Help with Trans Tint Dye

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 10-02-2013 12:32 AM 5602 views 2 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Charlie's profile


38 posts in 1133 days

10-02-2013 12:32 AM

This will be my first time using TransTint dye and I need all the help I can get to be successful. My project is a kitchen hutch made out of black walnut. I have never used dye before and I don’t have a spray system so the application will be by hand. Not sure if this this step is needed but the second layer will be a sanding sealer followed by a walnut gel stain. I haven’t considered a top coat yet but open to all suggestions. Pictured is the bottom half of the hutch with tip out bins.

Thanks, Charlie

14 replies so far

View dahenley's profile


135 posts in 1514 days

#1 posted 10-02-2013 01:25 AM

i have not delt with walnut…
but i have used it with maple. and i used water and transtint. (some people use alcohol)

it will raise the grain, so you might go over your piece with a moist rag to pre-raise the grain and sand before doing the transtint (unless you plan on sanding after the tint)

i am by far a beginner and have little experience in the finish department (i leave that to others)
but it was very easy and i didnt end up with any spots or blemishes.
i am actually planning on using it again on my current project

-- David Henley

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 1270 days

#2 posted 10-02-2013 04:09 PM

You shouldn’t need a sealer coat in this case. Walnut generally isn’t prone to blotching. Furthermore, your gel stain, assuming that it’s oil based, shouldn’t interfere with the dye. If the gel stain is waterborne, then that’s another matter. In that case, I’d use a spray can of shellac to seal in the dye before you apply the gel stain. Be aware of the fact, though, that the sealer coat can prevent you from getting as dark a colour with your gel stain as you might like. Finally, beware of the fact that some topcoats, especially those that use water, alcohol or lacquer thinner as their solvent/thinner can disturb trans tint dyes. Again, a light coat of shellac from a spray can will help to seal in the dye and prevent the top coat from lifting it.

View Gary's profile


8965 posts in 2854 days

#3 posted 10-02-2013 04:22 PM

I’m just curious…. why are you coloring walnut?

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2234 days

#4 posted 10-02-2013 04:23 PM

Pre-raise the grain, pre-raise the grain, pre-raise the grain.
Did I mention to pre-raise the grain?

1+ wipe it down with water before doing anything. Then sand it again.
Apply your water based dye with a spray bottle. Wipe off the excess. Allow to dry 24 hrs.
Apply the gel stain, let dry 24 hrs.
Apply topcoat, allow to cure for 48 hrs.
Wax with #0000 steel wool.

I strongly recommend a sample board taken all the way through topcoat. A topcoat will effect the look of your project. I prefer sprayed lacquer, however since you don’t want to spray you can investigate wipe on finishes.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Charlie's profile


38 posts in 1133 days

#5 posted 10-05-2013 11:56 PM

I did some sample boards and came up with a tint that I like that is not to dark but still blends in the sapwood. I mixed up the dye in an alcohol base and wiped on by hand. I then put on a light coat of sanding sealer, sanded and then the oil base gel stain. It has a nice deep brown color with a hint of red. I haven’t put on the clear finish yet, wanted to let it cure for a few days. I still have plenty of dye left over to try with a water base after pre raising the grain as recommended to see what effect that has.

Pintodeluxe: What is the advantages of pre-raising the grain over using the dye with an alcohol base that will not raise the grain. Can I use Deft Spray lacquer from the can?
Gary: Some of the walnut has sapwood (see picture) so I want to tone it down a bit.

View JAAune's profile


1614 posts in 1737 days

#6 posted 10-06-2013 07:19 PM

There are a few advantages to using water for the carrier. One is expense, the other is to eliminate toxic and flammable fumes (still should use a respirator if spraying). I like it because it’s easier to apply the color evenly with water than with alcohol due to the slower evaporation rate. I flood on the dye then wipe off the excess before it starts to dry.

-- See my work at and

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 1534 days

#7 posted 10-06-2013 08:15 PM

Over a larger area water based dyes are much easier to apply without lap marks, the alcohol dries very fast and can lead to come major problems if applying by hand. If you have the ability to spray it can be done either way without a problem.

Deft should work fine.

View Charlie's profile


38 posts in 1133 days

#8 posted 10-07-2013 01:24 AM

At this point I have two options: I could get a retarder for the batch I have mixed up or I could start fresh and mix up a batch with DI water. I can always use the alcohol mix on smaller projects later down the road.

View Charlie's profile


38 posts in 1133 days

#9 posted 10-19-2013 01:47 PM

Thank you all for the help with this project, To see the results of the finish check out my projects page.


View Laughran's profile


65 posts in 1349 days

#10 posted 10-20-2013 12:35 PM

Do you think that the dye alone was enough to blend the lite and dark or do you still feel that the oil stain was needed? Would you do it different next time?

-- David

View Kv0nT's profile


84 posts in 1548 days

#11 posted 10-20-2013 01:33 PM

I use lacquer thinner aw my medium for the dye. All I would suggest is not to use water. Also be careful to apply evenly. It is a dye afterall and if you make an extra swipe in one area it can be noticable.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 1713 days

#12 posted 10-20-2013 01:46 PM

+1 for what Pintodelux recommended, especially BE SURE TO DO A SAMPLE/TEST BOARD FIRST! I’d recommend water because it gives you more working time and be sure to use distilled water so you don’t have a potential for chemical interactions and color changes as a result of minerals in tap water. I’d also do one sample board with just aniline dye alone and another with gel stain added to see which I liked best and to determine if the gel stain was even needed. Just my thoughts.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Charlie's profile


38 posts in 1133 days

#13 posted 10-22-2013 09:25 AM

I pre raised the grain with water and then sanded. I then used the dye mixed with DI water and applied with a rag. Sanding sealer went on next full strenth. I must say that I tested a scrap board first with, and then without the sealer and although many will say I didn’t need it, I liked the way the sealer made the surface “baby butt smooth”. I then used the gel stain which I think inhanced the color of the dye under it. I then finished off with a gel topcoat.

View Blackie_'s profile


4527 posts in 1933 days

#14 posted 10-22-2013 09:38 AM

I think I understand why now the dye, blend all colors together to a single color, I don’t know if I’d make any changes myself, to me the sap would be a great contrast, it that weren’t the case seems it’d be easier to dig / purchase matching colors to start and not worry about the dye.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

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