Using dyes on turned pieces #1: Why try dye

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by jeffthewoodwacker posted 06-02-2009 05:33 PM 1416 reads 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Using dyes on turned pieces series Part 2: Finished! »

I turned this hollow form from a piece of silver maple that was cut down 30 days ago. The turning was done start to finish all in one day – a uniform wall thickness of 1/4” inch and no pith resulted in very little movement of the wood. After living in a brown paper bag for the last 30 days the piece managed to escape and found itself attached to my vacuum chuck and got sanded all the way to 400 grit. Since this piece had very little character as it was I decided to apply alcohol based anilene dye. There are many techniques to this process and I use some of those processes when I dye a piece. This is what the hollow form looks like after being sanded and after having a bath in Klean Strip Wood Bleach.

After the wood bleach bath I let the piece dry overnight and use a vinegar/water solution to neutralize the wood bleach. I allow that to dry, sand back to 400 grit and let it sit for a couple of hours. I will start with a green dye on this piece, and then apply a blue dye followed by a yellow dye. Before the first coat of dye I wipe the entire surface of the hollow form with denatured alcohol – this will raise the grain enough to accept the dye.
As soon as I have wiped down the vessel with the alcohol I flash it off with a lighter. Now for the first coat of green dye. This is what the hollow form looks like with just one coat of green dye applied.

I flash the coat of green dye with a lighter, sanded it lightly with 1000 grit paper and then applied a coat of blue dye and flashed that off with a lighter.

Before I apply the yellow dye I will sand this piece lightly with 1000 grit paper. The final finish will be several coats of high gloss wipe on poly. More to come on this project.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

9 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35300 posts in 5860 days

#1 posted 06-02-2009 05:37 PM

Jeff: I love the trail of work that you have done in this item.

First picture is missing.

Jeff I noticed in the top view of the green version you hadn’t put dye on the inside. Did you skip the green and then go directly to blue?

-- 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 a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5037 days

#2 posted 06-02-2009 05:41 PM

Very nice Jeff looks great and interesting blog. I guessing the dye was alcohol base that’s how you flash it over. I was wondering what purpose this served and does this mean you can’t use water base dyes.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4794 days

#3 posted 06-02-2009 08:55 PM

Interesting blog and nice turning Jeff. Like Karson, I would like to know why you are flashing the piece.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 5188 days

#4 posted 06-02-2009 09:52 PM

I’m looking forward to the rest of this process. To be honest, I was partial to the vibrant green, but I’ve seen some cool effects with layering colors so I’ll hold judgment for now! :-P thanks for posting this process. It is really interesting. I’d like to try messing with some RIT waterbased dyes.

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 4850 days

#5 posted 06-02-2009 10:28 PM

Good work Jeff! I like your spirit of adventure.

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 5045 days

#6 posted 06-02-2009 11:10 PM

It’s hard sometimes to create something nicer than God’s creation of bare wood,But I think your working hard at it keep the work up you’re getting close my opinion Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View cabinetmaster's profile


10872 posts in 5018 days

#7 posted 06-03-2009 02:43 AM

NEATO…................ I like what I am seeing. Can’t wait to see the finished project.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 5264 days

#8 posted 06-04-2009 01:27 AM

I will try and answer some of the questions that have been asked about his piece. I don’t put dye on the inside of a piece until after the first coat has been applied to the outside and is dry. For this piece the first coat was green, then I washed the piece with blue dye and put blue dye on the inside of the piece. As soon as I apply a coat of alcohol based dye I immediately flash it off with a butane lighter. Several articles have been written about this process and if anyone is interested in the details send me a pm and I will send you more information. To keep it simple the flashing off sets the dye, dries it quicker and opens the wood fibers to accept the second coat of dye. I do demonstrations and this always gets the wow factor going from observers. Do not attempt this unless you have thoroughly cleaned your work area of debris and always have a fire extinguisher handy. I only flash off the alcohol based dyes. The piece is setting on the workbench waiting for the next application of dye – I am working on this in between a couple of other commissioned pieces that need to go out. Thanks for all the comments and questions.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 5264 days

#9 posted 06-04-2009 01:29 AM

Karson, thanks for the catch on the missing photo – I have fixed that.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics