How To Use Dye Stain To Enhance Wood

Dye stain is popular for wood crafting since they produce a deep brown color that is rich and perfect for furniture and fixtures. There is a distinction however between dye stains and those that are pigment based, which is determined by size. Whereas standard pigments range from 1 to 2 microns, dye particles are about sixty percent smaller. The biggest advantage of using dye stains is that it results in greater penetration which leads to enhanced grain detail and a color effect which is spectacular without blocking the grain patterns themselves.

Choosing The Best Dye Stains

Liquid dyes that are concentrated are best, since they provide a wider color range and are easier to use. They can be premixed, although this variant costs more, and dyes which are powdered offer a lot of the same benefits as dyes that are liquid and concentrated, but those wanting to mix it with alcohol and water will need to use a digital scale.

Prepping The Surface

You will need to prep the surface by sanding it, which provides an extra benefit when utilizing dye stain, since you will get a smoother surface that will allow for greater dye penetration. For best results you will want to sand the surface with a moderate grit of about 120. Swirl marks can be removed by sanding by hand, and don’t forget to use your shop vac to get rid of excess sawdust.

Mix The Dye Stain And Apply It

The three things to keep in mind while mixing your dye stain are formulation, experimentation and concentration. The ratio of water to dye will determine the stain intensity, and to change colors, you will blend in different dyes. It is highly recommended to do the test batch first. Once you have the mixture you want, you will next need to apply it to the wood, which is best accomplished with a cotton rag that is square, 12’’ in size and lint free. Flood the surface to maximize penetration. Work rapidly to avoid lap marks, and if they still occur, you can place additional stain to remove them.

Sand Lightly Using 180 Grit

This is the last sanding step and is done to eliminate raised grain on the uppermost layer. At this point the dye which has penetrated the wooden pores will stay in place. Once you sand lightly, remove any visible swirls by hand sanding lightly with the 180 grit using your sanding block. Then apply a secondary coat, wipe away any excess and let it dry.

Applying The Finish

Now you will want to apply a thin shellac coat, and then add a top coat using a varnish that is water based. Keep the samples you have, since by maintaining a dye effects catalog and recording the mixture on the back of every sample, you will have more options for your next project, and will know what to look for.