Give dye a try
Mixing and applying dyes
Unlike pigmented stains, dyes come as concentrates (powders or liquids) that must be mixed with a solvent (usually water or alcohol) before application. Fortunately, mixing them is surprisingly easy.
If you're new to dyes, start with a water-soluble concentrate, such as Lockwood (866-293-8913, wdlockwood.com) or Transtint (216-631-5309, homesteadfinishingproducts.com). With a longer open time, water-soluble dyes offer a more forgiving application than alcohol-soluble dyes. Because they penetrate the farthest into grain, they are the most color-fast dye options. And they come in premeasured amounts to get the ratio perfect. Wear a dust mask to avoid breathing in any powder, and follow the directions, on next slide, to mix.
As with any finish, test the dye first on a scrap of wood from your project before applying, following these steps: First, sand to 220 grit. Next, to avoid raising the grain during dyeing with a water-soluble dye, pre-raise the grain by wiping it with a water-moistened sponge or cloth. Allow the wood to dry completely before sanding one last time with 320-grit paper.
Brush or wipe on dye with a foam brush or rag, using enough of the solution to keep a wet edge between your brush strokes. Then wipe away the excess with a cloth. If you prefer a darker look, simply allow the first coat to dry before adding another coat. Too dark? Lighten the coloring by wiping the dye with a rag dampened in the appropriate solvent. This works best while the dye is still wet, but because dye stains contain no binder, you can lighten the color slightly even after the dye has dried.
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