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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had seen the technique of using India Ink to ebonize wood and thought I'd give it a try on a top for an island made of birch plywood. It seemed to work very well, coming out relatively even and free of blotches. I went ahead and did a layer of shellac over it before proceeding to my usual wiping varnish finishing. It wasn't until after I got the shellac on that I noticed a few areas in direct sunlight that showed through to the wood, where I apparently didn't apply the ink thick enough. Do you think it would be salvageable to sand down the single layer of shellac and apply an ebony oil based stain over it to hopefully darken the slightly lighter spots? Or do you think ink over a thin seal coat of shellac would absorb into the wood enough to fix the uneven spots? It's not really noticeable in indoor, artificial light, but only in direct sun that you can see these spots. They aren't super noticeable, and would probably be fine left as is, but knowing it's there and not perfect bothers me. I tried to stretch the coating too thin, as I used more than expected and was running out of it. Should have gotten an extra bottle I guess. You live and learn...
 

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If you applied the shellac with a rag or brush I bet you wiped off some. Alcohol is contained in shellac and is also the solvent for ink so it would be real easy to rub some of the ink off.

From where you are unless you have the means of spraying it isn't fixable without stripping and starting over. You could thin down some ink and put it in a sprayer and shade in the light spots like a toner. You would never be able to do it by hand. If you have an air compressor for less than 25 bucks you could get a sprayer from Harbor Freight that would do everything you need. I use the #97855 sprayer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Yeah, I screwed up by using the shellac over the ink. I didn't think it through fully, and was thinking it would more protect it from mixing with the wipe on poly, but for whatever reason it didn't occur to me the problems involved with using an alcohol based finish over an alcohol suspended ink... I decided to just go with it, and let it be somewhat inconsistent. At least when I applied the ink I was careful to follow the grain as best as possible. So at least the lighter spots will mostly look like variation in grain darkness. Worst case scenario, I'm out $50 of birch and another $20 of ink, plus a little shellac and poly. Not a huge loss. But I think I can make it work. Thanks.

And yes, I already have a nifty little purple HVLP gun from Harbor Freight. Works pretty well for what it is. I need to pull it out and use it more. Though I can't at the moment, since someone has been "borrowing" my compressor for a little over a year now... Need to go rescue it and bring it home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is with two coats of wipe on poly, still have one or two more coat of poly to put on, but I'm overall happy with it. Not my best work, but it'll do. I know now what not to do next time. It's all a learning experience.



 

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I am refinishing a dining table top - I think its red oak and I applied india ink I thought it was blotchy so I sanded it again I don't have all the ink off but was considering reapplying the ink, Did you use sanding sealer? What was your method of application? I originally used a foam brush and was not happy with the outcome - I thought your table looked great in comparison to mine
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks. I didn't use any sealer on the birch plywood. I just sanded it down to 320 grit, then used a rag to wipe on the ink as evenly as possible. I started out with a foam brush, but it absorbed too much of the ink and wasn't releasing enough, and the same for a paint brush. I just used about a 4" square of cotton cloth. If I hadn't tried to stretch the ink so far (was a little short) it would have been perfect. But as it is now, there are a few light spots... Now I know not to do that again. I also screwed up by trying to put the shellac sealer on top of the ink, which just liquefied it again and thinned it even further. So yeah, bare wood and wipe it on, then go straight to whatever top coat you are going to use.
 

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india ink

Thanks for responding I will try the wipe on approach and I think I will have a better outcome. I am not sure what type of wood the top is. I was just guessing at the red oak. What is your recommendation for topcoat. Polyurethane or a spray?? Brush or roll on???
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I went with a wipe on polyurethane. Though if you have the means, a spray lacquer is a good option too. I'm not that knowledgeable, so I'm only putting out there what I know. May or may not be "correct"...
 

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I bought minwax Polycrylic in satin - did you brush roll or wipe on with a certain cloth? Do you recommend satin or Gloss? I do appreciate you responding to my questions....I have now reapplied the ink and I am not crazy about the coverage. does the poly smooth out the ink stain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've never used Polycrylic, but I'd imagine it's thick like regular polyurethane. So brushing on is probably the way to go. Depends on what you like as to whether you use satin or gloss. I prefer a more natural look, so I typically go with a satin finish. If you do go satin, use gloss for every other coat, and save the satin for the final coat. Gloss goes on and dries clearer and won't make your finish look hazy and muddy. Poly won't really do anything to actually smooth out the ink, but the ink alone does look a lot more streaky and uneven, just due to the surface of the wood reflecting more light in certain areas. What kind of ink are you using? From what I understand, the best ones to use are Speedball Super Black or Dick Blick "Archival" grade India Ink. Regular acrylic inks don't go on as dark or evenly, from what I've heard and read. If you have enough, maybe go back over the whole top again to darken any light spots? It may also have to do with the wood itself.
 
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