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Hello, and thanks for all the advice I've gotten on the forum. Very helpful.

I have an antique head and footboard (Ash) that I have just finished sanding and am now ready to finish. I've been reading about the benefits of dye and the fact that it brings out more grain (absorption) than does stain, which is what I want. I have some experience with stains, but have never used dye's. what are the cons to using it? At this point application would probably done with a foam brush since the airless sprayers I've been looking at are at least 700.00. Is there any advice as to application by brush? Also, any advice on using alcohol or water base dye's?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Dyes especially the alcohol based dyes are better sprayed at low pressure. If you intend to work them by hand I would thin it a great deal more than you would spraying it. It would be better to go light and add more coats than get it too dark to begin with and end up trying to take some off. Personally if the wood is reasonably the same density I think an oil stain would work better on ash. On the other hand if some boards are very hard and some are very soft it could go blotchy using an oil stain. You could also use the dye to bring the bed close to the color you want and then use an oil stain to give it some warmth. Sometimes dyes tend to give wood a kinda plastic look.
 

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Be aware that dyes work best when absorbed into the wood. With a previously finished piece that may not work like it does on new wood. It's very hard to remove all the previous finish, and what is removed may be a little inconsistent across the face. Just a cautionary statement. One other little tidbit: as I understand it, alcohol dyes are not quite as light fast as the ones made for water. All dyes are less light fast than stains, but alcohol dyes a little less so.
 

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General finishes dye stain works very well for ash in particular. It took me a lot of trial and error since I was going to use it on a maloof style rocking chair. Don't be afraid to mix colors too. Use a small sponge covered with a cotton sock and it will go on very neatly and consistently
 

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I've been using TransTint dye concentrate from Homestead Finishing. TransTint can be mixed with either alcohol or water. I haven't done any huge surfaces, but one of the tips I've read and used is to mix it with a 50/50 solution of water and alcohol. The water slows drying just enough to help eliminate lap marks. Another trick is to mix it half strength or less and keep applying coats until you get the color you want.
 

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Dark finish for ash wood

I've just finished a set of benches from ash. I wanted a dark color, and had a number of awful results on test pieces, particularly starting with gel stain (hardly takes on old season growth, deep color in the pores). Pre-treating didn't help; I tried the Mixiwax pre-stain, and that made no difference, then a paste filler to deal with the pores -- result was even less color absorption than I wanted.

Here's what worked, very, very well: I started with a water-based dye that I mixed from a couple of Mosher dye colors (a dark brown and a reddish brown), and painted that on then ragged it off for an even coat. Next I put on a clear paste filler coat with a plastic scraper (don't brush this on, if you want to fill pores well and not have ridges to deal with; this step takes some attention and care). When the paste dried, which was quickly, I sanded it very, very lightly (easy to sand right through to bare wood and lose the dye layer - careful!). Then I rubbed on a dark gel stain over the paste filler. It took well, and brought a rather dusty stained wood color into a gorgeous rich tone. After than, I used spar varnish (because these benches go outside), but any clear finish would do.

The results are just beautiful, with an even color, but lots of wood character left. Reminds me a little of a chestnut brown finish on elm. I know this involves a lot of steps, but, hey, it took a long time to build those benches -- why settle for a shoddy finish?
 
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