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What top coat to use over dye?

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Forum topic by Walker posted 02-23-2018 04:36 AM 554 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Walker

146 posts in 590 days


02-23-2018 04:36 AM

Thinking about a future project. I’ll admit that finishing is that hardest part of a project for me. What I’m going for is a vibrant red, that still highlights the grain, with a high gloss top coat. The wood will be something quarter sawn. The nice folks at the local hardwood store pointed me towards dyes, which I have zero experience with but I’m always down to try new things. They told me to google Jeff Jewitt. They also recommend maple as it’s very light to start with, so it won’t add too much brown to the red dye. The plan is to do a bunch of test strips with maple, white oak, and cherry to see which blend I like best. I’m leaning towards Transtint since it’s available at the local place (and I like to support them), and Keda dyes seems like an other option.

I’ve quickly learned that there are infinite ways to use the dyes, so I’ll do my own experimenting, but feel to share your experiences on that. My main question here is what to use as a topcoat. This is for a dining room table, so preferable something water resistant, which points me to varnish Also, it’s interior but will see a lot of sunlight, so something for color protection. I like waterlox products, and have also had success with epifanes marine varnish. Would the waterlox marine varnish be overkill for indoors, would the original sealer be sufficient?

Right now I’m thinking mildly sand the wood, wet down, re-sand, transtint bright red in water mix, light coat of shellac to seal the dye, then several coats of one form or the other of waterlox.

This is pretty close to what I’m envisioning:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MX0i3Nn8r8

-- ~Walker


11 replies so far

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Manitario

2631 posts in 3000 days


#1 posted 02-23-2018 04:59 AM

That’s a nice looking finish; the oak in the pic above appears to have had a glaze applied after the dye to highlight the grain. If I was trying to imitate the above pic, I’d use dye/shellac/glaze then a topcoat. Essentially as a topcoat if you are sealing with shellac, you can use either water or oil based poly. You’ll have to play around with the dye; unless you spray the shellac on, when you brush or wipe it on, it’ll pull off some of the dye and lighten the colour.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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Walker

146 posts in 590 days


#2 posted 02-23-2018 06:58 AM

The pic is a screen shot from the video linked. In the video he mixes keda liquid dye with lacquer thinner, then sprays a can of Krylon Acrylic after the dye dried overnight.

When you say spray the shellac, would that include a rattle can spray? I currently don’t have any sort of spray tools. I do have an air compressor and I see there are some cheap (under $50) paint sprayer attachments available. Would that sort of thing work for spraying lacquer, shellac, etc? Or is this one of those areas where anything under the highest dollar products will just be useless and frustrating?

Sorry for sounding like a newb, it’s just that finishing is not an area I’ve delved deep into yet. Most of my projects just get clear danish oil and maybe a coat or two of clear poly.

-- ~Walker

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5069 posts in 2611 days


#3 posted 02-23-2018 11:52 AM

Some dyes will redissolve in shellac, hence the need to spray it….that’s true of waterborne finishes as well. The rattle can shellac will work to seal the dye from the subsequent top coats, that’s what you are trying to do. Once sealed you can put pretty much anything on it. Here’s the caution about the rattle can shellac: some finishes may hay an adhesion problem if the shellac isn’t dewaxed. This would be urethane resin finishes, and some waterbornes. You can get around the dewaxed problem by using a non-urethane varnish but be aware the varnish may give you an undesirable color shift. One I can think of that will minimize that color shift is Pratt and Lambert 38, it’s a soya oil/alkyd resin varnish and has a lot less of the amber than others; it’s also pretty hard to find. BTW, a spray gun on your compressor will work fine, you just have more overspray, in fact a lot of guns report great success using the Harbor Freight purple gun (about $20, I think) for spraying thinner finishes. One last thing, it might be worth trying to seal the dye with a clear spray acrylic like you mentioned from that link you found. I’ve not tried it, but it might work very well…and the acrylic will be crystal clear. Most shellac will have some color in it.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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chrisstef

17631 posts in 3124 days


#4 posted 02-23-2018 01:54 PM

IMO i would do a coat of water soluble black dye and sand it all the way back leaving only the grain lines with color in it, then i would lay a coat of red dye over that (maybe a couple coats), shellac on top of that then a gloss poly to finish it all off. Ive done a very similar finish on a small figured big leaf box. My red came out a little light however. Mix that at least double strength.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4926 posts in 2469 days


#5 posted 02-23-2018 02:05 PM

If your dye is water based and your varnish is oil based, you do not really need to seal the dye with shellac as they will not mix. As always test on scraps but it is my experience that you can skip that step with out problems of the dye bleeding into the varnish.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

7144 posts in 3269 days


#6 posted 02-23-2018 02:18 PM

You can seal it with spray can shellac if you dont have a sprayer. Obviously that works if its not a huge projects.

This my favorite finish now. Dye, Shellac (couple of coats to build faster), Water based poly (also dries fast).

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Walker's profile

Walker

146 posts in 590 days


#7 posted 02-23-2018 08:07 PM

Thanks for all the replies! This gives me a lot of things to try out. The table top will be relatively small 6’x3’, but still, with coating both sides that’s 36 sf of multiple coats is a lot to cover. I’ll probably buy a cheap spray gun and see what happens.

I’m still curious about the colorfastness of the dyes. Is it necessary to use a marine level product for UV protection, or would a regular poly or varnish be sufficient? Again, this will be indoors but in the sunlight.

-- ~Walker

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

1225 posts in 721 days


#8 posted 02-23-2018 08:17 PM


IMO i would do a coat of water soluble black dye and sand it all the way back leaving only the grain lines with color in it, then i would lay a coat of red dye over that (maybe a couple coats), shellac on top of that then a gloss poly to finish it all off. Ive done a very similar finish on a small figured big leaf box. My red came out a little light however. Mix that at least double strength.

- chrisstef


+1
Concept is the same as Charles Neil's trace coating technique. That will bring out the grain. Then finish however. I would agree with either double strength or double application of the red as it does seem to lighten as it soaks in.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Walker's profile

Walker

146 posts in 590 days


#9 posted 02-23-2018 09:34 PM

What a fantastic video, thanks for the link. He even talks about the quarter sawn at the end, which is what I’ll be using. Very helpful. Using the black first is a whole other technique to try. I’m going to need 10bf just to try all of these things!

-- ~Walker

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12331 posts in 2498 days


#10 posted 02-23-2018 09:40 PM

When I’ve used dyes, I follow with a light coat of spray shellac or lacquer. The spraying part is important because solvents in the finish can pull dye from the wood if brushing. Experiment on scrap first.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2387 posts in 1505 days


#11 posted 02-23-2018 11:35 PM

One of the most important things that CN said in the video was that in order to pop the grain, you have to have some grain to pop so if the maple you are experimenting with isn’t a figured maple, it will probably be pretty boring with dye, even if you use a black trace coat first.

I made a couple of gear shift knobs using Transtint dyes (in DNA) on figured maple in a way similar to the sun burst guitar finishes (black trace with red and yellow) but wanted a natural wood feel instead of a high gloss so I used Tried and True varnish oil, which is a true BLO + natural varnish mix, over the dye and it worked well. I got only minimal lift of the dye when applying the first coat. If you are going to use a single color (red), a good oil wipe on based finish will work as well if you don’t want to spray.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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