Stain and finish question - for walnut

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by driftwoodhunter posted 01-26-2011 06:52 AM 1828 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2711 days

01-26-2011 06:52 AM

Not sure I’m posting this in the right forum, but here goes;

I have some black walnut that will need to be finished. I have a test piece I just played with – I put two coats of Watco on it.
My questions are; I’ve read that dye brings out the figure and stain brings out the grain. I think I have that right? I want to paint in oils over the initial stain or dye, then seal with a spar/uv inhibitor. Has anyone here tried anything like that? I have never used dyes, and I wonder if they would accept a layer of oil paint. I know the Watco will. I love the look of the Watco, but the test wood didn’t have any figure in it like the other boards do, so I don’t know if it will bring out the figure, or only grain.
Before anyone freaks out about me covering up good wood with oil paint, I am only translucently painting a life sized bird on a sprig of pine, off on the far ends of 71” boards. lol
These boards will be in front of windows, often open, thus the spar/uv sealer.

10 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3767 days

#1 posted 01-26-2011 06:59 AM

I havent used oil paints, but it is common to use a sealcoat of shellac to seal the colors of your dye/stain combo. followed by whatever film finish someone wants whether more shellac or laquer, varnish, poly etc.

Sounds like a cool project, look forward to seeing it.

I would PM Shipwright – he has done a lot of coloring and staining so he could comment on compatibility

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2711 days

#2 posted 01-26-2011 07:05 AM

Thanks –
I’ve never used shellac, but I was under the impression that it fogged or bloomed in humid conditions, so I was going to avoid it because of the placement of the boards. Even under varnish or poly I would’ve though it would respond to occasions of high humidity.
I’ll pm Shipwright and check his blogs/projects. Thanks for the tip!

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2823 days

#3 posted 01-26-2011 07:30 AM

DrDirt gives me a bit too much credit, but thanks. I am just experimenting with dye in marquetry but I think that to answer your question I could say that I’m pretty sure that oil based paints over an aniline dye would be fine. The dye could be smeared by a water or alcohol based product but I have wiped oil based poly over “watercolor style” dying and it doesn’t hurt the dye. I would however invite you to help me develop this style of dying. There’s a lot more to learn and from my internet searches, I can’t find anyone else that’s tried it.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2711 days

#4 posted 01-26-2011 07:41 AM

Hmmm, that’s interesting
I have never used the dyes, I don’t know if I can get them at Lowes or HD (all we have around here). I’m chomping at the bit to get started, I hope I don’t have to wait, shopping the internet.
Any ideas on the color of dye to use? I tried some leftover Watco “medium walnut” on my test piece of walnut. It’s nice, but maybe a tad too dark. I am unfamiliar with dye colors.
If the dye is water or alcohol based it may not bleed into thin wet oils paint. Traditionally, oils can go over water based paints, but never the other way around. This is because oils take longer to cure/dry than water based pigment. When the pigment’s medium (water/alcohol) evaporates, the pigment typically stays put. Then an oil glaze can be applied over it without smearing. Of course there can be exceptions. However, if the oil base goes down first, it’s pigments loosen when a quick drying topcoat is applied.
I’m going to post some pics tomorrow when I’m not so sleepy, to better illustrate what I want to do.
I love to experiment, I think exploring this will be a blast!

So this is what I’m thinking of; aniline dye on the walnut to bring out figure. Oil paint imagery over the dye. Oil based spar/uv poly over the whole thing to bring out the grain. The poly will have to be oil because the paints are oil. (I love oil based finishes anyway)

View swirt's profile


2780 posts in 2997 days

#5 posted 01-26-2011 08:59 PM

I think the paint over the stain (if the stain were alcohol or water based) would be fine.

If you have some scraps though, experiment with the color and finish. Spar poly tends to add its own color and due to the UV inhibitors tends to be a wee bit cloudier than other forms of poly.

-- Galootish log blog,

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2711 days

#6 posted 01-26-2011 09:15 PM

Ok, I’ll post a few pics, I warn you they’re fuzzy. I took them this morning before coffee – lol

I have a post in a forum about tools, and what my priorities should be. Some posters have brought up an excellent and obvious (but not to me at the time) thought; I need to decide what I want to do, and get tools to do the job. So I have to spend some time thinking about what is is I really want to say with wood. All I have right now is a vague desire to meld my other art/craft skills into one unified project – hopefully a saleable one in time.
I thought of things like small tables, boxes, picture frames, etc. with open panels that will take inserts, or inlays, relief carved details. All with a nature theme.
The few pics I show here are leftover displays from years ago, when I used to do dog shows. 90% of my sales were commission, I would photograph specific show dogs & do custom items.
I grew to hate commission work, I don’t know if I’d do so much again.

The bottom pic is kiln fired slumped glass (can’t tell from the pic, but it is a shallow curved plate) 12” or so across. The middle pic is a hand pressed tile with a leaf imprint – about 4” x 11”. Sitting on the scrap walnut an ebayer sent me. The top is an oil painting of a Dogue De Bordeaux, 12” x 16”

I still can’t get the hang of getting te pics to post at the bottom, sorry.
I saw trefern’s awesome 2 dye 4 process of using dyes, I can’t wait to experiment!

View doorslammer's profile


108 posts in 3594 days

#7 posted 01-26-2011 09:31 PM

If all you want to do is enhance the figure of the walnut I would not even mess with a stain or dye at all. Either choice is going to clound the natural grain pattern to some extent. I would sand to 320 or 400 grit, burnish the surface with 0000 steel wool and then apply a couple thin coats of boiled linseed oil to darken and bring out the figure of the walnut. Then you could seal with shellac or poly before painting.

-- Aaron in TN -

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2711 days

#8 posted 01-26-2011 09:43 PM

I’m going to try that on the reverse side of that scrap piece in an above pic. I doubt I can paint on the poly, so I’ll try painting over the linseed oil after it’s nearly dry. After all, boiled linseed oil is a traditional painting medium for oils – it’s probably a natural fit. I’m thinking that if the linseed oil isn’t totally dry, it will help wick the oil pigments into the wood pores, without bleeding. When applying boiled linseed oil for a wood finish, do you flood, let it sit, and wipe off the excess? How many coats are typical, and what kind of drying time am I looking at? (we’re experiencing about 65% and up humidity lately. Actually it’s snowing today) Thanks!

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2711 days

#9 posted 01-26-2011 10:39 PM

Any opinions on the differences, pros & cons, of tung oil, polyermized tung oil, and boiled linseed oil?
I’m reading what I can in old posts, and one mentions that boiled linseed oil never actually cures/dries. True?
What are the consequences of this?
Can these be final finishes, or do they have to be topped with shellac, wax, or poly? It’s a personal thing, but I generally dislike glossy surfaces – the exception being the stunning turned vessels by trefern that I saw.
I like a soft satiny buffed surface. Due to the proximity to the windows, I’m thinking a final coat of shellac or buffed wax is out of the question…
can layers of straight or diluted oil based satin poly work over these oils successfully?

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3075 days

#10 posted 01-29-2011 05:36 AM

Oil over oil is just fine. The main concern is letting the subfinish cure/dry fully before covering it with poly (in a nutshell).

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics