Trying a water-based dye stain. Advice or tips? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 19 Old 11-22-2009, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Trying a water-based dye stain. Advice or tips?

So, I'm going to try a water-based stain for the first time on a birch end table. The can says, "General Finishes Light Brown Water Based Dye Stain."

How fine should I sand? How should I treat the end grain? What's the best application method (other than spraying)? Can I used an oil-based poly on top? (Can says that all topcoats are acceptable and then lists a bunch, but doesn't list oil based poly.)

Thanks in advance, -SW
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post #2 of 19 Old 11-23-2009, 08:45 AM
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I like to sand to 180 and then wet down with a wet rag. This will cause any loose fibers to stand up. Then sand down again to 220. I have sprayed and wiped but have found for me that wiping allowed more control. If you don't wet down and sand, the water in the dye will make the surface rough later and it would be tricky to sand it down then without making the dyed surface irregular in tone. You can use an oil based finish over top with sufficient drying. Read the instructions as I have not used General Finishes dye stain brand. You may need a seal coat and sometimes that is preferred. As always, try every step out on scrap blocks to make sure you like where things are going to go.

Josh Jaros Remodeler in The Woodlands, Texas www.jarosbros.com
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post #3 of 19 Old 11-23-2009, 01:06 PM
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Stream , the advice about pre wetting and sanding is correct, several things , on the end grain sand it super smooth i usually finish it off with some 600, then give it a thin wiped coat of either 1/2 lb cut shellac , or better yet a 50/50 mix of a water base finish , if it seals it too much you can quickly scuff it with a little 320 to open it up a little more , not sure what wood you are using , if its a blotching wood the shellac or better yet waterbased mix, wiped on , let dry , then light scuffed will give you good blotch control , water based dyes dry slower than alcohol , a good thing , i like to apply a liberal amount wipe it on fast , avoid drips,and get the entire surface wet and covered, then while wet use a DAMP cloth to wipe it back, this helps to even out the dye , spraying is a good option , but it can often not accent the grain, wiping does best , i use one of those stain pads that are like a wax applicator , dip it , squeeze out until just nice and wet, not dripping, then appling in as even strokes as possible , then the damp cloth , if you have never used dye, it will dry and look horrible, as well it can dry fast and you will think you have missed an area, when in fact it has just dried , DO NOT REWIPE, if you do you just doubled the color, dye unlike a stain where a second coat does very little, doubles its strength , and tes the oil based poly is fine after it dries, waterbased dyes and stains are compatable with all topcoats , and in reality , unlike oil based stains , oil based topcoats will not remove the color from WB...

Charles

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post #4 of 19 Old 11-23-2009, 03:29 PM
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Everything said above plus, on any inside corners or slightly open joints blow dry the dye stain with an air nozzle. Especially if you apply by spraying, this will keep the dye stain from creeping back out of the joint after the rest of the stain has dried and leaving an ugly dark blotch. The only way to check the color is while the stain is still wet. After drying in will not look anything like it will when you apply sealer so it is good idea to stain a piece of scrap wood of the same species while you are staining and then you can seal a small section of this test piece to make sure the color is OK. If it isn't dark or intense enough you can lightly spray on more dye stain and it will get darker and more intense each time you do. If it is too dark you can wipe it all down with clear water and it will lighten up. Make samples on the same wood before you start on anything important.
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post #5 of 19 Old 11-23-2009, 06:33 PM
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absolutely, rick is dead on point
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post #6 of 19 Old 11-23-2009, 06:45 PM
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I don't pre wet to raise the grain. The WB stain will do that anyway. With the sequential steps in finishing, any raised grain, and nibs get taken care of before the final application of finish.






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post #7 of 19 Old 11-23-2009, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips, everyone. I usually mess things up when it comes time for finishing, so I appreciate the helpful hints. I've made sure there was some really nice grain figure in the table top so I wanted to do this slow and correctly, though I know that will only give me the best chance of having a good turn out.

I was warned by Flexner that birch could get splotchy, so this is why I've opted for a dye. Quick (perhaps dumb) question: when talking about pre-wetting and sanding, I'm assuming that you allow the surface to dry before sanding, correct? Or do you sand while damp?

I'll try some test pieces later this week and hopefully get to the table this weekend. I plan on staining the individual pieces before assembling so that I have better control. I'll post some pics as I go.
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post #8 of 19 Old 11-23-2009, 08:11 PM
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Dye stain can get just as blotchy as any other stain. The secret with water based dye stain on blotchy wood is to spray the stain on but not to get it so wet that it puddles. Just a damp even spray with NO WIPING. (practice on scrap first!) On areas where it is not practical to spray on the stain evenly (like inside of cabinet boxes for example) just spray it on wet and wipe it off. I pre-wet everything when using water stain but the only thing that gets really bad grain raise is the solid wood. Pre-wetting doesn't work if you sand too aggressively after it dries. On birch I would sand with 180 getting out all scratches and defects, pre wet, let dry completely (run your hand over the wood, you will feel the raised fibers) and then lightly sand with 220 just enough to knock off the raised grain. (this is a light sanding and should be very quick)
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post #9 of 19 Old 11-23-2009, 11:03 PM
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Stream,
In addition to what everyone said, practice on a scrap and you will see it really is a simple material to work with. General finishes makes a wipe on oil based poly that I have used and would recommend for a table top. I uses a small square of t-shirt scrunched up into a ball to apply. The first coat dries kind of blotchy. Don't worry about it. After a couple more coats, it flows out nice and even. Just follow the directions on the can. I think you will find the whole process is a lot more fun than using a traditional oil based stain.
Mike Hawkins
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post #10 of 19 Old 11-24-2009, 09:53 AM
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stream if you are using birch , you definately have a blotch issue , so a pre sel is in order..dye will out blotch a stain , because its readily absorbed, where a stain will be more prone to lay on top somewhat , but both will blotch, yes spraying is a good way to lay down an equal color, and is a good way to deal with birch, maple , sherry etc, all the good blotchers, unless you are trying to accent a figure, like tiger maple, or flame birch , here is where a wipe is needed, spraying will not accent the figure nearly as much as wiping, because it forbids the softer grain from absorbing more than the hard grain...the blotch control i mentioned in the first post will help to control it , you may have to use two coats of either , you will have to test....birch is a bear , if it all has to be done wiping
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post #11 of 19 Old 11-24-2009, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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How is the best way to pre-seal for a water dye?

The grain isn't anything truly special, except that I cut the pieces for the top with the natural grain in mind. I used parts that were particularly beautiful. Attached is the table top that I just cut out yesterday, but haven't finished sanding yet (I'm still on the fence on whether or not I'm going to rout an ogee on the edge).

I can already see that there might be a problem there on the bottom of the picture (bottom part of the middle board).

I don't have any spraying equipment and have never sprayed before, which makes me hesitant. Combine that with the fact that I want to accentuate this grain and it looks like I may be wiping.

Do you think I should change tactics at this point or go with a different kind of stain?
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post #12 of 19 Old 11-25-2009, 12:50 PM
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Streamwinner, do you have a compressor? If you do you can buy a cheap hvlp gravity gun at Harbor Freight or Home Depot that will work fine for spraying stain. The water based dyes are non-toxic so you really don't need a spray booth. The gun will only cost you $20, I would give it a try. Just about any other stain will blotch also. If you don't have a compressor then I guess i would try a gel stain, that would give you the best chance with a wiping stain.
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post #13 of 19 Old 11-28-2009, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you jaros, Rick, Charles, cabinetman, and Mike for your help. I'm learning a lot from this project.

Rick - No, I don't have a compressor, but should probably get one soon anyways.

Just in case you're interested, I found these results with some of my scrap pieces. Both were conditioned and I used the water based dye on the first (the orangish brown, on the larger piece) and a gel stain (the darker brown) on the second (the colors are different, so ignore the difference in shade). I thought you might like to see the difference in how each handled the blotches. As you can see, the gel makes a higher contrast with the blotches, but also accentuates the grain more.

I like how the water dye evens out the blotches, but I'm going to go with a darker shade. I picked up the "medium brown" dye yesterday and I'll try that out.
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Last edited by Streamwinner; 11-28-2009 at 10:45 AM.
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post #14 of 19 Old 11-28-2009, 12:01 PM
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If you really want to twist your mind, you can also put the gel stain over the WB dye stain either with a washcoat of sealer or without and see how that looks. :P
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post #15 of 19 Old 11-28-2009, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Mosher View Post
If you really want to twist your mind, you can also put the gel stain over the WB dye stain either with a washcoat of sealer or without and see how that looks. :P
I like how Rick thinks....
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post #16 of 19 Old 11-28-2009, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Mosher View Post
If you really want to twist your mind, you can also put the gel stain over the WB dye stain either with a washcoat of sealer or without and see how that looks. :P
I can't tell if you're messing with me or not, but theoretically that should work. I'm assuming that once the water dries it just leaves the dye in the wood, and thus shouldn't interact with the oil.
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post #17 of 19 Old 11-28-2009, 05:18 PM
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It works very well. Many finishers use this method with dye stain and wiping stain all the time. Just be sure to do your testing first to make sure you like the results. Everyone doesn't have the same taste. The gel stain will go right over the dye stain, using an oil based wiping stain I would use a wash coat of shellac first. You can also experiment with the wash coat ratio also. Anything from 1 part thinner to 1 part sealer (or shellac) to 10 parts thinner to 1 part shellac. The thinner wash coat will allow more stain penetration. (darker color but more blotchiness) By doing samples you will be able to pick the combination that gives you the best results.
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post #18 of 19 Old 11-28-2009, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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I'm glad you mentioned that tip, because I've got the best results so far. Adding the gel on top brought out some more of the grain contrasts, but was still muted enough from the background dye that the blotches weren't too bad (compare to same test piece posted above).

On the left board, the left half is just gel over the light brown dye. The right half is gel over 5:1 shellac (clear) washcoat, as suggested. I think I like the right half better; it has a "warmer" tint.

I'm working on a test piece right now that will have the light brown and dark brown dye side by side, and I'll do 3:1, 5:1, and 7:1 washcoats with the gel. Should be done by tomorrow.
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Last edited by Streamwinner; 11-28-2009 at 07:08 PM.
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post #19 of 19 Old 11-28-2009, 08:06 PM
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Stream one question.....why use the oil-based poly over the water based dye when there are many water-based polys available? Also get that compressor and gun and the possibilities really open up: Add your dye to your water based poly and "tone" your finishes to your desired depth of color. Even better a furniture grade finish can be acheived with a water based conversion type topcoat......
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