked them to meet were a little higher than what they were aiming for
(example, the Comcast
people came by and started getting ready to drill holes in the floor--I
asked "aren't you
going to mount an outlet?". One of them to another: "He wants outlets". I
asked, well, isn't
that the right way?". He said, "Well, mounting outlets is the way to go if
you want to 'do it right' ".
To borrow a phrase I learned here, sheeeesh!!).
On Sat, 3 Apr 2010 15:35:53 -0700 (PDT), the infamous
Um, Naily, you're still mixed up. "Taste" (touchy/feely judgment),
not "taste buds" (thingies in your mouth), OK?
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change.
-- Charles Darwin
On 4/3/2010 2:53 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
<snipped lots of other sensible stuff>
Of course I knew all that, and I respect your stance. My confused disbelief
lies with the customer's request, not with you (or your buddy's) willingness to
You surmise correctly. :-)
I know. :-)
<snipped lots of other good stuff the "mysteries" of wood finishing>
As always Robert, I enjoy reading your stories. Perhaps I was just trolling a
bit so I'd have something good to read. :-)
Well I'm glad my little digs didn't trigger any wadded panties. I was just
havin' a little fun with the situation. :-)
The Chinaberries kinda remind me of Mesquite in that they grow like weeds
around these parts. I've never worked with it before, and I had no idea what
it looked like (and kinda assumed it would be trashy and uninteresting), but I
recently saw a bowl that somebody had turned from Chinaberry and I'm again
becoming mildly interested. Any more thoughts and insight?
You are right of course; not all Mesquites are created equal, and you would do
well to use lumber cut from the same tree or from trees grown in the same
general vicinity if you want a good color match for all the pieces. But in my
opinion it's ALL beautiful, and no artificial coloring is required (or desired!).
Yes, I've seen their furniture on display at the Mesquite Festival in
Fredricksburg, and I've been to their facilities in Seguin. I think my buddy
even bought some lumber from them during our visit. One of these days I'll
drive my Tundra back down there and see what I can find to haul back.
I seem to remember them saying that most of their furniture is sprayed with
conversion lacquer; do they use the same stuff you recommended to me? :
I ordered two quarts (one satin, one gloss) and I've done some minor tests with
it (and have been suitably impressed), but I've yet to use it on any real
Yep, that all makes sense. It just seems odd to me that anyone would seek out
something made of Mesquite then ask to have it colored. It's one of those
woods that you don't see very often in mainstream situations because it's
expensive and hard to find in large quantities of good clear lumber. So to
know that you want something made from it almost certainly means that you've
_seen_ it in the real world and said to yourself "DAMN, that stuff is
gorgeous!". Why anyone would want to COLOR it after having that religious
experience is beyond my comprehension...
See Nad. See Nad go. Go Nad!
To reply, eat the taco.
I don't like it. Not one bit. As a fellow Texan, you know that
mesquite is one of the only furniture grade woods that grow well in
our state. There are others, but mesquite is my favorite. I don't
like putting anything on it but a bit of oil then top coat, or just
clear coat (my favorite) and let it age itself.
AHA!! I knew it. It was a shot fired from the peanut
Nah.... never took it wrong. I was thinking about it, though...
I have lived two lifetimes of disappointment with some of the things I
don't like but have to accept. Buying tools made somewhere other than
the USA (this really ground my teeth for years), the fact the USA has
trouble making a good pocket knife (this isn't a joke...) and the fact
that good cigars doubled and tripled in price in the 80s. Also, the
fact that trucks are now really odd shaped cars.
Then of course, there are those folks that insist on staining curly
Maple to look like walnut, staining mahogany to look like walnut
(think entry doors), staining white/red oak or birch with "golden oak/
piss", etc. Worse, toner in the finish. Pet peeve of mine.
I have seen some really pretty bowls turned from it too, but not from
my lathe. My personal experience is too much tear out, and it splits
like crazy. I have a couple of small logs that will be split soon to
go into the fireplace next year. It is really pretty when finished
well, but too much work.
I don't think so, but it might be. I thought they were shooting some
of that newer high performance stuff from SW, but that might not be
The real beauty to that stuff to me is the ability to shoot it on, go
get a cup of coffee and return a couple of calls, then shoot another
coat. In the summer, a coat every 20 - 30 minutes until you get the
And as hard as it dries, I like it on everything. I use other
products, but when a kitchen comes up or a group of doors, I call
I'm with you all the way.
It is an entirely pleasurable wood to work with for me. I even like
some of the wind shake defects, and I fill them in with epoxy colored
with copier/laser printer toner.
Now if you want to know what some real fun is, mount it on the lathe.
Wow. Almost no tear out, stable enough that turning it green is
perfect (no fun to turn when cured - too hard) for hollowing.
I have made bowls, oil lamps, gavels, mallets, Christmas ornaments,
desk clocks, etc. out of it on the lathe and it is by far and away my
favorite wood to turn and finish.
On 04/07/2010 02:32 AM, email@example.com wrote:
Ah. Then unless somebody plops some free Chinaberry off at my doorstep I
bother looking for any.
Yes, I recently turned several mallets from Mesquite and it was great fun; the
stuff is just
flat-out gorgeous. All the wood I used was fully dried and the hardness didn't
bother me; in fact, when using hand tools I've found cured Mesquite much easier
to work with
than Sugar Maple, even though it's almost twice as hard. I've never turned any
Mesquite; I may have to try that.
"Our beer goes through thousands of quality Czechs every day."
(From a Shiner Bock billboard I saw in Austin some years ago)
Ugh - Staining Mesquite is like using acid and brushes to take off the
patina of 100 years from a bronze figure in a pond - really rich folk.
They wanted bright metal - not golden and green.
Steve Turner wrote:
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