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Finishing question: stain / dyes

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by hover, Nov 7, 2012.


  1. hover

    hover

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Good afternoon, I had a few questions about powdered stains, the advantages of alcohol vs. water based, and general tips on application.

    Is there an advantage or drawback to alcohol based stain? I would figure it'd lessen pore swelling and dry quicker. What kind of alcohol are we talking to mix the powder into, ethyl / anhydrous or electronics grade? Surely not rubbing alcohol...

    Is there a rule of thumb for application? Do rags work better? Brushes? In a single-coat application, are there risks of overlap marks / streaks or is this not a concern due to the nature of the stain? Should I hang the body and go nuts all at once (wearing gloves, of course), over doing the front face and sides, and then doing the back later?

    Just confused, and trying to do a med. walnut stain on unfilled grain Swamp Ash...and followed by a matte nitro or poly finish.

    Any pointers would be greatly appreciated, I need a winter project, and this is new to me.

    many thanks in advance.
     
  2. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2000
    Location:
    Minneapolis by way of Chicago
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Generally speaking, dyes are advantageous to stains for guitar finishing as dyes such as Transtint will not have the same grain-obscuring effect of stains.

    The video below pretty much sums it up in terms of how to apply color to a board using transtint powder dye.

    http://www.finewoodworking.com/SkillsAndTechniques/SkillsAndTechniquesArticle.aspx?id=30182

    Lonnybass
     
  3. hover

    hover

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Thank you good Sir!
     
  4. tZer

    tZer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    St. Louis // St. Charles, MO
    I am by far no expert in this area, but I have used Transtint dyes and I have to say that I enjoy working with them a lot! They are very easy to apply and control and don't obscure the grain.

    I found wiping them on with a rag was the easiest way to go for my projects which were both bursts - a tobacco burst and an amber-cherry-black burst.

    If a particular application didn't go well, I was able to 'back it off' using alcohol. On both bursts I would get to the final dark application around the outer edge and frequently found myself going too far into my brighter colors. Then that happened, I would just prep a very dilute mix of the lighter color and 'push' the encroaching darker color out.

    I have even sanded the entire thing back to raw to start over with very little hassle. I also made sure I practiced a lot on a piece of scrap to get a good feel for things.

    Here are a couple shots of my Transtint Dyed tops:

    Tobacco Burst:
    [​IMG]

    Amber-Cherry-Black:
    [​IMG]

    Practice Piece:
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. hover

    hover

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    just GORGEOUS!
     
  7. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2000
    Location:
    Minneapolis by way of Chicago
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Yep, those are nice examples. A few practice runs with Transtint and you'll get the hang of it.

    Some tips I've picked up from my builds...

    1. Buy a spray bottle from the hardware store and use it to lay down a wet surface of water on your top wood before applying any color. Then rub with a towel to get a nice even wetted surface - WITHOUT puddles. Any standing water on the surface will only dilute the color you are going to apply.

    2. Keep the surface wet as you work - it will be much easier to manipulate.

    3. Don't use too high a ratio of liquid to dye, or you'll have a pastel bass. :)

    4. Keep you color blends sealed and in reserve just in case you need to go back and re-color anything later in the finishing process, say by sanding through a color coat.

    5. Spray down your final color coat with 4 or 5 applications of Bullseye dewaxed shellac to seal in the dye before applying your clear coat.

    Here's a shot of a new bass I just finished using three base Transtint colors - red, black and amber - to create a few custom shades.

    The black was applied as a wash coat to highlight the rays of the grain, then sanded back (as shown in the video). I then blended together the dyes to get a deep red, a transitional orange and a gold, and applied to get this:

    [​IMG]

    Lonnybass
     
  8. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Transtints are distributed by Jeff Jewitt's Homestead finishing Products; Jeff provides lots of useful finishing information on his website:

    www.homesteadfinishingproducts.com
     
  9. hover

    hover

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Wow Lonny, just awesome!! And Jazzdogg, thanks for the link!!!
     
  10. tZer

    tZer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    St. Louis // St. Charles, MO
    Lonny, wow! That is gorgeous!
     
  11. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2000
    Location:
    Minneapolis by way of Chicago
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Thanks guys. I've been aiming for some non-traditional burst schemes that reflect what's going on in the wood grain and are a departure from typical color patterns found on stock instruments.

    Here's a "before" shot of the finished bass:

    Before
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the dark brown section of the burl became the red flame portion, and the light colored upper portion became the gold.

    After
    [​IMG]

    Next up is the following unfinished body...
    [​IMG]

    I haven't decided on a final color scheme for this one yet, but will be giving it some thought over the next few weeks. Probably something in the red/orange family, but not entirely sure how it will be vignetted given the grain pattern on these boards.

    Lonnybass
     
  12. tZer

    tZer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    St. Louis // St. Charles, MO
    That is simply beautiful! Very nice work!
     
  13. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2000
    Location:
    Minneapolis by way of Chicago
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Appreciate it!

    One bit of advice I forgot to mention above - the use of dyes require a much more diligent sanding effort than you would normally need for a clearcoat.

    Any sanding lines or swirls will be highlighted just like the grain is highlighted, so it is necessary to really work through finer grits (I might go up to 400 vs 220/320 with a clearcoat) and make sure that all the marks come out. Make sure you have plenty of good natural lighting and mineral spirits on hand to help you see any lines on the topwood!

    Lonnybass
     
  14. tZer

    tZer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    St. Louis // St. Charles, MO

    AND - as I learned - you have to be very careful not to sand through the clear coats!

    I ended up sanding through on edges like the fore-arm contour - and I thought I was being careful.

    Sanding clear coats is a real exercise in patience and requires a very delicate touch.
     
  15. hover

    hover

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Man, I step away to work, and come back to more eye candy!!!
     
  16. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Location:
    Boston Mass
    Disclosures:
    Endorsments listed in profile
    Great thread...Thanks for the info...New question (starting new thread)
     

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