Show Off Figure with Dye
Fine-tune the result
If the tone looks darker than you planned, it's best to lighten it immediately. See the basic technique in the photo right.
In extreme cases, when the result is far from what you expected, it's possible to return to the starting point. Lighten the dye with water, and then remove the rest of it from the wood with common household bleach containing chlorine.
If you want to darken the result of your initial dye application, do so with another coat of the same mixture or make a stronger batch and apply that.
Once you become familiar with dyes and the colors they produce, experiment with color adjustment. After dyeing a surface, add a different-color dye to produce a combination of the two. For example, apply red to warm up a cool wood-tone color or add blue to cool down a warm tone.
When the color looks perfect, let the dye dry completely. Drying dulls the appearance of a dyed surface; a clear topcoat restores the color and shine that you saw in the wet dye. Use any topcoat over dye, but be careful if you choose a water-based finish. Brushing water-base over water-soluble dye tends to redissolve the dye and pull it up into the finish, creating a muddy look. Spraying eliminates this problem.
If you decide to try alcohol-soluble dyes, keep these pointers in mind:
- Mix them in denatured alcohol -- not rubbing, or isopropyl, alcohol -- available at hardware stores and home centers. DO NOT heat this flammable solvent.
- Spray alcohol-soluble dyes to avoid streaking caused by the solvent quickly flashing off. Use a spray gun powered by compressed air or handle small jobs with a unit such as the Preval spray system. Available at home centers, it consists of a 6"-long pressurized sprayer and a detachable glass jar. Order it online by going to dickblick.com.
- To color pine, a notoriously blotchy wood, Steve Mickley recommends mixing alcohol-soluble dye with shellac and spraying this toner mixture on the surface. The tinted shellac forms a film on the wood instead of soaking in.
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