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Black Finish On Mahogany


Hound
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Hello everybody. I am wanting a black translucent finish on a mahogany body I am making. Something that looks black but that you can still see a grain image through. I have expermented a little but haven't been able to make any progress. I have tried a black waterbased dye. The result was a very uniform dark black that did not have any grain image to speak of. I tried a silver/gray waterbased dye. The result was still brown but with a grey "cast". I made a black toner with a water based laquer and the black dye and the results were not what I was looking for either. I am after something like the resonator in this link but a little more black. Would a filler tinted black get me in the right direction? Am I trying to do something that just doesn't work with mahogany? Does mahogany absorb the dye too uniformly to allow black to work? Do I just need to dilute the black dye more? After several experiments I want some advice about the direction to try next.

Thanks

Hound

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Here are some much better PICS of that guitar.

To call that finish translucent brown/black is sort of misleading, and I can understand why you have found yourself at a dead end.

If they used black/brown on that guitar, it was as a toner, or shader coat, the black/brown being mixed in with the finish itself, and it is a relatively light toner coat. Just a shader coat really.

So...95% of the look of that guitar is due to the wood grain itself, and a really light toner coat of black/brown applied over top.

You would finish the guitar natural (maybe 2-part epoxy with black added for a pore filler...maybe not), build up your clear coats, level sand, then apply your black/brown trans coat, then more clear coats until you have the black trans coat trapped like a sandwich in between all the clear coats.

It is a really light coat, you would add barely any black/brown at all to make your toner coat...as I said, to call that black trans is a little misleading in the first place if you were using that name as a reference point to try and duplicate the finish.

Most budget Dobros use veneer, so I would guess that is Ribbon Mahogany or Sappelle or something along those lines...

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Thanks guys for the responses. Drak those are better pictures. Thanks for the link. It does look a lot more brown in those pictures. I agree that it must have only the smallest amount of black toner on it. I want a finish that is a more black than brown. I would like to see a black(dark) band and the next band would be lighter. My mahogany is quartersawn and very straight grained. The bands are really tight. Perhaps if I fill first and then shoot it with a stronger toner. All of my experiments so far were on unfilled mahogany. This lap steel is my first instrument and it is also the first time to try to get mahogany some other color than reddish brown.

Thanks for talking to a newbie.

Hound

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My personal favorite pore filler is 2-part epoxy, which you can add pigments to (like black or brown or whatever).

There's a little learning curve to using it, but once you get the hang of it, it dries hard with no shrinkback, which gives you a great dead flat surface to apply your spray finish to.

When filling pores, I always heartily recommend using compressed air to really blow out the pores before applying whatever pore filler you decided to use.

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Can either one of you guys point me in the direction of your favorite filler. I tried some Behlen waterbased stuff today that I tried to tint black. It was rather thin and I did not really like working with it. I would like to have a product that is pre tinted black.

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...and epoxy doesn't come pre-tinted. :D

But then again, you don't really HAVE to tint it, just use regular untinted 2-part epoxy if you want easy.

Tinting is just an option, it is sort of an advanced technique.

Personally, I use either Tints-All pigments or Createx pigments in my epoxy, both available at any artist supply house.

I believe my local Home Depot carries small tubes of Tints-All as well, I was surprised when I saw them sitting on the paint counter a few weeks ago...

Whatever pore filler you decide to use, whatever color you decide to tint with, practice on some scrap until you get the hang of things, you'll be glad you did.

...And blow your pores out with compressed air first. :D

A lot of people do not like the pore filling stage of building, so I hate to burst your bubble, but none of them are exactly a walk in the park, each product or method has it's own small learning curve, which is why I recommend you practice a few times on a scrap piece of Mahogany.

If you decide to use 2-part, know that you can (and probably should) thin it a bit with Acetone. But not too much...

Adding Acetone will slow down the drying process as well, so don't use too much.

2-part is really gooey and sticky stuff until you get the hang of working with it btw, but a little does go a long way when pore filling, I recommend a plastic spatula or credit card to push it in and clear off the excess.

To remove the excess, you want to SCRAPE it off, epoxy is a bitch to sand back off, so you want to remove as much as possible while it's still not cured yet, much easier that way.

Hopefully I have helped your learning curve out a bit if you decide to use 2-part.

But hell, you've already got waterbased right there. You can tint waterbased with any dye that is water soluble.

You might want to use dark brown instead of black...up to you.

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Thanks Drak. I have used Golden fluid acrylics and the transtint products to tint waterbased laquers before. I experimented and figured that out. I will eventually figure out a way that works for me this time also. I think that is is wise to seek good counsel on any matter and feel like I have come to the right place.

I am a believer when it comes to experiments first. Why would a guy ever think about finishing all of his hard work without having a very good understanding of how it was going to turn out? I bet I have 3bdft of mahogany experiments in my spray room right now. I have learned that mahogany dyes nicely with the waterbased dyes that I have. Nice and even color. I tried several colors of dye just for giggles over the last few days. Yellow looks good. Red looked good. I didn't try orange yet but I bet that it would look good. My guess is that any warm color would look good. Blue looked a little funny to me.

The pore filler thing is sort of new to me. The Behlen stuff was not clear to start with and todays tinting resulted in an odd greyish color. So now I have an experiment with some ugly grey stuff in the pores. Kind of reminds me of the primer on the cars that I had in college. I will get a hold of some clear stuff and try tinting that.

Next I have to figure out if I want to fill the pores before or after staining. My guess is that it will work better staining after filling.

If you don't keep trying diffiult things you never learn anything!

Hound

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With the epoxy, I added it after I mixed the 2-part together, then added the Acetone, then the color.

The Acetone really slows down the curing depending on how much you add, and you don't need much at all to thin it, but you do need to keep continually stirring it until everything is well-blended together.

I typically use the 5-minute stuff, and it took several hours to harden with the Acetone.

You can use transparent colors if you want, I added some Createx that has some sparkle in it which is more of a pigment, so it is not a 'trans' look, but a solid color with sparkle.

Blue looked a little funny to me.

Yup. Blue wiped onto any wood that is brownish in nature never looks quite right, but it works great on very white woods.

If the wood is brown and I want it blue, I add the blue into the finish and spray it on as a shader coat, seems to work much better that way for me.

The pore filler thing is sort of new to me.

The Behlen stuff was not clear to start with and todays tinting resulted in an odd greyish color.

So now I have an experiment with some ugly grey stuff in the pores.

Kind of reminds me of the primer on the cars that I had in college.

I will get a hold of some clear stuff and try tinting that.

Next I have to figure out if I want to fill the pores before or after staining.

My guess is that it will work better staining after filling.

Yeah. All pore fillers work and act differently.

That's one reason I like 2-part epoxy, because it dries nice and shiny, which helps transparancy.

The Behlens stuff dries rather opaque if I remember correctly, it's been a few years since I used it and didn't like it so much...

Pore filler can also be misleading. If you're adding color into it, the color doesn't really 'pop' until you hit it with finish.

Just looking at it dry can be very misleading sometimes.

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