Best Wood for Dyes

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by TTH posted 11-20-2020 08:22 PM 448 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TTH's profile


32 posts in 642 days

11-20-2020 08:22 PM

I’m planning to make a wall sign for my father in law’s mancave/pool room.

My idea is to have the letters raised about 1/8” from the wood and gilded with gold leaf and the wood will be dyed dark blue. Planning to use the water-based dye stain from General Finishes from Rockler.

I don’t normally stain projects, so I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to stain. I was probably going to use some plainsawn white oak because I’ve got a bunch of it sitting around the shop, but I thought that before I did I better check in to make sure I’m not making a terrible mistake.

Appreciate any expertise you folks don’t mind dropping on me.

-- Travis, DFW

3 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7359 posts in 3830 days

#1 posted 11-21-2020 05:08 PM

My first thought is that oak has a pronounced grain that is hard to hide, maybe impossible with a dye. That doesn’t matter if you want the grain to show. But I don’t see any problem with using the white oak otherwise. You will want to test the dye on a piece of scrap to see if it’s the dark blue you seek.

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

View CaptainKlutz's profile


5164 posts in 2831 days

#2 posted 11-21-2020 11:33 PM

It is really hard to make a true dark blue DYED wood. :-(

Challenge is the ‘color’ of wood is going to shift color. Yellow woods shift towards green, beige woods shift towards brown/gray. Best wood is whitest wood you can find. Holly is whitest. Some maple’s are white enough to work Ok. Open pore woods like Oak with dark pores tend to shift color towards blue grey, but can be dyed to make a decent medium blue.

All you can do is test your dye and wood to learn what happens, and if you like the results.
So not matter what you read on internet, test, test and re-test your entire finish schedule using it on project.

FWIW – Not all dye stains are same.
Not a fan of GF dye stains, especially the blue. GF dye stains are combination of pigment and some dye. The blue creates a very weak/pale blue; and is disappointing sky blue color on white woods as they don’t absorb the pigment portion of stain like open grain Oak can.

If you sand the surface of wood past 150/180 grit, it also reduces the amount of color absorbed, making the color even lighter color.

If you want a dark true blue, need to use a 100% dye stain (no pigment), such as Transtint liquids. Then you can adjust the dilution level easier, and have better control on the final color.
Making dark basic colors like red, blue, yellow, green, or purple with Transtint requires a lower dilution level than normally suggested by mfg. The normal suggestion is 1oz in 1qt of solvent. IME, need 1oz in 1 pint of solvent to make the basic colors dark. To make dark ‘blood’ red, had to use 1oz dye in 12oz of solvent, or add some black dye get darker color. This lower dilution level makes large projects more expensive too.

One more tip:
Water based (WB) dye stains create an additional challenge for dark basic colors. The water raises the grain, and requires sanding to remove. On many woods, the natural tannin’s prevent deep absorption of dyes into fibers. So when you sand off the fuzz, you get white spots in the surface finish where ends are exposed. If you apply more WB dye to color them, you get more raised fibers and darker color. It becomes a vicious circle that creates a muddy dark color by time all white is gone. Due this, highly suggest use of 50/50 acetone/alcohol NGR solvent blend with any dye stain to avoid white spots.

Raised fibers from WB is also why I use Mohawk Ultra-pentrating dye stains, they use a Non-Grain Raising solvent blend, and reduce sanding required after adding color. That said, the Mohawk blue dye stain is also a weak blue color. Which is why when making basic colors I always use Transtint.

YMMV, and Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Foghorn's profile


1418 posts in 724 days

#3 posted 11-23-2020 12:08 AM

This was with a Mohawk dye on spruce that was sprayed on as rubbing gets blotchy real quick on spruce. It was followed up by a clear Mohawk lacquer. You need a good gun that doesn’t spit.

-- Darrel

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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