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Transtint dye and water based poly

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by JamesAM, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Hi guys, relatively new to the board and dipping my toe into partscaster building. I’ve ordered the parts for my first build and I’m going to use transtint vintage amber dye and wipe on poly to get a clear golden finish that will look close to butterscotch but be slightly less fragile (and easier to apply) than nitro. I’m working and home with my 2 year old, so I don’t have a lot of time for a set finishing schedule for lacquer, so the wipe on poly really appeals to me.

    transtint says specifically that it is incompatible with oil based poly, but I got water based for this build due to easier cleanup and fewer fumes for my kiddo.

    - Will transtint mix with the Water-based wipeon poly to make a decent toner? I’d like to do this to avoid grain raising (ash body) that might happen with just dye and water as a base coat. I’d like to sand as little as possible.

    - I’m going for a faux butterscotch finish, which I know is semi-opaque. Is there a way to create a semi-opaque toner with poly as a color coat and wipe the clear poly on top?

    - for those who have used transtint As a dye: do you have a good mixture ratio to get a light yellow that’s similar to light butterscotch (at least in saturation)?

    thanks all
     
  2. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    Here is Homestead's home page.https://homesteadfinishingproducts.com/transtint-liquid-dyes/

    You can use this as a dye/stain and then put a clear coat over it, or you can use it to tint your poly. I've used Transtint under Oil based coatings after it is dry with no issues. It sounds like you are wanting to tint your poly, though and they clearly indicate that it is not compatible with oil based stains, but that it is with water based stains.

    I'd put some on some scrap, let dry, and then apply your water based Poly. Pretty sure it will be fine. Then try it as a tint in the poly, again pretty sure it will be fine. For opaque, you will have to add pigment. Mixol works great. Stew Mac has their version of Mixol. I'd start with some amber which is more yellow than vintage amber and add white mixol Until you get the color you want. You might try with Vintage amber also as it has some brown in it. Custom mixing colors is actually quite fun.
     
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  3. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I use Transtint in clear waterborne finish for toning/coloration. If I directly dye the wood in a project (I use water rather than alcohol for that), even though I spray my clear waterborne products, I still typically use a barrier coat of wax-free shellac to seal in the dye and add some warmth. Most waterborne finishes are a little "cold" looking, although there are a few that are not. If you want the "water clear" look over your dye, just be sure to spray the clear to avoid moving any dye already on the wood if you chose to do that.
     
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  4. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Oh cool, thanks guys! Does this schedule sound like it will work:

    1. put a very diluted dye/water mixture directly on the wood for just a hint of color then let it cure.

    2. Then a coat of white mixol And trans tint into some of the poly to make a kind of “opaque-ening” toner

    3. then from there I can just wipe on as much clear to the thickness I want

    Should I need to use any grain filler with this method?
     
  5. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    FYI, the dye doesn't "cure"...the water just evaporates. :)

    Your schedule would work. That said, do it on scrap of the same material as your project FIRST to insure the look is what you want before committing to the real deal. Never experiment on your actual project when that can be avoided.
     
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  6. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    James, I use Colortone trans tint dyes to make all of my stains and to tint my finish coats. I have used it in both solvent based lacquer and it water born lacquer (KTM-9). I have not used it in any wipe on finishes, poly or anything else.

    When you apply a stain directly to the wood it is absorbed into the wood, often at different rates by different grain configurations. This can be used to highlight grain, for example the flame or quilt on many maple tops. It is usually absorbed t a greater extent on cross grain, the sides of a guitar at the butt end will absorb a lot more than the sides themself. This can be good or completely frustrating. I do apply my stains by hand altho I have also sprayed them with an air brush to get sunburst or faded colors.

    Some people apply a "sealer" to keep this from happening. Since every time I apply stain to bare wood I am trying to get the grain to do different things I don't use a sealer - others tell me that is completely wrong.

    The second part of this is that I mix the dye directly into my finish coats which are sprayed on. I might only use a few drops of the dye in 4 or so oz of finish and I spray it so I get nice even color. This is a wonderful way to add color to the finish but still see the grain of the wood under it. I would be very worried about trying to do that with a wipe or brushed finish - experiment on scrap until you are sure its going to come out the way you want it.

    I dilute my dyes with DNA to make the stains. My logic is two fold - first if I use water it will raise the grain and I have to sand that back after applying the stain. I do my grain raising steps as part of the preparation sanding before the stain goes on. Second, I don't want the solvents in my finish to draw the color back out of the wood so after I put the stain on I spray a coat or two of sealer - I have been told that there is less interaction if the stain was alcohol based.

    However, when I took a seminar from one of the best stainers in the industry (James Condino) he said that because he uses French polish with alcohol on his instruments and it being wiped on he does not want the alcohol in the finish to pull back the color he has applied to the wood with alcohol - therefore he uses water as the solvent for his stains.

    The bottom line there is a lot going on with stains and transparent color finishes. You should really practice on scraps of YOUR wood with YOUR products. I think that trying to hand apply a transparent finish would be almost impossible but you'll find that out when you try it. There are lots of examples of Fender style butterscotch finish in the literature (Dan Erlewine gives several in his book on guitar finishing) but they are all sprayed.

    Good luck, show us the results
     
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  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Also, ash is a porous wood. It should be pore filled if you want a smooth level finish. I have no experience with ash so I really can't advise here, experiment on some scraps
     
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  8. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Thanks everyone! I’m going to test both methods out tonight on some scrap. I worry about water based poly re-wetting bare dye and pulling it up when I rub it in, so I’ll experiment with adding the transtint directly to the poly as well as my base color coat. Unfortunately for me, spraying isn’t an option.

    The body doesn’t come until Thursday, so I’ve got some time- I’ll be sure to post progress updates along the way.
     
  9. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    To avoid grain raising, I would mix your stain in alcohol like Freeman, start light and then add additional coats of stain until you get the tone you want. Then I would seal with shellac (again to avoid grain raising). Shellac comes in several different varieties, each having its own color orange (not for you), garnet (honey to maple syrup), and super blond (very little color). Shellac is very easy to sand, adds additional warmth to the color, and everything seems to bond well with it. After at least two coats to seal your color, I would grain fill (ash takes a lot to get a smooth finish) and do several topcoats with a light scuff sand in between. If you don't mind pores showing through your finish you'll have a fairly easy time of it. To get a flush, smooth finish lke Fender did, you're looking at several rounds of grain filling before topcoating.
     
  10. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    well, I tested both water/dye and poly/dye on some scrap red oak I have. Both were applied with a sponge brush. Both with 1oz of solvent/finish and 6 drops of transtint.

    the water based poly took the dye! It mixed very well and looks great on the red oak. This did not raise the grain at all from what I saw, and went on to the oak very smoothly. I might just use a couple of coats of this “toner” for color and layer clear on top. I’m actually really happy with how this turned out.

    the dye and water significantly raised the grain, as expected, and tinted the oak much darker than the poly- really effective for color, but will need some sanding.

    next i’ll see how well clear can be rubbed on to each after they dry for a while.
     
  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    That is truly the smart way to do it. My only question is how will the ash react compared to the oak. Looking forward to seeing the results.
     
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  12. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Quick update- I know it hasn’t been 24 hours, but I decided to try to wipe clear over both samples. I used a shop paper towel to apply the waterbased wipeon poly to both samples.

    The grain ended up raising and staying raised on the dye/poly sample as it cured. The raised grain went back down on the dye/water sample. I knocked down the raised grain on the poly sample with some 400 grit and it’s now smooth.

    Clear wiped on to the poly toner no problem and made a nice sheen. The paper towel was clear after application; no dye.

    The clear re-wet the dye and splotched it, as well as stained the paper towel. I know this is likely attributable to not waiting 24 hours for the dye to set, but it was a very small 2”x4” section that I dyed.

    I know oak isn’t ash, but it was the closest open grain wood scrap I had on hand. I’m hoping it makes a good analog for the ash body I have coming.

    I think the plan will be to mix dye into the poly and apply rather than dye the wood. Since this is my first time, it should make it easier to strip as well if it turns out poorly.

    I’ll do 2 coats of toner and then sand with steel wool, as per rob’s frettech page. Then I’ll gradually layer on probably 10 coats of clear with sanding after 5. No grain fill this time- I think I like the natural feel of the grain, and I just don’t have the patience to fill it.

    I’ll post some pics when the plank comes and start a new build thread! Thanks again all
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
  13. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not sure I understand your aversion to sanding, but I would just resign myself to the fact that grain raising occurs and you need to deal with it. I have yet to find a finish or solvent that does not raise the grain at all. So you can try to head it off by sponging the wood with a damp paper towel and the solvent for the finish you're about to use - for example plain water before you use dye in water. Let the grain raise, and carefully knock it back with fine 320 grit sandpaper (I use 400 grit/grey Scotch Brite or equivalent). or just apply the stain or finish and let the grain raise, then sand back before the next coat.

    Wipe on - yes there's going to be an issue of smearing the dye from the last application. One more reason to put your color in the finish and not in the wood. A light coat will lock in the dye/pigment and then you can build.

    Butterscotch - I can't imagine getting there with dye alone. Butterscotch blonde is semi-opaque paint. For the color coat you can use white mixol and at the same time you can add Transtint dye to the same mixture. Think of it the way the paint store adds universal tint colorants (available in tubes by the way) to the "pastel base" when custom mixing house paint. Apply light, thin coats until you sneak up on the degree of opacity you're looking for.

    It seems like you're already graduated past the wipe-on poly from the big box store and you should start looking at "real" wood finishes. I use Target Coatings waterborne finishes (EM-Tech, emulsion technology, used to be called Oxford) which you can order directly from the manufacturer (they used to be the private label supplier for a very popular guitar geek supply brand if you get my drift). They even have a sealer EM-1000 meant for what you're doing. Waterborne coatings are usually milky white because they're an emulsion (like, er, milk) and it's hard to see what color you're going to get when mixing the dye or pigment into it. The EM-1000 is almost clear so it's much easier to see what you're getting (test panels are still mandatory).

    Oh one more thing, whenever you mix dye into a water based coating, you might want to dilute it a little bit first (plain water is fine) before stirring it in so it doesn't get snotty or viscous. Also anything you mix in, whether it's dye or pigment or cross-linker additive, you must let the mixture sit long enough for the emulsion to adjust. Hours or even overnight is better. Then mix again before applying it.

    This isn't rocket science you will enjoy the process I'm sure.
     
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  14. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    They dye doesn't "set" or "cure" and yes, it will redisolve if it's exposed to moisture. Dye mixed into the clear is a different story since the clear finish becomes a "binder" (like like a very thin oil based varnish is used as a binder in pigment stains like the Minwax products) and once that binder cures, the color is locked in.
     
  15. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    thanks for the clarification- Is there a correct term for when all of the solvent in the dye mixture evaporates and the dye’s color has permeated the top layer of wood cells? If it’s not “curing” or “setting,” what is the correct nomenclature? Is it just “drying?” Just so I get it right in the future!
     
  16. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Water soluble and alcohol soluble dyes work pretty much the same....the water or the alcohol provides the vehicle to get the color into the surface of the wood and then the water or alcohol evaporates, leaving the colorant in/on the wood. The dye is still soluble at that point so if you re-wet with the water or alcohol...the color's able to "move". So "drying" is actually a pretty good term to use. :)
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    As we have said over and over and over, do some experimenting with your own products on your own wood. Here is one I did some time back - the scrap of maple was divided into four segments. The two on the top were left bare, the two closest to the camera were sealed with sanding sealer. I mixed the same amount of the dye into equal amounts of DNA and water - the alcohol based stain was applied to the left two panels, the water based stain on the right side.

    IMG_5538.JPG

    In MY case with MY wood and MY stain, I felt that the sealer did a very good job of keeping either stain from being absorbed into the wood (which is not what I wanted) and I felt that the alcohol based stain was slightly better at coloring the wood.

    IMG_5543.JPG

    I was attempting to make the color darker as it approached the edge of the wood just as you might do with a hand applied burst.

    Both water and alcohol make acceptable solvents for applying stains, I feel I have better control with DNA and I like the appearance. Since I am shooting solvent based lacquer over the top I don't have to worry about rubbing anything on the stain that might pull the color back, however I do keep a rag wet with alcohol as I'm applying the stain to help me manipulate the color.

    Your milage should and will vary.
     
  18. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Well, the guitar is done. If I had to do it again, I would probably use oil based wipe on poly- the water based means you can’t use steel wool to sand between coats (you can, but be sure to use a magnet to get every last piece of fuzz so that the waterborne finish doesn’t cause rust spots). It was super easy, but surprisingly more finicky than I was anticipating.

    first, I did a test of directly dyeing the wood vs adding dye to the poly to make a waterborne stain. I didn’t have any scrap ash to match my plank, so I used a spare red oak floorboard for my test, as the open grained oak could give me an idea of what I’d be dealing with on my ash body. You can see in my attached photos the directly-dyed wood (left side of the plank) yielded a much more rich and full color. The “toner” on the right side of the plank gave a more even and quicker drying coverage. I decided to go with the dye in the poly for a few coats to get my color.

    I did 6 coats, all applied with a foam brush and paper towel, which was purposefully thin: 3 coats with dye and 3 without. In between I sanded with a paper towel and (gasp) 00 steel wool (I rolled the dice on this one) and cleaned up with a magnet. After the first coat I used some 400 grit to knock down the raised grain. After the final coat I let it cure for 2 days before putting the guitar together. I buffed with a paper towel, and might consider polishing to gloss, but my guess is the top coat is too thin. I’m happy with not how it is- it took all of like 2 hours of total work. Couldn’t have been easier.

    the color is light, and the grain is really apparent- when I get tired of this, I’ll likely strip it and try a reranch rattle can finish.

    I am pretty pleased with the results, for what it is; I finished a whole body for the first time with no real fumes in my basement with no equipment or difficult cleanup. If I were to do it over, I would use oil base next time and dye the wood directly for a deeper finish.

    thanks for the help and suggestions- appreciate everyone’s time!
     

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