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Show Off Figure with Dye

Quilted maple and other figured woods gain depth as well as brilliant color when you choose this type of stain. Here's everything you need to know for success.

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Starting off

Starting off

If you've used commonly available, premixed canned stains for years with good success, you may be wondering "Why use dyes? Who needs 'em?" Well, you may. Compared to pigmented stains and pigment/dye mixes -- what you typically find on hardware store shelves -- dye produces a clearer appearance that shows off the grain much better. The difference really stands out when you dye dense wood that doesn't accept stain well or figured wood, such as curly maple. Stain tends to create a bland look on figured wood, while dye gives the surface an attractive undulating appearance. See the photo right for examples, of coloring curly maple.

Stains and dyes produce different looks because they color wood in different ways. Pure pigment stains only partially penetrate the wood, doing most of their coloring by lodging in tiny surface cracks and pores. If the wood is dense and smooth, like maple, pigment particles find few places to rest. Gel stains are thicker than standard stains and form a film on the surface with very little penetration. They prevent blotchiness but also obscure the grain. Dye, however, dissolves completely in its solvent, goes wherever the solvent can penetrate, and actually changes the color of wood cells. It allows the grain to clearly show through. Some stains contain both dye and pigment, but the combination doesn't solve the problems presented by dense woods.

Continued on page 2:  Consider your dye options


Comments (5)
moonlightcreati wrote:

I use dyes on everything I spray. I put the liquid Transtint the dye in the gallon of mixed lacquer.

11/24/2013 07:46:12 PM Report Abuse
3-j wrote:

Raising grain is anti-intuitive and plainly does nothing but waste time and wood. Any time moisture is applied to wood, grain will be raised. What to do?? Simply dye the wood and add your first finish coat. Then you can sand smooth the surface for the last finish coats.

9/17/2010 10:32:59 AM Report Abuse
wneild wrote:

I have used the liquid Transtint dyes on several QSWO projects followed with 2-3 coats of a wipe on finish. The results are stunning.

9/16/2010 01:18:29 PM Report Abuse
bobgusty365771 wrote:

I recently finished a cabinet using dye on hickory face and door frames for a customer. A couple comments: 1. Using dye does increase finishing time quite a bit, 2. Even applying water to raise grain did not eliminate the raised grain from applying the water soluble dye, 3. applying water based final finish helped level out traces of laps or uneven application of the dye.

7/2/2010 09:30:45 AM Report Abuse
rxeagle wrote:

Very informative. Wish that I had seen this before I started using dye. The info on grain raise was very interesting. I have used bright colors and they worked very well.

7/1/2010 11:29:08 AM Report Abuse

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