using water soluble Lockwood dyes

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by jerryo posted 03-05-2013 08:38 AM 2697 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jerryo's profile


135 posts in 3164 days

03-05-2013 08:38 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question oak finishing

I am making a white oak end table and was considering finishing it with lockwood dye. This would be my first
time using a water soluble dye and was wondering if anyone that has used them has any info they would like to share. Thanks, Jerry

8 replies so far

View RogerM's profile


799 posts in 2600 days

#1 posted 03-05-2013 03:08 PM

Jerry – I use a lot of water soluable analine dyes (mosty Moser’s). These take a little getting used to but after some practice you will probably prefer them over some of the spirit stains. These dyes are especially good on maple and pecan and are one of the main ingredients for bringing out the curl in curly maple. They are very user friendly, allowing you to vary the color simply by varying the amount of dye mixed with water. I try and use distilled water to avoid any reaction with minerals in the water. Also, once applied you can vary the color on the piece by applying more water (by rag or sponge) to reduce or lighten the color or put more dye on to darken the color. Before applying the dye a general rule of thumb is to stop sanding at around 150 grit sandpaper. Sanding much beyond this reduces the absorption rate in wood. Don’t lose faith on the first application. After the first coat dries, it will look dull and lifeless. Remember, you are just aiming for the color. After achieving the color you want, I use Seal Coat Shellac sealer dilluted with equal parts of alcohol. After rubbing this out you may apply Polyurethane of other finishes of your choosing. Please see for a brief description on how I finish curly maple. Hope this helps with your project. Contact me if I can be of further assistance.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2571 days

#2 posted 03-05-2013 03:33 PM

I’ve used TransTint powder dyes, and I think Roger nailed it. The only thing he said that needs to be stressed is to get the color you want, and understand that your workpiece will look dull and lifeless after the dye is applied, and not to worry, it will look amazing once a topcoat is applied.

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

View jerryo's profile


135 posts in 3164 days

#3 posted 03-05-2013 05:19 PM

Thanks guys. Roger, I remember your curly maple cabinets, they are truly a piece of art work. Would you recommend using grain filler on the oak or do you think sanding to 150 is enough?

View RogerM's profile


799 posts in 2600 days

#4 posted 03-05-2013 08:43 PM

Jerry – The grain filler is a matter of preference. Oaks are open grain woods but White Oak is a little less so than Red Oak. Using a filler can be a bit of trouble and a bit messy but it yields a much smoother surface usually filling most of the pores that are associated with open grain woods. You may also consider using the filler on just the top surface of a table or desk so that it would be easier to write on. My thoughts are that you would use the filler to give a little more formal look to a piece. Although I have used paste wood fillers in the past, especially on walnut, I find that I am using it less and less on my projects. I have not had much experience with the new clear fillers but they sound like a good solution to the age old issues of filling pores. From an experience point of view, finish up a few pieces using the filler, not using the filler, using several concentrations, etc. One way to do this (if you don’t have a lot of extra stock) is to try these finishes on the back side of drawers, the underside of the top, or the back piece of of a drawer. I keep a lot of finish samples or varoius woods in a drawer noting the concentration measurements, etc. so I can come close in repeating some of the finishes that have worked well for me. Stay in touch. I would like to know how this works out for you.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2891 days

#5 posted 03-06-2013 02:25 AM

Many pore/grain fillers (like Timbermate) are water soluble so the water based dye will dissolve them!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3946 days

#6 posted 03-06-2013 02:31 AM

I use water based dyes exclusively on white oak. No filler. I seal the dye with a couple of coats of 100% tung oil, then top with a wipe on varnish mix. Get it sealed good or the dye will spot if you spill anything on it.

View jerryo's profile


135 posts in 3164 days

#7 posted 03-06-2013 07:23 AM

Thanks for the info gfavdm and tenontim, Roger I will keep in touch and let you know how it worked out, thanks for the info

View restored's profile


53 posts in 2294 days

#8 posted 02-05-2014 04:57 PM

All very helpful. I am just starting to use wood dyes myself to add real bright colors to items like wine stoppers, pens, and even my birdhouses after I begin to master using them. Or at least a reasonable understanding of different grain woods, and adjusting color, and keeping the beauty of the grain alive. This has been a good start, I have played a little with the alcohol dye and wasn’t real happy with it, I didn’t real see or feel that it penetrated the grain of the wood. I was using a straight tight grain wood (black cherry) however.
The initial cost is not cheap, but of course I want to purchase at least 10 colors right off so I can play with different colors. Any suggestions on where to buy. I have access from Rockler, PSI ,Crafts, & woodcraft. Do any of these companies offer kits which lower the cost, in the water base form. Am I smart in leaning toward the water base if I’m looking for more penetration of the color into the wood.

-- KRT

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