I’ve been experimenting with spirit based wood dyes, as in the project ‘Any Colour You Like’. Mainly though I’ve been working with black. The long term aim is to see if I can substitute black dyed woods, such as Sycamore, for Ebony in my projects. Ebony is really expensive. I think this is mainly because of it’s overuse and therefore currently restricted supply. I use spirit based dye as this doesn’t raise wood grain in the same way water based dyes do. This allows for wood that is finished sanded to be coloured. This is the dye I’m using
This is readily available in the UK, made by Chestnut. As far as I know this is not available all around the world though I feel sure there must be local manufacturers of something similar.
Today’s experiment is based on a need to have adjacent ‘white’ and black sections of wood. Dyeing one piece first and then glue it to the undyed is the simple method. This can lead to alignment problems and glue on the wood surface. The dye does not penetrate very deeply (as will be seen) so re-finishing the wood is not an option. This led me to think of using one piece of wood and only dyeing a small section. For this you would need a very steady hand, something I don’t possess. My solution is to score the wood with a blade.
For this experiment I will be scoring along the grain, to different depths and dyeing one side of the line only. I hope the score line will prevent the dye spreading whilst being visually unobtrusive. Hopefully the wood grain will recover somewhat (closing the gap) whilst allowing the dye to dry first. I used a scrap piece of 3mm Maple.
The first line (leftmost) is scored once, the second twice and the third three time (or thrice in old English). Towards the bottom of the piece I did stray with the brush on the leftmost but the top half is representative of dye spread. By the time we get to the right (3 scores) the effect is reliable, the dye doesn’t spread over the line.
I have tried this along the grain only though I suspect the effect will be similar across the grain as the hollow fibres are cut stopping capillary action along the grain length. Now for dye penetration. There was a certain amount of overspill from the brush to the board edge
so I cut through the board halfway down, to exclude this possibility and sanded the edge to give an idea of how far the dye has penetrated. Remember this is one coat of dye on one side of the board.
I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to whether this is suitable for your own application. Suffice to say that in earlier experiments (during Any Colour You Like), using 0.5mm Birch ply and dyeing from both sides colour throughout the wood was fair but not bold when sanded in to the centre (.25mm down).
So now I feel confident that I can produce dyed/ natural wood on one piece with a sharply drawn border between the two colours (dyed and un-dyed).
That’s all for now.
Be seeing you.
-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com