Has anyone tried using watercolors (from a tube) to make a wood stain?
I want to try this on some butternut samples and wondered how this can
be done. The watercolor from the tubes are thick. Would this only
work diluted with water?
Ahhhh... an interesting finishing question!
Phish: I can tell you what has been in some of my refinishing
threads, and maybe this would help.
Some of the boys in the refinishing world like the latex artists
colors because they have so many tints and colors readily available.
This makes color matching easier. Personally, I still like to color
match by mixing, but to each their own preference.
The guys that like the artists colors use water, and alcohol to mix
them thin enough to apply. They liked the store bought alcohol, not
Remember isopropyl usually is 30 - 50% water, so you have water in the
mix without adding it from the tap.
I think the artists colors (tube stuff) make great colors for touch up
or repairs, but some guys have actually refinished entire pieces with
The one thing I can tell you is that when I encouraged a couple of the
members of our woodturning group to try the artist's colors, I forgot
to tell them to put a conditioner on their pieces first. OOOPS.....
(boy do those guys need to learn to sand properly... !! )
Anyway, their projects turned out quite blotchy. They weren't too
upset in the end as the fix turned out a beautiful product. With the
blotchy finish on, I had them apply the same consistency of mixture in
black. (Hey... in for a dime, in for a dollar!). Then I had them
sand all off almost all of the color, and leaves the blotches. The
blotches were actually grain swirls that weren't sanded or cut smooth.
A conditioner was applied. THEN the artist color stain was applied.
It was lightly buffed with a piece of painters lintless cloth
(available at the Borg). Then four or five coats of spray lacquer, the
buffed out on a Beall system.
It looked like a blood red Merlot colored piece of marble. After they
got all their compliments on their "expert finish", all was forgotten
about the panicky conversations of how their projects were "ruined".
I can't take credit for it. Double dyeing is actually a common
technique in upper end finishing. It is a direct relative of glazing,
except on a larger scope.
So; sand well. Seal with conditioner. Stain with your colors that
are thinned just beyond paste. DO NOT let them dry out on your
project. Remove them when you see them starting to get just a bit
thick on the wood. This may take a couple of minutes or just a few
seconds. You will need to adjust your color by restaining, not more
time on the project (as with oil based stains).
The colorants go quite well with lacquers, but I wouldn't get too
aggressive about brushing it if that is your top coat. You will
probably lift off the stain with your brush or pad.
At the very least, spray out a first coat of your finish, not matter
what it is (even from a rattle can) on the dyed project so you can set
the color and finish together.
As always, to get the protocols down to your liking to get the desired
results, practice on a scrap.
If you do this, post back and let us know what you think!
Well, there are lots of water-soluble tints and dyes so that's not the
I've not tried artists' water colors specifically so can't comment on
what (if anything) is unique in their formulation as compared to the
commercially available dyes/tints.
I can't lay my hands on it just now but there was a good article in FWW
--oh, let's just google...ah, here's the link
It's from FWW #114 by Chris Minck a professional finishes chemist so he
knows of which he speaketh when it comes to the ins and outs of what
makes up wood finishes.
If you have a library that has a subscription would be great, altho it
po's me that Taunton has gone to the pay for view model for all their
website articles, might be worth it if one is really interested in
trying out something.
OTOH, go to the TransTint page and follow their usage indications and
experiment. Only real problem I could foresee is they might not be as
UV resistant as those pigments specifically formulated for woodworking.
But, then again, most expect art work to last indefinitely as well.
Besides Robert's pointers and my other posting there's one other great
resource I'd point out -- Jeff Jewitt, owner of Homestead Finishing
Products, the TransTint manufacturing folks and oft-times contributor to
FWW on finishing and also does seminars/appearances and so.
His Taunton book is, imo, one of the best out there for all-around
covering the usage of finishing products to achieve most any effect. I
don't buy many but did his and have never regretted it...
Again, if you're exceptionally lucky in what local library will get,
maybe...here's link to it from Taunton--
For most basic of info Jeff has on using the water-based dyes/tints that
essentially covers the points Robert made, look here--
Again, if you try the artists' watercolors you'll have to experiment
some but the basics Jeff covers of using water-soluble tints/dyes will
be pretty similar. I don't know how well the alcohol works w/ artists'
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