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Forum topic by JimT posted 12-03-2011 06:00 PM 1171 views 1 time favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 3873 days

12-03-2011 06:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dye stain question

I built three bookcase / knick-knack storage units for my mother in law. Here’s a picture of one…

They are 72” tall, 30” wide, and 14” deep, and are constructed from maple ply with maple edging. As seen in the picture of one of them, they contain a number of divided areas that will be used to hold things other than books. Other units have smaller divided areas
She wants the finished color to be a deep mahogany or dark cherry stain.

Here’s what I was thinking for finishing options, together with what I believe will be the problems:

1) Dying: If I wipe/brush on dye, I imagine the long sides will end up with overlap areas and uneven application. My solution was to spray them, but I know the spryer won’t fit into the divided areas and I’m concerned about spraying some parts, and dying others.

2) Staining: Having spent way too much time researching stains, I’m concerned the stain will “muddy” the grain of the wood. However, I would settle for a slight “muddy” look if I could wipe the entire piece with possibly a gel stain and ensure even application and coloring.

Anyone have any thoughts/suggestions/something I haven’t thought of yet? I’ve been looking at these things for three months and its time to get them out of my basement!

Thanks, JimT

5 replies so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3769 days

#1 posted 12-07-2011 06:42 PM

Jim, I’m a fan of using water base dyes.You should wipe down the piece with a damp paper towel first, to raise the grain, then sand with 320+ sandpaper. I apply it with a foam brush and follow that with a damp blue paper towel, to blend in the color. I follow that with a dry paper towel to help it dry quicker. Do this as many times as needed to get the color you’re after.

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Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2875 days

#2 posted 12-07-2011 07:26 PM

I am pleased we have the expertise of Tim here.

I would like to know the what wood he would have chosen as a canvas to get the color you’re looking for.

In my experience, maple is happiest with no color on it.

60 – 70 years ago maple furniture was all the rage, and it was shot with pigmented stains, usually reddish. Some think that’s an easy step for maple, but a guy in a shop, with a piece like this, would have a hard time getting even results with those kinds of products.

Good question, Jim. I’m eager to read more input from our helpful posters.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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2131 posts in 3769 days

#3 posted 12-07-2011 08:59 PM

Lee, to get the color Jim wanted, I would have used cherry, ply and lumber, to build these cases. Then I would have applied potassium dichromate in the same manner that I described to apply the dye. This will give the cherry that 100 year old patina.

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10 posts in 3873 days

#4 posted 12-08-2011 02:13 AM

Tim & Lee thanks for the replies, I thought my question might be DOA. I used maple ply and edging because it was much cheaper and more available then cherry.
What are your thoughts on General Finishes water based stains? Black cherry is the color I’m after and I thought a stain might leave less potential for blotchiness or lap marks (ormy ability to screw this up). On the other hand, Tim’s method seems like it might eliminate lap marks (I’m new to dye) I’m planing on trying Charles Neil’s blotch control to help with the botching… But would be interested in your opinions before I pull the trigger.
Thanks, Jim.

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2131 posts in 3769 days

#5 posted 12-08-2011 03:04 AM

Jim, if you use a water based dye, it’s not recommended that you use a water base finish, unless you seal it. I haven’t looked at Charles’ method for blotch control, although that’s always a problem with maple. The deal with stains is they won’t get the finish as dark as you can with dyes. If you’re looking for a dark finish, you may have to mix the dye on the strong side and use several coats to get the darkness you’re after. Highland Hardware has a complete supply of the Arti dyes and a color chart you can look at to find your color. I know the cherry is way light. The mahogany may be a little darker. Find something that looks like what you want.

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