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Wood dye + clear lacquer?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Swoop, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. Swoop

    Swoop Tele-Meister

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    Hi guys. I recently purchased a nice alder Warmoth Strat body for a bit of a project. The grain on it is so nice that I cannot bring myself to cover it up at all. So I'd like to dye the wood. I've been looking at Briwax dyes, some local guitar players have used them with great results.

    Anyway, my question is more about clear lacquer. Once I've died the wood my desired colour, can I shoot some coats of clear lacquer over top? Once it's dry of course. I really want a smooth, glossy surface, with the nice dyed wood and beautiful grain showing underneath. Similar to this strat.

    [​IMG]

    Will the lacquer fill the voids in the grain and give me a smooth surface? Will the dye provide a good surface to spray the clear lacquer onto? Will the dye and lacquer react with each other at all?

    Thanks in advance for any help and info.
     
  2. bubba105

    bubba105 Tele-Meister

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    I've never used dye by itself, always mixed with lacquer, from rattle cans. There are 2 types, pigment, which covers the grain & dye which just adds color. I agree with you that covering beautiful wood is not the way to go. I have used Mohawk brand dye lacquers with good success. 3 or 4 coats of clear under the dyed lacquer as a base. Don't know what you'd be able to access in NZ but light, light coats & keep it moving. The good part is if you go too dark you can use acetone & start over whereas dye straight onto wood there are no do overs.

    Good luck

    Richie
     
  3. bossaholic

    bossaholic Friend of Leo's

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    I wouldn't recommend Dyeing the wood because dye (stain) is very unforgiving and will soak into ALL of the wood, making the grain either disappear, or blend in to the point where it (the grain) loses it's prominence.

    I would first protect the wood with grain filler and sanding sealer and then cover it in a few coats of lacquer. This will protect the prominent grain. THEN use a tint color over the lacquer. I could be wrong, but I am guessing the guitar in the pic you posted was finished in the same way.
     
  4. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I agree


    I don't think that ash was itself dyed. It is the lacquer with the trans blue in it.
     
  5. TeleJelly

    TeleJelly Tele-Meister

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    I used a stain with my Pinecaster but chose to Tru-Oil that project. Even though that blue strat example is not a stain but a translucent finish, my guess is that clear lacquer over a stain would work. I'm going to try it on another project in the next few days and can let you know how it goes. I'll either be crying or smiling.
     
  6. Swoop

    Swoop Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for the input guys. As I said in my initial posts, some local guitar players have been using these Briwax Wood Dyes on their own guitars. They applied them straight to the wood and they look fantastic, and you'll notice too that Briwax recommend applying it straight to the wood for best results. I fully intend to do some tests on some alder-y cloured wood to figure out how to best achieve the colour I want, before it even goes anywhere near the guitar.

    Then, I can shoot some clear grain filler overtop, before a few coats of clear, and that should be my finish done. Again, I'll test out the grain filler and clear to see how they work, before it goes on the guitar body.
     
  7. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I use dyed wood with clear coat quite regularly. Here are several guitars I've done that way.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The last one is still under construction, and hasn't been polished yet.
     
  8. Swoop

    Swoop Tele-Meister

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    Interesting. I quite like the finish on the first Tele. How does the clear fill the voids in the grain? Does it make a nice smooth surface, or does it tend to 'follow the grain, and leave it a bit ripply? They certainly look nice and smooth and glassy to me. Except the last, one, but as you said, it's not yet been polished.
     
  9. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Grain filler, sanded smooth. Dye the wood. Lacquer based sanding sealer, multiple coats till it's thick enough to wet sand smooth (even, not shiney) without going through to the wood. Then the clear coat lacquer. The Lacquer based sanding sealer is itself a non-gloss clear lacquer. It merely has a much higher solids content than finishing lacquer. The unfinished Strat above is clear coated with wipe on polyurethane. The poly was applied and sanded back until all voids were filled, then the final coats were applied.
     
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  10. TeleJelly

    TeleJelly Tele-Meister

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    Ironwolf that is a thing of beauty, staining and dyes do a wonderful job of accentuating the natural beauty of wood
     
  11. mudbean

    mudbean Friend of Leo's

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    I am beginning a blonde finish on Ash, using StewMac #5030 Vintage Amber water-based stain applied directly to the untreated wood (only prep - sanding to 320, then wet surface & allow to dry to let nap rise, resand & repeat several times):

    [​IMG]

    I mixed it very weak - you can see it looks like iced tea in the mason jar under the guitar; still nearly transparent. I premoistened the wood to minimize blotching, then applied in several stages. I am very happy with the color I've gotten - you can see it against the natural wood color in the control & pup routs.

    I will grainfill with a thin coat of shellac, first rubbed into the extemely open grain, then overshot with a PreVal sprayer for a smooth coat, and mixed very light (extra alcohol), so that it flows into the grain better. I'll sand the shellac down very thin - I have had problems with an over-thick shellac basecoat not providing a stable base for the clearcoat, before I spray Deft Nitro for the clearcoat.

    mud
     
  12. birddog01

    birddog01 Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd like to see that when done MB & of course hear about the process.
    I almost did that very same thing last weekend but used a dark grain filler first. Chose another route though. But for the next one I'm interested.

    Wally
     
  13. Stike

    Stike TDPRI Member

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    If you want to achive the look of that Strat you will need to in this order, assuming the body you have is ash.

    -Pore fill the wood-Bartley's, Behlen's Por O Pac, etc.

    -Spray a sanding sealer and then level sand

    -Spray clear lacquer with blue dye concentrate (Trans Tints, Stew Mac Color Tone) mixed in

    -Spray clear lacquer over toned lacquer-8-10 coats sanding every 3 or so coats.
     
  14. swamp freak

    swamp freak TDPRI Member

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    Yo Stike,
    Thanks for the skinny Bro.
     
  15. birddog01

    birddog01 Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah Stike, thanks.
    Hope to be doing the same process, last 2 steps tommorow with a different color.:cool:

    Wally
     
  16. stacey

    stacey NEW MEMBER!

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    Hello IRON WOLF... I'm responding to a very old posting of yours regarding DYES and FINISHES... I'm a longtime woodworker but have been confused over what I've read on some webpages.

    If I use lacquer sanding sealer as my FIRST STEP, then apply the dye as SECOND STEP, aren't I limiting the dyes ability to penetrate into the wood ???
     
  17. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Dye the wood before the sanding sealer.
    Step 1: Fill
    Step 2: Dye
    Step 3: Sanding sealer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016
  18. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The photo in the first post is not available anymore, so I don't know if you're after a 'natural' lacquered look or not. But first consider the type of wood that you're working with. Maple, mahogany, cherry - these are furnituremaking woods that do well with stain to bring out the variation in color and reflectivity in the wood. Alder is not really in that category unless it's a particularly pretty specimen. So you're not going to get the results that are pictured here with other wood species.

    1. My advice would be to seal the body with sanding sealer (think of it as a clear primer).
    2. Then if you still see tiny indentations from the pores of the grain, use a grain filler to get a flat, level surface to build your finish on. This is always necessary for mahogany and ash, and never necessary for maple or cherry. Alder you have to take your chances but my guess is with poplar or alder you won't need to bother with a grain filler.
    3. You can enhance the appearance, without worrying about splotching, by adding some tint to the clearcoat instead of applying a stain to the bare wood. This is known as a toner or shader, and it can be used on the whole guitar (not just the edges as you might with a sunburst). Remember the 'red mahogany' knock-down furniture from the Bombay Company retail stores? It's all cheap white wood with the color applied in the finish. Unfortunately unless you buy a pre-tinted color in a spray can, mixing your own toner coats requires spray equipment. A Preval sprayer and a box full of canisters for it will work nicely.
    4. Once you've put enough light coats on to sneak up on the color you want, then it's time to topcoat with clear lacquer.

    Even if you're not purchasing their vintage reproduction colors, Reranch has good how-to resources on their web site.
     
  19. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Theoretically, yes, but if it's a thin coat, then the sealer serves the purpose of a pre-stain conditioner to prevent splotching (some woods are notorious for inconsistently absorbing stain, especially pine and cherry and sometimes even maple). In fact, it's a joke that Minwax sells a product labeled as a pre-stain conditioner - you don't see that nonsense from any of the professional brands like Mohawk or Behlens.
     
  20. McCart

    McCart TDPRI Member

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    And Dyes are very different from stains. I really like transtint dyes. They are expensive but really look great and don't cloud the grain in the wood.

    I dye first, seal, grain fill, seal, sand as flat as I can without sanding through, then build finish until it can be sanded flat.
     
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