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Expert's Corner — dye

TERMS: The Difference Between Dyes and Pigments

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The difference between a dye and a pigment is that dye dissolves in a liquid and pigment doesn’t. Therefore, dye doesn’t settle in a can or jar, but pigment does and has to be stirred back into suspension before using. Dyes are available in powder and liquid form. If in powder form, you have to dissolve the dye in the appropriate liquid—usually water, alcohol or acetone. Instructions will tell you which. In liquid form, dyes are available concentrated (for you to thin), and already thinned with the appropriate liquid. What makes dyes and pigments confusing is that they can be...

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Ebonized Finishes

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Ebonize is a fancy word for “make it black” To be honest, when I read all the concoctions that folks use to achieve a black color onwood, I get a chuckle, it’s amazing. I think the most popular one is using vinegar and 0000 steel wool. The process is to put the steel wool in a jar of vinegar and allow the acid in the vinegar to rust and eat away the steel wool forming a black liquid. My experience with this is that it’s inconsistent. The acid in the vinegar can also alterthe color of the wood and a...

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DEALING WITH THE CHERRY BLOTCHING PROBLEM

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DEALING WITH THE CHERRY BLOTCHING PROBLEM

Cherry was long thought of as the poor man’s mahogany and was used as a substitute for mahogany. But as quality mahogany has become harder to get, cherry has become increasing popular and is now widely thought of as a quality wood in its own right. Though cherry has a beautiful color and is easy to work, it is difficult to finish nicely because of its tendency to blotch. Blotching is uneven coloring caused especially by stains, but also by just a clear finish, that leaves some areas darker than others. Everyone wants to know how to avoid blotching in...

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Protect Your Inlay

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Protect Your Inlay

One of my earliest furniture projects was a Sheraton Field bed that I built when I was 14 years old. Later, another version of that same bed was built. This time, however, I inlaid small birdseye panels into the square sections of the mahogany posts – an idea that caught my eye while surfing museum books. From nearly the beginning of my furniture building career, my favorite finish has used aniline dye to color my project with top coats of shellac and/or lacquer. As I contemplated how to finish the bed, I was concerned that all the work put into...

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Resistance of Dyes to Fading

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Resistance of Dyes to Fading

All dyes fade much faster than pigment when exposed to bright light—sunlight and fluorescent light being the worst culprits. But some types of dyes fade faster than others. The worst for fading are the natural vegetable dyes, such as walnut husks and berries. These were sometimes used centuries ago, but they were replaced in the late nineteenth century by “aniline” dyes. These are usually acid or basic dyes derived from various chemicals. They quickly replaced natural dyes in the textile industry and then entered the woodworking industry. They are available to woodworkers today in powder form to be dissolved in...

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