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crazy finish experiment


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my brother-in-law works for a large cabinetmaking/finishing company, that does everything from houses for the well-to-do to casinos. we got to talking about the best way to get a nice, deep red/brown, transparent, on this mahogany strat i'm building. i showed him a few examples around the web of the color i was looking for.

next day, he shows up with a chunk of mahogany and the most incredible dyed reddish-brown, the grain on this mahogany just shimmering as i move it under the light. had one coat of lacquer on it. the perfect color and the grain was popping... considering that the areas that weren't finished were rather plain, i couldn't believe how alive it was.

he used caustic soda, a fairly strong concentrate, and wiped it on with a foam brush. for those of you unfamiliar, caustic soda is one of the main ingredients in crystal drano. so i bought a can, mixed one tablespoon with a litre (about a quart) of water, and wiped some on a bit of scrap with a foam brush. instant reaction and a beautiful color emerged. let it sit a few minutes then dabbed it dry with paper towel. even dry, the grain is alive under a lamp, and that's with no lacquer on it at all. looks like a top-line aniline dye job. cost me 4 bucks.

i'm going to start on a new piece, drano-stain, grain-fill, sand and shoot lacquer until i get something resembling a guitar-style finish and see what comes out. i'll post when i have more info.

anyone tried this?


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I wonder if that's the same effect as using a wood bleach. Seems like I read somewhere that bleaching the wood does bring out the figure better.

Take some before and after pics and post them if you can. A cheap alternative to wood bleach would be nice to know about for when the time comes up.

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