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Lacewood And Dye

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Hi again,

After successfully finishing my first guitar, I decided to build another one, this time out of lacewood. I bought enough lacewood for the entire guitar (body + neck), and planned to experiment with different finishing options, which I was hoping would result in way to do a black/grey dye (green for a snakeskin look would be good to, but I only have black dye). I tried dying black, then sanding back and dying grey, but the brown lacewood color still showed through. I also tried dying black once ( without sanding back) hoping that once a clearcoat was applied, the lace pattern would become more visible, but it didn't. Last, I tried bleaching (with clorox bleach), and then dying black, but once again, the grain was not appearant. As I have no experience with dying, I am not sure what to try next. Does anyone have any experience dying lacewood, or have any suggestions?

Oh yeah, I did do a thorough search.

Thanks in advance! :D

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I'm not sure how white you would get it with some proper wood bleach, but I bet it would be enough to get a cool snakeskin green.

Step 1: Get wood bleach

Step 2: Get green aniline dye (pre-mixed or powdered)

Step 3: Apply in the order obtained

Step 4: Feel genuinely satisfied that you took the extra time to make your guitar exactly the way you wanted it from the beginning.

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Thanks for the reply eljib.

By "proper wood bleach", I'm guessing you mean a two-part bleach (sodium hydroxide + hydrogen peroxide)? If so, I'm not sure where to get it. The only woodworking store around me (rockler) doesn't seem to sell it, and home depot and lowes or anything similar don't seem to sell it either. A much more available alternative I see is a more powerful chlorine bleach (according to http://www.woodzone.com/articles/wood_bleach.htm this can be made with the swimming pool bleach tablets they sell). Do you think that this may work? The last option would be oxalic acid, but to my knowledge, that's not generally used to make woods white. Is it?

If none of these alternatives seem like they may work, I would appreciate a reference to where to find some two-part bleach, as my searches have not turned up any results so far.

Thank you.

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  • 3 months later...

Well, I am finally done with the woodwork, and its time for finishing.

Thread resurrection in progress....

After some searching, I found some 2-part bleach at Rockler (they didn't have it on their website). I did a few test pieces, and was able to get the wood pretty light. I then dyed them with black analine dye. Once they were dry they looked great. The background of the wood was charcoal black, and the spots of the lacewood were a silver that was almost psychedelic...

I then finished a piece, and the results were not so good. The spots were just grey, and the background was brown... not what I was looking for.

Then I went back to the store to get Mirrorcoat for the final finish, and picked up some green dye.

I lightly sanded back a portion of a test piece to remove some of the black, like is commonly done with figured maple. I then dyed it a bright green. The results were good, but still not what I was looking for. Then I added some black to the green dye, and dyed back over the area already dyed green. This produced an amazing snake-skin effect that really made the grain pop, especially once it was finished over.


Lacewood before clearcoat

Lacewood after clearcoat

This piece shows a number of different ways I died it. From the bigger end to the smaller end, the different colors are: Bleached and dyed black; bleached, dyed black, and dyed green with black mixed in; bleached, dyed black, and dyed bright green; bleached, died black, sanded back, dyed bright green, and died green with black mixed in.

I plan to use the last color combination mentioned.

Also, I went ahead and bleached the guitar:


I plan to dye it soon, hopefully today.

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I dyed it black a few hours ago. Pics:



another pic

last pic (back)

I know it looks pretty awesome just black, but those pictures are in intense light. Out of good light, the spots don't show up as much, especially once the clearcoat is on.

It's nice and dry now, so I think I'll go sand-back the black *lightly* and see if I can add some green before the Steelers kickoff. I'll keep you updated.

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Double post.....

I sanded it back, then dyed bright green.

Then I mixed up some green and black dye, did the entire guitar, and mixed up some even darker dye.

I highlighted all the elongated dots on the carved potions with some bright green, then finished the burst with the really dark green/black combo on the edges. On the back, I did a kind of reverse burst--dark in the middle and bright on the edges. Then I added a normal burst to the front and back of the headstock, darkening up the back a lot more. I also highlighted the dots on the heel and nut with bright green, adding extra dark green on the rest of the neck for a serious snake skin effect.

And the final result? Amazing:


I have to make sure it gets good and dry, but I should be finishing with mirrorcoat pretty soon.

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Awesome. I love how it changes with the contours of the body carves. It looks like you skinned a dragon or something. I've never seen lacewood look this good. Too bad with the clear coat you won't be able to feel the wood, lacewood really does feel like a reptile of some sort.

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It looks like you skinned a dragon or something.

Yeah, I hope the Feds won't be after me for hunting mythical creatures.... :D

It does dye well, but make SURE you use bleach first.

I was actually thinking a black/red and black/orange burst for the next one (fanned fret 8), so you'll see what that actually looks like in just a few months. :D

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