finishing with aniline dye

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Blog entry by Bob Casey posted 07-05-2014 05:47 PM 1796 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi everybody I have a question I have for the first time used Trans tint aniline dye on tiger maple, WOW does it bring out the stripes, Ok I used it with water. Now what do I use can I use Poly or shellac as they are oil based, or should I just wax it, or is there something else I should use, also how long before putting on the finish coat

-- woodnutbob

8 comments so far

View Woodtodust's profile


53 posts in 1862 days

#1 posted 07-05-2014 07:47 PM

I only have a partial answer regarding shellac. It is not oil based it uses alcohol as its thinning agent. In fact, I just mixed up a 2# cut that I am going to apply over an oil based stain. My understanding and experience has been that shellac is very agnostic regarding the finishes it is either the base for or is applied over. For instance, it is often used as as a sealer before other finishes are applied. The restorer who taught me French Polishing says that he applies it directly over lacquer.

Sorry for the partial answer. I have not used dyes but I would feel confident applying shellac over top. However, I always, always test finishes on a board of the same species dyed, stained or left natural before I try it on the “real” project. I have always been glad that I did that step to make sure the appearance matches my expectations. (did I say always enough times? ;)

-- Bill...Richmond Hill, GA--"83% of all statistics are made up."

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2512 days

#2 posted 07-05-2014 08:06 PM

Dye doesn’t care, as long as it’s water or Alcohol or something non-oil based.

Dry? Wait a couple days, try finishing on a scrap piece done at the same time. I use our lumber when the meter reads 14-16%, not the 8% called for in the book….. it ain’t gonna happen in Central TX. in the best years.

I never really worry about it, you don’t soak the wood with dye the way you do with stain so it evaporates pretty quickly.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View AandCstyle's profile


3075 posts in 2282 days

#3 posted 07-06-2014 12:58 AM

Bob, I would apply a coat of shellac to seal the TT. If you apply another water based product over the TT, it might become “muddy” as the original dye coat migrates into the next water based product. Then apply whatever finish is necessary to protect the piece and the shellac. If it is a table, then poly would be a good choice. If it is a picture frame, the shellac will be sufficient. HTH

-- Art

View Bob Casey's profile

Bob Casey

81 posts in 1506 days

#4 posted 07-06-2014 01:52 AM

Thanks for the help as usual Lumber Jocks come thru with the answers

-- woodnutbob

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2445 days

#5 posted 07-06-2014 02:48 PM

I have used water based dyes quite a bit. If you use a waterbased urethane you will see some loss of original color as the water dilutes the already dyed finish. I noticed this while applying General Finishes water based finish with a clean rag. I could see color coming off on the rag. Using a General Finishes oil based topcoat did not do that.
Experiment on a sample board first. Good Luck.

View Grumpymike's profile


2261 posts in 2341 days

#6 posted 07-06-2014 07:52 PM

Read Dallas and AandCstyle really close … they are spot on … and when in doubt use a CLEAR shellac to seal it.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


405 posts in 3047 days

#7 posted 07-07-2014 09:47 AM

You’ll definitely want to seal it with something but what and how depends on a number of factors.

I typically seal dyes with shellac. Shellac may or may not work as a final top coat depending on how the item in question will be used. If you are going to put anything on top of the shellac, you will want to make sure to use a de-waxed shellac. Shellac colors are frequently matched according to the wood (or dye) color that it’s going on with lighter shellacs (blonde and ultra blonde) being used on lighter woods and amber or garnet shellac on darker woods. If nothing else is going on top or you’re only topping it with a clear topcoat, then I would use a 2# cut of shellac. If you are going to stain it after the dye, then I would use only a 1/2# cut so the dye isn’t completely blocked.

I frequently use trans tint dyes in denatured alcohol instead of water as a medium. If you use an alcohol base, you can also add 10% of a 2#cut of shellac directly to the dye solution to act as a sealer. However, most people think that using alcohol as a base works better if you’re spraying the finish (which I do) rather than brushing or rubbing it in.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2829 days

#8 posted 07-07-2014 01:03 PM

I’d just use a few cut-offs of the same stock that your project is made with, and experiment to see what works best

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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