Trouble after dying maple

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Forum topic by cpbuck posted 01-06-2019 07:00 PM 470 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 640 days

01-06-2019 07:00 PM

Hi all, I am finishing the base of a table which is made of maple. I am using general finishes dark brown dye. The first coat went well but after the second coat, the dye almost looks “caked” on in the areas. It’s like spotty, different than splotching I think. It looks like it dried spots of stain. The grain isnt visiable. My test pieces went well which is frustrating.

How hard would it be to sand the dye and then use a shellac toner to get the color I want? I’d do a test piece first. Is it a bad idea to try to sand it?

6 replies so far

View LesB's profile


2151 posts in 3892 days

#1 posted 01-06-2019 07:11 PM

Woods like maple and pine can be hard to stain without sealing them first. Zinsser’s seal coat…..which is a 2# cut clear de-waxed shellac. Sanding out the stain may be a problem but you can take out as much as you can and it may lighted the “caked” areas. Then I think a colored shellac is a good idea on maple. Start the color light and add additional layers to get the final color you want. Be aware that shellac is alcohol based, drys quickly (in minutes) and each new layer dissolves into the previous layer so work quickly and don’t over brush. I found using a soft cloth and wiping the shellac on worked best….wear a glove.
I just had to go through that very procedure for the interior pine wood framing on a sun room. I just used the natural amber colored shellac (2 coats to get the color I wanted) with a top coat of varathane. It came out great.

Depending on what the project is being used for you may want to put a top coat of varnish or varathane…...that is why a de-waxed shellac is necessary otherwise the top coats may not stick well.

-- Les B, Oregon

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14 posts in 640 days

#2 posted 01-06-2019 07:19 PM

Thanks! I did use Charles Neil’s blotch control. The first coat looked great just not dark enough. My thought was to sand back the wood to even it all out not necessarily take all the color out.

View Phil32's profile


598 posts in 353 days

#3 posted 01-07-2019 04:16 AM

A photo would be worth a thousand words. You did not say if this is smooth, straight grained maple or figured, wavy, quilted, birds-eye, or burl. The cause and cure could be very different. With any of the latter maple grains the penetration and spread of dye or stain would be very unpredictable.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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2495 posts in 4320 days

#4 posted 01-07-2019 02:16 PM

yep need a photo
How long did you wait between coats ?
How long did you leave the second coat stit before wiping back ?

View cpbuck's profile


14 posts in 640 days

#5 posted 01-07-2019 03:12 PM

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good photo that showed the issue. I am not sure if there wasn’t enough light in my shop. Here is a photo of the base without dye. Usually I am my hardest critic when it comes to my work but even my wife agreed that I needed to sand it off and start over.

The wood is smooth straight grained maple with no figure.

I waited two hours between the two coats. The wood was dry to the touch. My shop is heated.

Full disclosure, this is my first time using dyes. I applied the dye using my Earlex 5500 HVLP laying it on pretty wet. It took me a few minutes to get around the whole table base. Then I went back to where I started and wiped back the excess. My original idea was to spray it on pretty light and not wipe it back but during my test pieces I couldn’t get the hvlp to spray a light enough coat that didn’t require wiping back.

The first coat went well but the second coat almost looks like it dried on the surface before I could wipe it off.

Would applying it by hand be a better idea? I can dye it in segments to avoid it drying to quickly.

I am going to use General Finished Clear Poly as the top coat. I could do a single coat of dye, and then try a toner if I want to get it darker.

View OSU55's profile


2380 posts in 2439 days

#6 posted 01-07-2019 04:02 PM

I suspect you are right that the dye dried before you wiped it back. I would try wiping it down with a solvent for the dye product rather than sanding. Dont know if you used a wb or solvent dye, but it probably has some solids content. Using the proper solvent you can wipe some off and blend it.

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