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Aniline Dyes

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For use, stir the dye powder into hot water, as shown left. (Don't mix it in boiling water; straight hot tap water works fine.) Rubber gloves will keep you from having fancy-colored fingertips. The standard concentration is 1 oz. of powder to 1 qt. of water. To mix smaller amounts, dissolve about 1/4 tsp. of powder into 8 oz. of water; about 1/8 tsp. into 4 oz. From this starting point, you can adjust the dye color to suit your taste. Just add more water to reduce color intensity, or add dye powder to increase it. After mixing, let the dye cool. Then strain the solution through a coffee filter or nylon stocking, as shown at left, before applying it to the wood. Label the aniline dye containers.


Tips on dyeing the wood Sand the project as you would for staining or clear finishing. Do not seal or fill the wood; it must absorb the dye. Put on the dye by any convenient means--brushing, wiping, spraying, or dipping. You don't need top-quality brushes to apply aniline dyes. We found that inexpensive foam brushes work just great. The easiest application method calls for two brushes. Paint on the dye with one brush, keeping the work surface wet, as shown. Wipe away any excess with another brush. Dye strength controls the color, so you don't need to worry about uneven coats. We found that brush marks and laps posed no problem. If we kept the surface uniformly wet, the color invariably came out smooth and even. Allow the first application to dry 24 hours. The water-based dye raises the wood grain, so sand away the fuzz with 320-grit abrasive. Clean off the sanding dust, and dye the wood again. Let this application dry, then buff the surface with a white Scotch-Brite pad. You can apply any clear finish to the dyed wood.

If you like this project, please check out more than 1,000 shop-proven paper and downloadable woodworking project plans in the WOOD Store.

For more indepth information on finishing, visit the Finishing and Refinishing Techniques section within the WOOD Store.


Comments (7)
maranathatds wrote:

I discovered that when using Solarez UV Finish, if you first use Alcohol/Acetone Soluble Aniline dyes, and then apply their sealer, that when wiping off the excess sealer, (as recommended) most of the Dye will come off with it. No problem whatsoever when first using W/B anilines, be warned. Gb bg

11/13/2015 08:45:30 PM Report Abuse
jspector3 wrote:

When I used to have to match a finish on an antique, I'd start with an aniline dye dissolved in alcohol. Then I would apply oil with or without pigment. Then I would sometimes add pigment to a sealer or finish coat. But I like the way wood and finishes age. It takes practice to avoid really screwing up your finishes, but if you're successful, you get a richer look.

2/3/2011 04:06:19 PM Report Abuse
gbnorby wrote:

I was given a grandfather clock kit partially finished. The stain is on it and it has been there a long time. I tried stripper and it is lighter, but is still there.

7/2/2010 11:46:16 AM Report Abuse
eddydcmail-shop wrote:

If you wiped off the excess pretty soon, you should be able to sand it out without much trouble.

7/1/2010 06:51:54 PM Report Abuse
gbnorby wrote:

Some dye got spilled on a project. how do I get it off?

7/1/2010 02:58:34 PM Report Abuse
sololupo wrote:

You have to be careful with the finish you use over the dye. Do not use a finish with the same base that you mixed the dye with. For example, if using the dye mixed with alcohol, then use a water based finish.

7/1/2010 11:20:45 AM Report Abuse
guang_rui wrote:

I've completely left stains for dyes. Not mentioned in the above article is that dyes have smaller colorant particles than stains so they work better with difficult to stain woods like poplar or maple. I mix my dyes with alcohol which dries faster and raises the grain less though I also spray rather than brushing.

1/7/2010 05:56:49 AM Report Abuse

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