sawdust chronicles challenge #5: I'll try anything once

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Blog entry by BigTiny posted 09-24-2010 09:50 AM 1110 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: update, September 17 Part 5 of sawdust chronicles challenge series Part 6: update »

Greetings all.

In an attempt to get the brilliant colors I want for my Sawdust Chronicles challenge build, I’ve been trying various methods of coloring wood. One of the more unorthodox ways I’ve tried worked better than I thought it would. Quite a bit better to be precise.

Believe it or not, I tried Rit cloth dye! Mixed it a little stronger than the directions called for (1 1/2 cups of water per package instead of 2) and tested on some small pieces of maple veneer. Best results came from two coats applied with a small sponge to both sides (in order to minimize the veneer curling up on me). I applied a couple of coats of clear acrylic finish over the dye to seal it and the results were quite good, although not what I was after for my project.

I can see this as a suitable method for special effects where non traditional colors are desired. Another benefit, it’s cheap. Here in Winnipeg, it’s $2.49 a package, which makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups of solution.

One warning: WEAR RUBBER GLOVES! Otherwise you’re going to have hands in colors nature never intended for them.

Sorry there are no pictures, but my wife is away for a family wedding and she took our camera with her.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

10 comments so far

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3116 days

#1 posted 09-24-2010 01:26 PM

This kind of info is just good for everybody. I have used an alcohol soluble aniline die once with very good results but I have to to order it online. I bet that RIT stuff is available at all the fabric outlets. Pics of your color results would be greatly appreciated.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View EPJartisan's profile


1116 posts in 2548 days

#2 posted 09-24-2010 05:58 PM

I had a amazing accident a few months ago. I was using a veneer softener on some bloodwood veneer, and absentmindedly set one aside on a small piece of maple veneer. IT stuck to it and got pressed flat with the other veneers over night. The next day…. the sap from the bloodwood had stained the maple a pinkish red with the same figured grain patterns as the bloodwood. I am still planning to try this again, in a more controlled manner, but I have started to explore more uses for the veneer softener.

I have also been interested in coloring thanks to other posts here in LJs. Prior, I was more a purist for wood color.. hated staining… well I still hate staining… but color is far more interesting. I tried the alcohol soluble aniline die, and the water soluble…. I tried all chemical combinations possible in my studio, from rubbing alcohol, to salt water, to tung oil…. Veneer softener was absolutely the best for penetration, even after sanding… and once dried it did not bleed into other glued surfaces.. and worked great with most finishes without grain figure loss.. AND most excitingly…. can take colored oil finishes with AMAZING results.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View EPJartisan's profile


1116 posts in 2548 days

#3 posted 09-24-2010 06:01 PM

Oh yes… I also had blue fingers for about 2 weeks. I learned.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2357 days

#4 posted 09-24-2010 07:09 PM

Hey Big Tiny,

When your wifes comes back please post some pictures. We probaly can save some money and get great color with this kind of dye.

how resitant is it to discoloration from light?

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2311 days

#5 posted 09-25-2010 02:08 AM

Hi guys.

Well, I’ll post a pic or two when able, but the pieces were about the size of a business card and I only tried the scarlet dye, no other colors. I figured it would give me the info I wanted on whether it would do what I wanted or not.

On the issue of coloring, has anyone used lye on oak or cherry? AMAZING! Has the same darkening effect as a couple of centuries of aging.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View derosa's profile


1568 posts in 2258 days

#6 posted 09-25-2010 12:12 PM

Another stain is kool-aid, haven’t tried it on wood but it works great on shirts

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View Brit's profile


6582 posts in 2265 days

#7 posted 09-26-2010 10:22 AM

Thanks for the tip AND the warning. It’s good to experiment.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View helluvawreck's profile


22697 posts in 2289 days

#8 posted 09-26-2010 02:41 PM

This was an interesting post, BigTiny. Sometimes, doing something unorthodox really teaches people something and pays off big.

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 3515 days

#9 posted 09-28-2010 10:11 AM

I agree with the others Big, experimenting teaches a lot. I’ve been following this blog with interest. Your enthusiasm in attacking this project head-on is contagious.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2311 days

#10 posted 09-28-2010 01:47 PM

Greetings all.

You guys are going to give me a swelled head if you keep this up. ;)

I figure just about everything is an experiment to me these days, it;s been so long since I did anything in the shop. I’ve never been one to go the safe route if there was a more interesting one available. I guess I have what some people would call an inquiring mind. (others might say I don’t have one, you takes your choice.)

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

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