After spending over 100 hours perusing the Internet, another countless hours weeding through every woodworking magazine I have (going back to 1997), reading, even studying, Jeff Jewett's Finishing book, watching videos and posting questions on woodworking and finishing forums, I've come to the conclusion that when it comes to wood dyes, you're on your own.
I think the "help me" cries that go unanswered, through whatever means one pursues, is more a function of the infinite possibilities one is faced with, considering the unique nature of a piece of wood and the seemingly endless array of dye products available and all the ways they can be mixed.
So what I am proposing is for each and every member here to post
what is...Based on your experience. There are no wrong answers. That's the cool thing about infinity.
"The Real Truth About Dyes"
My experience starts with some small pieces that taught me nothing, because I gave up. Dyes were too hard to work with. I had two bottles of Transtint dyes and they didn't like me. It wasn't my fault. They just didn't like me. What could I say?
Then I was faced with a problem. I had a project using Honduran mahogany and sapele and the mahogany needed to be darker, or at least the same tone as the sapele. But the sapele darkened much more than the mahogany, given the same finish. The rails and stiles were mahogany and the panels sapele and the former had to be darker than the latter! End of discussion!
Frankenstein's Laboratory had opened!
There's all kinds of info available on the net about dyes, as far as mixing, types available, how to apply, etc. What there isn't much info about is how to achieve a certain color, given the type of wood you had, especially with WB finishes. And if you want to know how to make your specific wood dance and sing with WB finishes? Good luck!
I went to Woodcraft and two men approached asking if I needed help. I had no idea who was the finish guru I needed to talk to. So I told them both what I was doing. And I mentioned dyes, as opposed to stains. The younger guy took over and showed me the array of dye choices they had. We went through a lot possibilities and he showed me pics of dyes on certain types of wood, just nont of them mahogany or sapele. Then I had to remember what tone I needed and all that other stuff.
So I did my best to remember and the Woodcraft guy was very patient. I walked out with 1qt General Finishes Medium Brown and 1gal Enduro Var in satin. I was excited! I was going GREEN! And he mentioned HVLP sprayers. The cat had been let out of the bag!
Note to self: Bring samples!
I got home, anxious to see the sapele that popped so beautifully when I soaked it with mineral spirits. This was the "best" WB finish and so close to solvent finishes you could barely tell. I wanted to see the sapele come alive again, and with a finish that won't permeate the house or give everyone headaches. I patiently applied three coats of Enduro Var. After all, all the guys at Woodcraft said this was the BEST!
Yep, that's the best I can describe the color. It was drab and nothing like what we saw with the mineral spirits. I was depressed! All that work, taking 8/4 lumber, resawing it, planing it, shaping it and I got poopy brown.
And so began the quest to find the magic dye!I had General Finishes Vintage Cherry and their Medium Brown but each stole the wood's lustre, it's beauty. It was like washing and waxing a car and leaving on the wax. Up on the shelf in my "paint room" sat two bottles of Transtint dye. One dark mahogany, the other red mahogany. And there was a bottle of dark vintage maple, that I was ignoring.
Maybe? Just maybe...
So I mixed a can of 50/50 mix of brown and red mahogany and applied it to the sapele. The grain popped , even with the Enduro Var. But it was too dark for what we were trying to do. Then I found out diluting the dyes just added more water and didn't dilute the color. You needed dyes that colored the wood the way you wanted.
Back to WoodcraftToday I picked up Transtint dyes in Golden Brown and Bright Red. I did a 50/50 mix and applied it to the sapele and found I was getting closer. Actually, I LOVED it! But only with the sapele. When I applied it to the mahogany, it was way too light. So I took the same proportions and added 1/2 as much Brown Mahogany. The mahogany matched the sapele perfect!
The funny thing is that's not what I was trying to do!
And thus ends this chapter of my working with dyes. More to come..
Anyone care to chime in and tell their stories?