A new dining room set for my wife! #15: Sanding is the pits! Here's something unusual I plan on doing.

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Blog entry by GaryK posted 05-06-2011 12:59 AM 2451 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: Let's see, where was I. Oh, yea! Let's finish the legs! Part 15 of A new dining room set for my wife! series Part 16: Front legs are finally done! Now on the the back ones, again! »

First of all some good news. I have finished sanding 3 legs so far! 13 to go :-)

Next I want to let you know what I am going to do after I finish sanding them.

I am going to put the finish on them. I have done this before so it’s not a concern to me.

I just wanted to show something that will probably be new to some of you.

I always use a water based dye rather than a stain. This actually soaks into the wood fibers and when dry is just like you never dyed it.

To prove my point I have dyed a part of this piece of wood and glued two pieces of wood to it. I just sanded off the raised grain after I dyed.

Then first I tried to pull the pieces off and they both broke off at the edge exactly the same.

Then using another piece of wood and a hammer I tried to knock the wood off. As you can see from the pictures to wood gave way and not the glue joint.

I plan on doing this to all the parts before assembly. Now I’m not going to actually dye the tenons or inside mortises. That will just waste dye.

I am going to do this for two reasons.

The first is that it will be so much easier to do single pieces than a completed chair. I will get all the parts wet first to raise the grain and then give them a light sanding to knock it off.

Secondly I won’t have to worry about cleaning out glue squeeze out nearly as much. I would have to pay real close attention to the glue since it will prevent the dye from soaking in.

I am even considering putting on the first coat of water based poly before assembly. I will be doing some tests before actually committing. We shall see.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

10 comments so far

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4220 days

#1 posted 05-06-2011 01:09 AM

Interresting info.


-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Jeff's profile


116 posts in 4200 days

#2 posted 05-06-2011 01:41 AM

The ‘glue after stain’ test is appreciated. I always wondered about that, and can see how it would be convenient in some applications.

-- Jeff

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5274 days

#3 posted 05-06-2011 01:51 AM

Jeff - It’s DYE not stain.

There’s a big difference. I wouldn’t try it with stain.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View bigkev's profile


198 posts in 3914 days

#4 posted 05-06-2011 02:07 AM

I’ve been following this project and it is great. I appreciate folks like you sharing your knowledge and helping others like myself learn. I know that it takes up precious time to sit at the computer and share. I am curious about the dye though. When you apply the dye, does it raise the grain? If so, do you knock it down and if so how does that affect the appearance? I’m not questionioning your process, I’m just trying to learn something.

-- Kevin, South Carolina

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5686 days

#5 posted 05-06-2011 02:12 AM

Very nice Gary.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5107 days

#6 posted 05-06-2011 11:47 AM

Kevin, with respect to your question the answer is that a water base dye does raise the grain. That is why Gary commented that he pre-wet the parts first to raise the grain and then lightly sanded before applying the dye. After the initial grain raising additional exposure to water will not affect the surface of the wood so that is why the grain is raised initially. If this step were omitted then the application of a water base dye would raise the grain and need to be lightly sanded to remove the wood fibers. But since this is only a light sanding it should not affect the appearance of the dyed wood surface unless the sanding got too aggressive.

When I am adding dye or stain to a piece I will stop sanding at 150 grit. For a water base dye, such as Gary is using, I would then mist the wood and let it dry. When the wood is dry (about an hour) do a light sanding with 150 grit to remove the “fuzz”, dust it off and the wood is ready for application of the dye.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View bigkev's profile


198 posts in 3914 days

#7 posted 05-06-2011 12:10 PM

Thanks Scott. For some reason I didn’t see the last part of Gary’s post and I was under the impression that he was dying it first and then sanding the “fuzz” off. I appreciate your input and clarification. I’ve never used dye but may have to give it a try.

-- Kevin, South Carolina

View Tony's profile


995 posts in 5316 days

#8 posted 05-06-2011 06:32 PM

Great idea on pre-finishing (first protection) the individual parts and it does make life a lot easier, especially when dying or staining the wood, you will get a much more even color and squeeze-out is not such a big problem (as you stated)

Keep up the good work.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View JuniorJoiner's profile


497 posts in 4726 days

#9 posted 05-06-2011 09:08 PM

Since school, I always finish before glue-up. a good trick is to do a dry assembly and to wax around the fully seated joint. that way any glue squeeze out just pops off.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Ken90712's profile


18081 posts in 4474 days

#10 posted 05-11-2011 10:48 AM

Great info!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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