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Water Based Stains


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I ordered a bunch of 1oz packets (dry powder) of water based stain from Lockwood and have been experimenting on scrap pieces of alder, maple, and mahogany with a variety of colors. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that the only way I am going to get a decent finish is to ditch the idea of staining the bare wood and use toner in my lacquer.

I have the stewmac finishing book and have tried using their tips (like wetting the wood with water before putting on the stain), but my stain always looks blotchy, especially on the alder.

I realize staining alder is probably a stretch, but I was just curious as to how many of you actually use water based stains???? I feel like I wasted my money on all of the packets.

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I ordered a bunch of 1oz packets (dry powder) of water based stain from Lockwood and have been experimenting on scrap pieces of alder, maple, and mahogany with a variety of colors. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that the only way I am going to get a decent finish is to ditch the idea of staining the bare wood and use toner in my lacquer.

I have the stewmac finishing book and have tried using their tips (like wetting the wood with water before putting on the stain), but my stain always looks blotchy, especially on the alder.

I realize staining alder is probably a stretch, but I was just curious as to how many of you actually use water based stains???? I feel like I wasted my money on all of the packets.

Hi.

I have just stained a top using water based stains and I am very happy with the result. See:

http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y151/0-fanlee-0/ It's the last few pics. View as a slise show is probavly best.

Anyway I used David Myka's tutorial on this forum and Roger Siminoff's book on mandolin making - the section on dyeing. He used alcohol I used water - same techniques. It worked OK. Also I have had irritating problems using tinted shellac on the SG in the slide show. FWIW the water dyes worked great for me so just do a bit more practice. :D

RobSm

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I haven't tried any of the powdered dyes. I know Drak uses the Solar Lux stuff with excellent results.

I use the Colortone dyes, which mix with water or alcohol. I've dyed both maple and mahogany (bare wood) with really good results - no blotchiness whatsoever. I think part of the trick is knowing how much to apply and working quickly.

swirlsideprofile2.jpg

Dan Erlewine used Colortone blue for the maple/alder thinline in the Trade Secrets tutorial.

Mike

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I use water based dyes some what often. What I usually do is mix it in a little plastic container with a some what heavy concentration. Then i get a latex paint brush and just spread it on one surface evenly. Then I just wait for it to dry until you see no more water marks. Then just keep putting on coats until you get it however dark you want. I The color can sometimes seem to fade in the first coats.

And if you decided to put it alder then you should wet the alitte the night before becuase what will happen is that the wood will stick out some fuzz and then you just sand it lightly off.

And if you plan to oil after, make it alittle darker because dye is also oil soluble and it might take some up.

Hope this helped

Vincent

Edited by Vince D
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Alder is blotchy by nature. One thing you can do is let the stain soak in for a little longer before you wipe it off. That will allow it to soak in more evenly. Another thing is to use a washcoat. Perhaps a better choice would be to use a gel stain.

Maple is also blotchy by nature. But figure is the same phenomenon as blotchy so a water based stain that brings out the figure can be desirable in same cases.

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....have just stained a top using water based stains and I am very happy with the result. See:

http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y151/0-fanlee-0/ It's the last few pics. View as a slise show is probavly best.

Anyway I used David Myka's tutorial on this forum and Roger Siminoff's book on mandolin making - the section on dyeing. He used alcohol I used water - same techniques. It worked OK. Also I have had irritating problems using tinted shellac on the SG in the slide show. FWIW the water dyes worked great for me so just do a bit more practice. :D

RobSm

Nice work Rob. It is interesting, because the best results I have had on scraps is with orange and yellow dye. I have Siminoff's book on building an electric but the finishing section is a little lean. I'll have to give Myka's tutorial another :D

I haven't tried any of the powdered dyes. I know Drak uses the Solar Lux stuff with excellent results.

I use the Colortone dyes, which mix with water or alcohol. I've dyed both maple and mahogany (bare wood) with really good results - no blotchiness whatsoever. I think part of the trick is knowing how much to apply and working quickly.

swirlsideprofile2.jpg

Dan Erlewine used Colortone blue for the maple/alder thinline in the Trade Secrets tutorial.

Mike

Mike, OMG!!! that is a beautiful guitar :D So did you mix your Colortone with alcohol or water?

Alder is blotchy by nature. One thing you can do is let the stain soak in for a little longer before you wipe it off. That will allow it to soak in more evenly. Another thing is to use a washcoat. Perhaps a better choice would be to use a gel stain.

Maple is also blotchy by nature. But figure is the same phenomenon as blotchy so a water based stain that brings out the figure can be desirable in same cases.

Greg, regarding the washcoat, wouldn't that prevent the stain from adhering? I have noticed that it does look best if I just rapidly put the finish on with a sponge brush and let it soak in without wiping. Although I still am having a hard time avoiding overlap.

So here is another thought. I have seen Drak preach the benefits of shellac, i.e., it sticks to just about anything and just about anything sticks to it. Does this apply to a water based stain as well? Anybody tried using a well thinned shellac washcoat BEFORE laying down their stain to help even out the finish or does the stain just bead on the surface of the shellac B) ??????

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If you don't want them, send them all to me :DB) , I use waterbased Lockwood ANILYNE DYES (they are not stains, and there is a difference) all the time, and will gladly take them all off your hands. :D

Now, please tell me specifically how you are mixing and using them that you are getting such poor results, I have a clue that you simply are not mixing or using them properly, and with maybe some guidance, you will get the results you're looking for.

I'll give you a quick 1-2 primer how I mix and use them.

I ALWAYS use little glass baby food jars, that's all you really need, and typically use about 1/2 teaspoon of powder to a full jar of hot water.

I put a sock over it and shake it vigourously for a minute, then apply with a small rag.

The sock is to catch any shake out that may occur, you don't want dye getting all over you or your clothes or the walls or carpet or whatever is around...

Usually the mistake is someone uses a container WAY too big for their application and tries to mix WAY too much, and it comes out weak, far weaker than it should be.

Heck, at 1/2 teaspoon per baby food jar, I have to weaken the mix quite often as it's too strong a lot of times.

Solar Lux is a liquid alcohol-based anilyne dye that can be used directly on the wood or mixed in with your lacquer or shellac.

You can't mix waterbased dyes into anything but waterbased finish. :D

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Mike, OMG!!! that is a beautiful guitar :D So did you mix your Colortone with alcohol or water?

Good ol' H20, although I did use alcohol on a rag to scrub out the red (part of the technique). You can mix the Colortone with alcohol, but it dries faster and gives you a little less time to work with it.

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Greg, regarding the washcoat, wouldn't that prevent the stain from adhering? I have noticed that it does look best if I just rapidly put the finish on with a sponge brush and let it soak in without wiping. Although I still am having a hard time avoiding overlap.

That is mostly correct. When you boil it down, blotchiness is caused by the stain penetrating the wood unevenly. One cause (not the only cause) is that the same piece of wood has different densities, so the stain doesn't soak in at the same rate. A washcoat will help prevent deep penetration but still leave the surface pourous enough to accept stain. The trade off is that the color will be lighter.

Again, with maple the different densities are what give you figure. So you probably wouldn't want to use a washcoat with figured maple because you'll be masking the beauty of the wood. Alder is generally unspectacular a washcoat it might a solution. A good wet coat of stain and letting it soak in a little bit longer might work too.

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Well hmmmm, I've done at least a dozen Alder guitars in the last year and I've found you can do almost anything to Alder you want and have it work just fine, which includes dying the raw wood first then clearing over (no problems at all and it looks great), clearing the wood first then shooting toner coats (also looks great), and dying the raw wood, clearing over it, then shooting toner coats over that (also looks great).

Alder is pretty no matter what you do to it, and is very forgiving, I can't agree with a lot of the above statements that it's finicky or picky or hard to work with or unspectacular looking, I really dig it, and it's easy to work with.

You know what I find really unnatractive?

Black Limba. I really don't like the natural color of this stuff at all, and am now dying everything I've built with it one color or another. Yech. :D I hope it sounds better than it looks. :D

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Well hmmmm, I've done at least a dozen Alder guitars in the last year and I've found you can do almost anything to Alder you want and have it work just fine, which includes dying the raw wood first then clearing over (no problems at all and it looks great), clearing the wood first then shooting toner coats (also looks great), and dying the raw wood, clearing over it, then shooting toner coats over that (also looks great).

Alder is pretty no matter what you do to it, and is very forgiving, I can't agree with a lot of the above statements that it's finicky or picky or hard to work with or unspectacular looking, I really dig it, and it's easy to work with.

You know what I find really unnatractive?

Black Limba. I really don't like the natural color of this stuff at all, and am now dying everything I've built with it one color or another. Yech. :D I hope it sounds better than it looks. :D

Drak, do you do anything special on the endgrain of your alder guitars? How about putting a tutorial up sometime when you are doing a waterbased stain? B)

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