Can I prevent padauk's color from fading?
The model car plans I'm using suggest padauk for its red-orange color. But the salesperson at the hardwood store said that it will darken to almost black. Is this true? I'd rather have the red-orange.
—Ralph Wolfe, Olympia, Wash.
Unfortunately, Ralph, nearly all brightly colored woods, including padauk, will change colors fairly quickly after machining. Padauk turns a deep-brown color with only hints of its red-orange core. Even finish barely slows the color change. Ask your hardwood dealer for Chakte Viga (Caesalpinia platyloba). Though it, too, will darken over time, this Latin American wood retains its red-orange color longer than padauk. If you'd prefer to move to the red side of the spectrum, consider bloodwood (Brosimum paraense). Bloodwood retains some of its deep-red character as it darkens to a rich brown.
For locking in a desired color, however, look into dyes. Our recipe for brilliantly colored toy finishes from the September 2006 issue (issue 164, page 26) consists of water-soluble TransFast (homesteadfinishing.com, 216-631-5309) or W. D. Lockwood dyes (wdlockwood.com, 866-293-8913) added to a water-based gloss finish. Apply the tinted water-based finish as you would any clear finish. The great thing about dyes: They work well on less-expensive, light-colored domestic woods, like maple or birch, and you can mix your own custom-colored finish.