Need tips for first time dying maple...

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Forum topic by BinghamtonEd posted 11-30-2011 05:03 PM 6373 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2298 posts in 2610 days

11-30-2011 05:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: maple transfast finish question

Hello! First time poster long time lurker, and being as I am about to finish my largest project to date, I figured I should sign up and say hi.

I’ve built a shelving system for under our wall-mounted TV, it is two-tiered. The bottom row of sheves is 6 feet long, the top is 4 feet. It is constructed completely of maple (no ply). I’ve decided to go with this Transfast dye to finish it :

My plan is to give all the pieces one final sanding to 220 grit, then apply the dye liberally with a sponge to each piece, squeeze out the sponge, and wipe off, sand with 320, and repeat as necessary until I get my desired color. The product description says it can be top-coated with just about anything. Any suggestions? I would like some gloss to it, but not something that looks super thick. Something like this sheen :

I’m new to all of this, so I’m open to all sorts of suggestions or critiques about my approach.


-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

7 replies so far

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3291 days

#1 posted 12-02-2011 02:30 AM

If you’re looking for easy, wiping varnish or shellac. Control the gloss of either by rubbing down the last coat with 0000 steel wool and paste wax.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3315 days

#2 posted 12-02-2011 02:56 AM

I don’t mean to discourage you, especially since you are a first time poster. However, the best advice I can give you on dying is “don’t”.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View RogerM's profile


799 posts in 2639 days

#3 posted 12-02-2011 03:22 AM

Ed – First, welcome aboard. In response to your question, I dye a lot of maple and am currently finishing a set of curly maple cabinets using Mosers Analine Dye 844890 W1560, Lt Golden Br Walnut, Water Soluable. I have used this dye almost extensively on maple. You can mix it in various concentrations with water for varied result tending toward the golds and browns. It is quite effective in bringing out the figure in maple, especially curly maple. I usually put on the first coat over wood that has been sanded to 180 grit (the higher the final bare wood sanding the less absorption). I usually put on two coats for even coverage sanding with 320 between coats. After drying overnight I usually sand with 320 to 400 grit then go with a coat of dilute shelac (one part Seal Coat shelac sealer and one part alcohol). Rub this down with 00 steelwool then go with 3 coats rubbing polyurethane. I use one part Minwax Semi Gloss Polyurethane to one part mineral spirits. Let the final coat cure overnight then apply Minwax Finishing Wax with 0000 steelwool and buff. This should give you the finish you are looking for.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2610 days

#4 posted 12-02-2011 03:57 PM

Thanks for all of tips! I put down 3 coats of the dye on a scrap piece last night and got results that I liked, tonight I am going to apply the shellac to the test piece and see how it turns out. I was wondering what to put on top of the shellac as a final coat, and I think I am going to give Roger’s suggestion of poly/ms a shot.

Rich – I did some searching and the general consensus that I got was that dye was going to be my best option for a wood such as maple with very small pores. If the best advice you can give is “don’t”, that’s not very helpful at all and doesn’t add anything to the discussion. Care to elaborate?

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3559 days

#5 posted 12-02-2011 09:01 PM


I had the first reaction to the idea of dying wood that Rich did. Don’t. I am going to guess it is because he feels, like I do, that once you dye wood, your done, and there is no going back. You better be happy with the results, ‘cause whatcha see is whatcha get.

I dye my finish. If I screw that up I can always strip it and try again. I use water base finish and dye so it’s easy.

Then again, I don’t dye that much in the first place… ;)

Rich, is that what you meant too?

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2610 days

#6 posted 12-02-2011 09:08 PM

Thanks for the input Milo. That makes more sense, the reason I went with dye is because I wanted something that would go into the wood and really let the grain show, so with that I understand the risk you point out that comes with doing such. I’m still experimenting on a small scrap piece, and once I think I have the finish I want, I am going to do a larger piece (I have a left over 10”x15”x3/4” piece) for my final test run. I’ve done some smaller projects before and have used water-based finishes, never with dye, I just decided that I’d like to try something new. I do think that dying the wood before final assembly sound make it somewhat easier, since they are all flat pieces.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2610 days

#7 posted 12-07-2011 08:41 PM

Just an update, I applied the dye yesterday, and I am pleased with the results. Next will come a coat of amber, then clear, shellac. I tried a couple different methods of applying the dye on some test pieces, and the one that ended up working best for me was using a 4” foam brush to apply the dye. The first coat was light, and sanded down a bit with 320-grit to emphasize the grain. Then 2 normal coats and I got results that I was very pleased with.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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