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Finishing with poly and dyes

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Forum topic by Jofa posted 01-16-2015 02:52 PM 1212 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jofa

272 posts in 1298 days


01-16-2015 02:52 PM

Hey all.

I have a new build for a client and would like to get your take on it.

It will be a guitar speaker cabinet that holds dual 12” speakers mounted horizontally. Typically with these guitar cabs, they have an open back design which allows the sound to project better. Here’s an example of what a cabinet looks like:

This project will be done in clear pine and I will be using box joints to hold it together.

I’m very fond of Minwax oil based poly for these projects and I will likely go that route again. The poly makes the wood a little darker but I’d like to take it a couple of steps further. I want to get to a bit of an amber color to the wood. I know I can stain it but I’m concerned that the stain would make the end grain too dark. I was wondering about maybe dyeing the poly (or perhaps there are off-the-shelf finishes that are specifically designed for this).

I will be using a small spray gun and I typically lay on a good number of coats, wet sanding to get where I want to be.

Suggestions are greatly appreciated.

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.


18 replies so far

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1159 posts in 2150 days


#1 posted 01-16-2015 03:33 PM

A coat of shellac will add that amber tint, then top coat with poly.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

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Jofa

272 posts in 1298 days


#2 posted 01-16-2015 03:54 PM

Thanks very much. See that’s why this place is awesome.

Ok… I looked up shellac and apparently it comes in flakes and has to be mixed with ethanol. Apparently it’s used as a primer / sealer as well. Is it possible to spray? Also, I assume the more coats I lay down, the darker it will get.

Can you suggest a good place to buy? Thanks again. I think this is what I’ll go with. Appears to come in a number of shades.

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1449 days


#3 posted 01-16-2015 04:01 PM

I use shellac with Transtint dyes to tone. With pine, no matter what you use to stain/finish, use a clear sealer for blotch control. Pine is the worst wood I know of for blotching. I prefer a WB sealer because I can get full penetration in all areas, getting the sealer to “stand on the surface”, including end grain, which then gives even penetration of the color. Shellac or other solvent sealers evaporate so quickly you don’t know which areas actually need more to seal up. I typically use a WB topcoat lacquer or poly thinned 50% with water, and there are some glue sizing recipes around using standard wood glues.

Sealing the surface properly, you could probably use a Minwax or other solvent stain. For end grain, sand up to 600 and then burnish the end grain. I use a polished surface on a nail pry bar for flat surfaces and a spoon that fits for curved surfaces – test it out, you may be surprised how much it limits end grain absorption. Anything smooth and hard can be used to burnish.

Shellac can be used to tone over the WB sealer. You can get Zinsser Sealcoat at the box stores, and Woodcraft carries Transtint dyes if you don’t like online ordering. I use shellac flakes from shellacshack.com. Since you will be topcoating the shellac, DO NOT use the Zinsser Bullseye. The wax is still in it and can cause adhesion issues with topcoats. Sealcoat is dewaxed. Flake shellac is dewaxed, and button shellac still has wax in it.

Since you like a thicker film finish to sand back, and you spray, you may want to consider using WB poly. It allows for much faster film build vs solvent. Not quite as durable, but it has held up well on some dinner table tops I have done. I use Target Coatings EM9000, others seem to like Rustoleum Ultimate poly that is available at box stores.

If you decide to try WB finishes, they need something under them to pop the grain. Shellac is excellent for this, as is Target’s WR4000 stain base, a water emulsion linseed oil product that looks like BLO buts dries much faster and can have Transtint dyes added directly for desired color.

There a many, many options available, and none of them are difficult.

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Jofa

272 posts in 1298 days


#4 posted 01-16-2015 06:02 PM

OSU55, thanks very much. I added questions in bold:

I use shellac with Transtint dyes to tone. With pine, no matter what you use to stain/finish, use a clear sealer for blotch control. This is where I get a little confused. I thought that a sealer would prevent stain from entering the wood and might just sit on the surface.

Pine is the worst wood I know of for blotching. I prefer a WB sealer because I can get full penetration in all areas, getting the sealer to “stand on the surface”, including end grain, which then gives even penetration of the color. Shellac or other solvent sealers evaporate so quickly you don’t know which areas actually need more to seal up. I typically use a WB topcoat lacquer or poly thinned 50% with water, and there are some glue sizing recipes around using standard wood glues. I have this weird fear of WB stuff for some reason. I’ve ruined a couple of projects using WB poly and I’m not fond of the lack of durability compared to OB.

Sealing the surface properly, you could probably use a Minwax or other solvent stain. For end grain, sand up to 600 and then burnish the end grain. I use a polished surface on a nail pry bar for flat surfaces and a spoon that fits for curved surfaces – test it out, you may be surprised how much it limits end grain absorption. Anything smooth and hard can be used to burnish. This is a fantastic idea! Makes total sense. I did a search on burnishing and it seems there are a number of ways to do it. Very cool!

Shellac can be used to tone over the WB sealer. You can get Zinsser Sealcoat at the box stores, and Woodcraft carries Transtint dyes if you don’t like online ordering. I use shellac flakes from shellacshack.com. Since you will be topcoating the shellac, DO NOT use the Zinsser Bullseye. The wax is still in it and can cause adhesion issues with topcoats. Sealcoat is dewaxed. Flake shellac is dewaxed, and button shellac still has wax in it. I’ve used OB poly for sealing on other projects (sometimes straight and sometimes cut with thinner if spraying). I assume I can use the shellac with tint and then sand it back??

Since you like a thicker film finish to sand back, and you spray, you may want to consider using WB poly. It allows for much faster film build vs solvent. Not quite as durable, but it has held up well on some dinner table tops I have done. I use Target Coatings EM9000, others seem to like Rustoleum Ultimate poly that is available at box stores.

If you decide to try WB finishes, they need something under them to pop the grain. Shellac is excellent for this, as is Target’s WR4000 stain base, a water emulsion linseed oil product that looks like BLO buts dries much faster and can have Transtint dyes added directly for desired color.

There a many, many options available, and none of them are difficult.

Again, thank you!!!!

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

8294 posts in 3107 days


#5 posted 01-16-2015 06:29 PM

Shellac can be sprayed but for a small job the cleanup costs
may be considered as you may have to run a lot of alcohol
through your sprayer to get the shellac out.

It can be applied evenly with a cotton cloth however. I do
this all the time. It gets under the fingernails and sticks
to a rubber glove so for smaller jobs I hold the “tampon”
with a hemostat.

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

7696 posts in 2302 days


#6 posted 01-16-2015 06:35 PM

FYI,

Charles Neil put out a YouTube video on finishing pine, which is actually one of the hardest woods to work with.

I might suggest experimenting with sealer. You can get Zissner floor sealer which is a higher de-waxed shellac to alcohol solution. It can be thinned as well.

Charles also sells a “blotch control” You can purchase it at his webstie.

Good luck!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1449 days


#7 posted 01-16-2015 10:04 PM

Jofa:

This is where I get a little confused. I thought that a sealer would prevent stain from entering the wood and might just sit on the surface. #1 the sealer is diluted by water or solvent, which evaporates, leaving the finish/binder behind. This somewhat inhibits stain penetration, but doesn’t block it. The stain can go where the solvent or water evaporated. #2 you sand the surface, removing some or almost all of the sealer. The sealer soaks in to different depths across the surface (which is what causes blotching with stain). When sanded back, the surface will much more uniformly accept the stain.

I have this weird fear of WB stuff for some reason. I’ve ruined a couple of projects using WB poly and I’m not fond of the lack of durability compared to OB. Not unusual to “fear” the unknown. If you used WB finish on a project before playing with it and testing it on a “storyboard”, that was your 1st mistake. I never try a new finishing technique on a project – it’s tested until I’m comfortable with how it will behave. I keep boards of different woods and ply samples to experiment with. Yes WB is different, but nothing to fear. Learning how to use WB is the key. For using as a sealer, there is nothing to fear. Simply thin the selected product 50% with water, apply by brush, roller, spray, dumping, cloth, whatever, move it around on the surface until nothing more is being absorbed, and wipe it off. It will usually dry within an hour and can be sanded. The ability to keep it “liquid” and move it around, allowing the wood to decide how much it will take, is why I like WB (finish or glue size) over solvent for sealing.

I’ve used OB poly for sealing on other projects (sometimes straight and sometimes cut with thinner if spraying). I assume I can use the shellac with tint and then sand it back?? If you decide to use shellac as a sealer, do not tint it. You want the sealer clear as possible to get more uniform color of the finished surface. I recommend a WB sealer as stated above. Solvent poly could be used, and would need to be thinned about 75%. It will take at least several hours for all the solvent to evaporate and the poly to begin to set. WB sealers are superior.

After sealing is when you could use the tinted shellac. I actually prefer to use a stain 1st, then tinted shellac to darken or shade in light areas for uniformity, and to really pop the grain. It’s been a while since I finished pine, and I don’t recall just how the shellac will behave as the base color vehicle. It’s quick drying behavior is great when toning, but can do unwanted things as the 1st coat on a substrate. I like a stain/dye that has some open time to create the base color.

Whatever you choose, do 2 things:

1. Make a finish schedule. This is a step by step list of every step involved in the finish process, in order. If you sand with 120, then 220, then 320, then 600, each is a different step. It includes all sealing, staining, toning, shading, glazing, topcoats, etc. I have the finish schedule, including specific products used and stain/tint colors and mix ratios, for all projects going back years, so that I can look at a piece, know how it was done, and how to change the look if I want.

2. Practice and test any finish schedule changes on the same wood as the project until you are comfortable with the results. Yes it’s time consuming. Did you learn how to make/build your projects overnight? Don’t expect to learn finishing techniques overnight. As you do more and more practice and testing, you get more comfortable with how things interact and do or don’t change the results much.

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upinflames

209 posts in 1621 days


#8 posted 01-16-2015 10:22 PM

I bet you can go with the Zinsser seal coat, or order some orange flakes( shellacshack), shoot it, then the poly and you’re done. Yeah, didn’t even mention blotch control crap did I…..

View pjones46's profile

pjones46

986 posts in 2102 days


#9 posted 01-17-2015 12:11 AM

+1 upinflames and +1 Earlextech
If you want add some transtint Liquid Dyes for shading #6000 AMBER, or #6001 HONEY AMBER, or #6009 DARK VINTAGE MAPLE to the shellac and shoot it. After shellac dried top finsh with your Poly. Do some samples for the color tests and make sure you write down your formula for later referral.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View Jofa's profile

Jofa

272 posts in 1298 days


#10 posted 01-23-2015 05:46 PM

Thanks very much guys.

OSU55, I always heard you shouldn’t mix oil and water on a project. Are you saying I can use diluted Polycrylic as a sealer, knock it down and then lay OB poly on top of it?

If so, that’s great because I have a quart of the Polycrylic sitting in my shop left unused because I swore off it. :)

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1449 days


#11 posted 01-24-2015 02:29 PM

Oil and water can be layered on a project, there are fairly easy methods to do it. Using a thinned WB topcoat product as a sealer is no issue at all. As previously stated, test your method 1st. Just a side note – don’t swear off WB finishes because of the Minwax Polycrylic – that’s about the poorest WB that exists. WB’s have their pro’s and con’s, but I find a lot of uses for them. Solvent vs WB depends on the particular application. It’s also an entirely separate discussion. Good luck!

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Jofa

272 posts in 1298 days


#12 posted 02-03-2015 08:15 PM

OSU55, I gave it a shot.

Used the lonely Polycrylic and actually did a 50/50 dilution with water. I used a cotton rag to wipe it on and then knocked it down with some 180 grit (but very lightly).

Laid a few coats of OB poly over it and it’s fantastic. Note, I haven’t tried the dye as of yet. That’s tonight’s project.

I saw a couple of ways to do it. There was a video of a woodworker who did a “dry spray” of the dye on bare wood and it looked great. However, I’m going to try a mixture of dye with the WB poly to see what that will get me. I’m using Rit which is water based as well.

I’ll post results. Thanks again.

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

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OSU55

1056 posts in 1449 days


#13 posted 02-03-2015 08:27 PM

Glad it worked out for you. I prefer to brush (foam or bristle) the 50% sealer and flood the surface until it won’t soak up anymore, then wipe off and let dry. What dye are you mixing with the OB poly? Or are you going to apply Rit mixed with water, then poly over that?

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Jofa

272 posts in 1298 days


#14 posted 02-03-2015 08:37 PM

Well, after I posted I thought, wait a minute… I need some kind of vehicle to hold the dye aside from the water.

The Rit dye is in liquid form (water based). So my thinking was, if I knock back the 50/50 sealer on the project with the 180 grit, I may be able to dye it to where “enough” gets through to the actual wood fibers. Bottom line is I’m concerned about blotches because it’s clear pine.

The other option I have is to add the dye to the WB poly mixture or simply add it to straight WB poly.

Help… :)

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

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OSU55

1056 posts in 1449 days


#15 posted 02-04-2015 01:48 AM

I hope you are doing this on a test/scrap piece and not a project. You can just add water to the Rit dye and apply to the sealed wood. You can also use Alcohol, but water will work better unless you spray. More coats can be added to gain color, but it is limited. The dye already in the wood will go in solution with the water to a degree. How much surface area do you have to test with? I’ve tried out different techniques, etc on small 3” x 3” pieces, or just mark up a surface like tic tac toe and try some different things. This allows trying the dye with, water, with WB poly, different strengths, etc.

Testing different finishing techniques and products is time consuming, but I have found it well worth my time. All of my testing and notes allow me to do techniques with predictable outcomes. Unless you are under time constraints, take your time and learn some new things.

While the Rit will work, I recommend Transtint dyes – a lot more lighfast and predictable. Some say the powder aniline dyes are cheaper, but not from what I can tell, and the Transtints are already mixed and strained, and easier to use.

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