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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not a wood expert, nor a finishing expert. I started a project at home and it's veered off in a way that I do not like. I purchased two unfinished wood 3 drawer dressers, which I want to finish in a dark gray but still be able to see the grain.
My first attempt did not come out right, I used the MinWax water based stain. First applying a white stain to neutralize the yellow/redish natural color of the alder wood. Waited tow hours then started with the slate water based stain. This is where it all went wrong. I was not able to apply the stain and then pick up with a rag in a way that didn't leave blotches and unevenness. Then I tried just leaving the stain on and not picking it up, that left a lot of streaks and it covered a lot of the grain.
I could really used some step by step guidance here.
This is the color I'm trying to achieve.
 

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Do you have the right picture?

This looks like black walnut, but your message states you are looking to achieve dark grey.

Can you confirm the desired colour. A picture of the wood in its present state would also help.

Lots of discussion on this site about stains vs dyes. Possible that a dye may work better. Hard to tell without the before and desired after pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, right now the wood is an ugly opaque gray, which I will need to stand down for sure. The image I posted was a piece of unfinished alder wood which I manipulated the color using Photoshop, to show what I'm aiming for.
 

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I am working with some black walnut right now, and the colour is the same as your picture. The grain is also very similar.

It is always preferred if you can sand back to bare wood.

If you want that nice even colour, I think using dye will give you the even colour, nice penetration and still allow the grain to show through.

There are many threads on this site discussing stain vs dye and how to apply dye.

Rather than repeat, here is a recent thread on stain.
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f8/staining-prem-douglas-fir-40384/

If you want tips on finishing, stains or dyes, start with Jeff Jewitt's very informative site. He is the FWW finishing guru.
http://www.homesteadfinishingproducts.com/index.html
 

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You might try on bare wood (sanded to 180x) a mix of gray oil base paint and mineral spirits. If you can't find a gray, mix up some black and white. The ratios are what you will have to experiment with. I make pickling finishes this way, and with some experimenting you can get just a light shade or more color as the paint to mineral spirits gets increased.









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Discussion Starter #6
This looks like black walnut, but your message states you are looking to achieve dark grey.

Can you confirm the desired colour. A picture of the wood in its present state would also help.

Lots of discussion on this site about stains vs dyes. Possible that a dye may work better. Hard to tell without the before and desired after pictures.

I've attached a couple photos of what my furniture looks like now, after 1st failed attempt. YUCK!
 

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I can see why you do not like this finish. I can imagine this in a dorm or some institution.

Looks more like paint.

Definitely need to sand back to bare wood.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
OK, so by using a dye can I simply brush it on and leave it or do I have to pick up like a stain (which I am really trying to avoid). Do I use the dye directly on the bare wood after sanding or is there any kind of preconditioning that I need to do? Do I build up layers of dye? Drying time between layers? Is there a top coat required after?

…I wasn't kidding when I said I was no expert. Thank you for your help I do appreciate it!
 

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I recommend going to site's like Jeff Jewitt's. A lot more information than you will get in a forum message.

http://www.homesteadfinishingproducts.com/htdocs/faqs.htm

Dyes are typically dissolved in a solvent. This can be water or alcohol.

Jeff Jewitt's site makes the Transtint brand, which I have used.

I have only used this a couple of times.

A few drops of dye in e.g., shellac and then applied by hand. Let it dry. No wiping off like stain. Ideally test on a piece of scrap of similar species first.

Repeat if you need to darken the colour.

You can then finish with more coats of shellac without any dye.
 

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It looks to me like you were on the right tract but you used too much gray. The next go round I would try on scraps first and thin down the gray paint. The problem with this type of finish it is too thin to use as a finish alone and should be clearcoated. To do this you will need a finish that is compatible with the paint as well as water clear. Clear coats have a tendency of yellowing and a clear coat over a painted surface looks really bad. The easiest product to locate would be a water based polyurethane. Water based products are inherently not as durable but solvent coatings often react badly to different paints and most are prone to yellow. Often when a car is painted you put the color on first and then put a clear coating over it. These clear coats are expensive but are the best product you can use for this purpose if they are compatible with the base coat you use. There are also water clear lacquers you can put over paint however they are not compatible with oil based paint. If your base coat is latex than lacquer can be used over the top.
 

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A problem you may be having is that most stain contains a binder to hold it to the wood. This effectively seals the wood, making further staining difficult. You're better off with just one coat of stain, or following an application of dye with a coat of stain.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
wood dyes

I've been looking all over locally for "wood dyes" and nobody carries them. Just wood stains. :censored:
 

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I've been looking all over locally for "wood dyes" and nobody carries them. Just wood stains. :censored:
Wood dyes are more of a professional finishing product. If you live in a small town like I do the paint companies only cater to house painting. Fortunately I live about 60 miles from Dallas and I try to stock up on supplies when ever I'm there. Wood dye is something you can buy online in powder form and not have the hasmat fees associated with shipping of some forms of premixed dyes. Once you have the powder you can mix it with water or alcohol. Try www.mohawk-finishing.com

 

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I am having the same issue with the tinted stain I bought. It acts more like paint than stain (comparing to say a dark walnut, mahogany, etc.) Then when I try to sand it off, it just lumps up...sucks!

I have been wanting to thread about this, maybe this is a good start. We can learn together? I just want to know how to put on tinted stains that I buy at the box stores....and don't even let me go off on the stuff that they mixed for me...almost like glue!

Anyways, I wish you luck and hope that I can learn from Steve and the others that are great on these topics. :thumbsup:
 

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This is about coloring wood. Basically stains, dyes, and paint can do that. To keep this very simple, it's wise to incorporate the chemicals used to do (coloring) that are compatible with each other. Lacquer (as it is traditionally known...acetone based) should not be applied over oil base varnishes or polyurethanes, or latex.

If you want to play mad scientist, you can experiment with the different stains and dyes, and the sequences that they are used. You can also experiment with simple coloring (see post #5). Using paint may sound like it would be out of whack, but when thinned will color wood and allow the grain to show. You can get any color desired, It can be very simple. The intensity of color concentration can be very easily controlled.





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Discussion Starter #16
Hello cabinetman,
So I'm almost done sanding everything down to bare wood again. I really don't want to play mad scientist and would like to get it right next time. When you suggest to use paint, are you talking about using something that I would by in say Home Depot or something else? What do you think about bleaching the wood before making it gray, to neutralize the natural red/yellow of the wood?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The only thing that worries me about your suggestion is that everyone tells me that shellac and varnishes tend to yellow. Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So after hearing a lot of suggestions on here and also from word of mouth this seems to be the consensus. First, I would bleach the wood to get rid of the natural yellow/red of the alder wood and make it closer to a neutral white. Then use an acetone to neutralize the bleach. Then use a sealer (so getting away from staining and moving towards glazing). Then painting the darker gray using a thinned out color (more like a really thinned out black). The reason why I would use black is because I would be afraid that adding white would again make my glaze opaque (this is what happened to my stain the first time, see photos in thread above).

Thoughts on this process? Any suggestions on what I should use exactly for the paint, specifics are appreciated!
 

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The only thing that worries me about your suggestion is that everyone tells me that shellac and varnishes tend to yellow. Thoughts?
I never mentioned shellac or varnish.
Hello cabinetman,
So I'm almost done sanding everything down to bare wood again. I really don't want to play mad scientist and would like to get it right next time. When you suggest to use paint, are you talking about using something that I would by in say Home Depot or something else?
An oil base paint. It's a standard item in any paint store or home center.
What do you think about bleaching the wood before making it gray, to neutralize the natural red/yellow of the wood?
You can experiment with samples to see the results. I didn't suggest bleaching.
So after hearing a lot of suggestions on here and also from word of mouth this seems to be the consensus. First, I would bleach the wood to get rid of the natural yellow/red of the alder wood and make it closer to a neutral white. Then use an acetone to neutralize the bleach. Then use a sealer (so getting away from staining and moving towards glazing). Then painting the darker gray using a thinned out color (more like a really thinned out black). The reason why I would use black is because I would be afraid that adding white would again make my glaze opaque (this is what happened to my stain the first time, see photos in thread above).

Thoughts on this process? Any suggestions on what I should use exactly for the paint, specifics are appreciated!
You can get five responses and 5 different answers. I like to suggest the simplest and easiest start to a project. If you experiment and the results are not what you expect, then try a different method.





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Discussion Starter #20
I recommend going to site's like Jeff Jewitt's. A lot more information than you will get in a forum message.

http://www.homesteadfinishingproducts.com/htdocs/faqs.htm

Dyes are typically dissolved in a solvent. This can be water or alcohol.

Jeff Jewitt's site makes the Transtint brand, which I have used.

I have only used this a couple of times.

A few drops of dye in e.g., shellac and then applied by hand. Let it dry. No wiping off like stain. Ideally test on a piece of scrap of similar species first.

Repeat if you need to darken the colour.

You can then finish with more coats of shellac without any dye.
I bought some black transfast powder die, it's not black. On the alder it looks more like purple. On the bleached alder (I tried a test piece) it looks turquoise. I just don't know how I'm going to achieve the gray color I'm looking for.
 
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