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Expert's Corner — dye

“Equalizing” Sapwood

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Finishing Tip by Bob FlexnerBut it’s usually better to equalize the sapwood to the color of the heartwood.One method is to bleach the wood using two-part bleach (sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide). This will remove the coloring from the heartwood, so you can then stain the wood back to the color you want.To achieve an even coloring with darker colored woods, it’s always best to use only heartwood to begin with. But this isn’t always possible. So you may want to “equalize” the coloring of the sapwood and heartwood. The easier way to do this, if you intend to stain...

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TIP: Dye Migration

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TIP: Dye Migration

The general consensus on figured woods is pretty much saturation, or using a trace coat to further intensify the grain. However sometimes a dye can migrate, meaning it just goes way too dark and can create a blotchy mess. Broad curl woods like Curly Cherry, Flame Birch, etc. can also absorb any colorant unevenly. We've looked at many ways to help control this. I want to emphasize how important it is that you do a test on a scrap before you dive in. With that said one of my favorite tricks is to use water to help control the absorption....

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TIP: Use Dye to Match New Parts

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TIP: Use Dye to Match New Parts

A common situation in furniture restoration is matching a newly made part to the color of the rest of the object. Water-soluble dyes are much more effective for doing this than commercial store-bought stains. The water-soluble dyes I’m referring to are those made by WD Lockwood. They are also sold by Woodworker’s Supply under the name Moser. Metalized dyes like those sold as NGR stains or Transtint aren’t nearly as effective because they are difficult to lighten. Trying to tweak the color usually results in it getting darker as the two colors blend and there’s no easy way to lighten...

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TIP: Stains can change color over time

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Many, probably most, store-bought stains are made with both dye and pigment. If wood stained with these stains is exposed to sunlight or fluorescent light for a while, the dye color will fade away, but the pigment color will remain. The effect is that the stained wood changes color. In the accompanying picture the red dye in this “cherry” stain has faded on the top half (I covered the bottom half) after only a few days in direct sunlight, leaving the color significantly different. It’s definitely no longer cherry color. The fading occurs much more rapidly in direct sunlight than...

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TIP: Stain gets wood too dark

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There are two broad categories of stain: dye that is dissolved in a liquid, and dye and/or pigment combined with a binder. The first are usually called “dye” stains and are sold either as powders for you to do the dissolving, or are already dissolved in a liquid solvent. The second are often called “wiping stains,” “pigment stains,” “oil stains,” “water-based stains” or “lacquer stains” and are the common stains you buy in cans at home centers and paint stores. If a dye stain gets the wood too dark, try removing some of the dye by wiping with its solvent....

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