General Finishes Amber Water Based Dye Stain not drying?

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Forum topic by Squints2See posted 07-01-2020 01:01 PM 589 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 515 days

07-01-2020 01:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: stain finishing dye walnut veneer shellac


I am finishing a sub-woofer box I built with a veneered walnut front. To start from the beginning, I really wanted and therefore tried to finish it with Zennser’s Bullseye Amber Shellac (not de-waxed). I cut it in half with denatured alcohol and tried the padding method. I could not get a consistent finish that I was happy with. Because the box is so big and it would dry on me so fast I gave up on the shellac. I have used shellac before successfully but never on a piece this big.

So in order to get a similar look I found the General Finishes amber water based dye stain and it gives a very similar color to the amber shellac. So I did a combination of wiping down the veneer with denatured alcohol and performed multiple sandings back down to 150 grit until all traces of the shellac were gone (or at least I thought I did).

I then worked back up to 220 grit, cleaned the surface and applied the dye stain. It has been 2 1/2 days and it seems fine to the touch, however if I take a clean shop paper towel and do a semi-firm rub down on the surface I can see very light traces of the amber coming off onto the paper towel. This is being performed in my air conditioned basement so it is not humid and the temps are probably in the mid to upper 60’s.

My plan is to now apply an oil based stain over top to get the final color I want, and then apply a few coats of Arm R Seal. From what the can said I should have been able to apply an oil based stain after 24 hours. I am not sure if this is normal to have a small amount of residual color show up on a rag when wiping a dye stain or if it is not drying for some reason. I made sure to wipe it down good after about 5 minutes when I applied it.

I am not sure whether to move forward at this point or if there is a problem how to fix it. I don’t believe sanding is an option at this point as I am pretty sure I am near the end of the veneer and will be into the MDF if I go much further. Is it possible that there could be minuet traces of shellac/wax in the pores that are keeping it from fully drying?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

4 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7289 posts in 3775 days

#1 posted 07-01-2020 01:34 PM

The GF dye doesn’t have any binders in it, the coloration you saw on the towel was normal. Most stains will have some amount of binder, generally a small amount of varnish, to lock it in place….dyes normally don’t. So I don’t think you have a problem. If you top coat the GF dye with an oil, based finish such as Arm R seal, you might see a small amount of the dye come off, but ti should be just fine. I wouldn’t use an oil based stain over the top of the GF dye either. So the dye is fine (and dry), test your ARS on a small are on the bottom and see if you are happy with the look…go from there.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Squints2See's profile


2 posts in 515 days

#2 posted 07-02-2020 01:28 AM

Thanks for the response Fred. Any particular reason I shouldn’t use an oil-based stain over the GF dye? The can said it was Ok to do but to wait at least 24 hours. Also, do I need to do a light sanding to knock the grain back down (I thought I read somewhere that the water based dye would raise the grain)?


View Lazyman's profile


8193 posts in 2669 days

#3 posted 07-02-2020 02:35 AM

If I remember correctly, GF’s website says that unless the instructions specifically say you cannot do something, all of their finishing products are compatible with each other.

Water based finishes can raise the grain so it is best to sand to 220, wipe it down with water to pre-raise the grain and then sand again. This will minimize how much a water based dye or stain raises the grain. If the grain is raised after applying a water based stain or dye, a light sanding may be a good idea to get a smooth surface before you apply varnish or other top coats. Just be careful not to sand through your stain or dye. Whatever you do, test the complete finishing regimen on a piece of scrap of the same wood or on the inside our underside if you don’t have one.

EDIT: I just noticed that you are using a veneer. Most of them are very thin so you really have to be careful not to sand through them.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7289 posts in 3775 days

#4 posted 07-02-2020 10:34 AM

You can apply the oil based stain over the dye if you want. As for grain raising, wait until you apply the first coat of finish and let it dry. That locks the raised fibers in place. Then sand it back to smooth and proceed.A lot easier and no worry about sanding through the veneer, or removing color from your dyes/stains.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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