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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks. I am a lowly college student at Iowa State building a much nicer than average beer pong table. the top of the table (the playing surface) will be made of 1/4" birch plywood because I'm a cheap bastard and ping pong balls bounce nicely off of it.

I want to stain it with two tones, a deep reddish one and a lighter yellowish one. Rustoleum has pretty much the perfect shades, so that's who I am planning on using. I want most of the playing surface to be stained with the yellow shade while the words IOWA STATE are stained in the red.

I plan on cutting along a stencil into the plywood with an Xacto knife to help eliminate bleeding. Along with the obvious very careful application of painters tape and using a preconditioner.

I expect there to be a little bit of blotchiness, but I want to minimize it. Eliminating bleeding is more important to me.

Any and all advice is appreciated.
 

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If you want crisp lines, I think stain or dye will be a problem. Anything that soaks into the wood is going to bleed along the wood fibers. Can you use paint instead? Something that sits on top rather than soaks in?
 

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It would be easier if you cut the plywood as a inlay and stain the two different components a different color before assembly. If you have the means of spraying you could mask off the contrasting areas with a paint block tape such as frog tape and spray a water based dye on. It would have to be sprayed on with a very light misting or the dye would bleed under the tape anyway. Once that area has been stained sprayed seal the wood with a sealer or the finish you will be using. Then when the sealer is dry remove the tape and mask that area off and dye the rest of it in the same manor and seal it. Then the masking can be removed and the entire surface could be finished as normal.
 

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Old School
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Hi folks. I am a lowly college student at Iowa State building a much nicer than average beer pong table. the top of the table (the playing surface) will be made of 1/4" birch plywood because I'm a cheap bastard and ping pong balls bounce nicely off of it.

I want to stain it with two tones, a deep reddish one and a lighter yellowish one. Rustoleum has pretty much the perfect shades, so that's who I am planning on using. I want most of the playing surface to be stained with the yellow shade while the words IOWA STATE are stained in the red.

I plan on cutting along a stencil into the plywood with an Xacto knife to help eliminate bleeding. Along with the obvious very careful application of painters tape and using a preconditioner.

I expect there to be a little bit of blotchiness, but I want to minimize it. Eliminating bleeding is more important to me.

Any and all advice is appreciated.
You may find out that whatever you use to mask off the area, a stain or dye can seep under the tape. Test out on a sample first.






.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
An inlay would be ideal, but I'm not sure I trust my jigsaw skills enough to pull off that precision. I also, unfortunately, don't have the means to spray stain or dye. God I can't wait til I have a house with a garage. My studio apartment makes collecting tools tough.

So, I think I'll instead focus on minimizing bleeding. I've come to accept that some is inevitable. Will frog tape help any with stain, or does it really only make a difference with paint? Does slicing along the border with an Xacto knife help at all? Thanks for the help guys!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you guys for the help! The thought had occurred to me to add an accent color between the two stains if there was too much bleeding, and I really like the way that turned out. Would you guys recommend oil or water based stain? Keep in mind that this table will be getting wet on a fairly regular basis. I plan on putting a polyurethane clear coat over the top of it.
 

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Rick Mosher
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If it were me, I would stain the entire thing the lighter color and seal it. Then tape off the areas you want to be the lighter color and paint the darker red color instead of staining. Get an aerosol can the color you want and use that. After you take the tape off just clear coat the entire thing and you're done.
 

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Fairly common wood carving trick to paint/stain one area = make a skinny cut 1/16" or so, all around the figure. Go slow and do it right. The finish won't bleed across the cut. When all is done and the finish has cured very well, burnish the cut closed with something hard and smooth. The result might even look like inlay (makes you look like an ace.)
Xacto blades are the Bic pens of the carving world.

I don't care for the masking tape idea. I can never be certain that the burnished edge is adequately burnished. It's really hard to go around curves. If I got it stuck down well enough, I hate to see the tape start pulling up wood fiber. Gotta tape it all again for the contrasting stain/color with all of the same risks.

Plan B: Frisket cut with a scalpel and airbrush.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So simply cutting along the pattern should work, right? Have heard mixed results, but the logic seems pretty sound behind the idea.
 

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Have you got some sort of offcut scrap of wood?
Make the cut and sneak up to it with a Q-Tip loaded with water.

Ames, huh? Dad earned his PhD there. I've still got his tie bar Phi Kappa Phi
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, I have a decent amount of scrap identical to the birch ply I'll be using. And the q-tip tip (get it?) is one I had not yet heard. But I'll try out a few suggestions I have heard on some scrap either tonight or tomorrow.

And yes, Ames... going to school here for Mechanical Engineering.
 

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Robson Valley said:
Fairly common wood carving trick to paint/stain one area = make a skinny cut 1/16" or so, all around the figure. Go slow and do it right. The finish won't bleed across the cut. When all is done and the finish has cured very well, burnish the cut closed with something hard and smooth. The result might even look like inlay (makes you look like an ace.)
Xacto blades are the Bic pens of the carving world.

I don't care for the masking tape idea. I can never be certain that the burnished edge is adequately burnished. It's really hard to go around curves. If I got it stuck down well enough, I hate to see the tape start pulling up wood fiber. Gotta tape it all again for the contrasting stain/color with all of the same risks.

Plan B: Frisket cut with a scalpel and airbrush.
Don't you think the ping pong ball will be effected by the 1/16" cut?

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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a) No, not if the cut is burnished shut.
b) It's a beer-pong table! With enough wobbly-pops, the seam will go undetected.

BTW, I just did the expt with water on birch = did not go past the cut.
Beautiful (junk) heartwood birch blocks for expts with ammonia fuming and ebonizing.
 

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Rick Mosher
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I don't care for the masking tape idea. I can never be certain that the burnished edge is adequately burnished. It's really hard to go around curves. If I got it stuck down well enough, I hate to see the tape start pulling up wood fiber.
1. You use fine line tape, NOT masking tape. You can visually see that fine line tape has been burnished.

2. They make fine line tape as thin as 1/16" I haven't found a curve that won't go around (I even mask off flames on motorcycle tanks with very tight curves using it), if it is a complicated shape then I use frisket and cut it out with an xacto knife.

3. I recommended finishing the entire panel the lighter color before masking so there would be no fibers pulled up. You can mask on even soft raw wood but that is a different technique not using masking tape at all.
 

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Here we have a college guy with some birch and an XActo knife. Don't imagine he's got BIG BUCKS to spend on this Beer Pong project.
What's the very best that we can help him do in his dorm room?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Oh, and for the record, my last table had the worst bounciness of any beer pong table ever. That's what I get for using thin plexiglass as my playing surface. So even with a little cut that will be a huge improvement.

Robson Valley, just to be safe could you walk me through step-by-step how you did yours, since we know it worked? I'll be running some trials tonight.
 

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Draw a pencil line to outline the area (straight/curved, doesn't matter.)
Trace that with the knife point 2X or 3X. Straight down, a bit of a dragging cut.
Single edge razor blade would do.

Wood carving knives usually have a total included bevel angle of 12 degrees or so.
You don't have to push the wood very far apart. . . . jump the cut = your mess.

Go up to the cut with the liquid. Let it dry thoroughly. Then do the other area. Dry.
Now with the back end of a knife/fork/spoon, burnish the cut to mate the edges.
 
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