Have any of you tried dyeing mahogany?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Benberg, Mar 15, 2014.


  1. Benberg

    Benberg

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    I got some Khaya that I'll be using for the wings on my new project. I tried to get some that have some nicer looking grain, but I Kind of want to do something more to it.
    It's not a super figured exotic wood, it looks slightly boring to me.
    Do dyes work well on mahogany? I looked through a thread, but it was all about dyeing it red, I would prefer a blue.

    -Alex
  2. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2011
    I'm interested in tinting/dying with Black to accent the grain-
    Subbed...
  3. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier Supporting Member

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    Jan 31, 2014
    Location:
    Shropshire, UK
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    Luthier, Manton Customs
    Yes Mahoganies dye very well and quite easily compared to some. The below pictures are of The Origin guitar I finished earlier this year and it features a Mahogany back. This was using a water based dye, a great tip for using these is to lightly dampen the surface of the guitar first, this helps prevent streaking where the applicator gets dry.

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  4. Aislinn

    Aislinn

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2014
    Location:
    Chicago Area
    Mahogany is a great wood for working with and dyeing. I use Trans Tint dyes because they dissolve in almost anything.

    This was for a kitchen cabinet job I did. The rails and stiles are mahogany and panels are sapele. I used a mix of Trans Tint dyes dissolved in water, wiped on with a rag, and sprayed the doors with EnduroVar satin, a WB finish. Sapele is in the mahogany family.

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    If you dissolve the dye in water, you should wet the bare wood, wipe it dry and then come back with 220 sandpaper and lightly sand off the fuzzies before applying the dye. You could also dissolve it in alcohol if you don't want to deal with the grain-raising effect of water, but you have to work fast because the alcohol evaporates quickly.
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  6. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier Supporting Member

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    Shropshire, UK
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    Luthier, Manton Customs
    Right! Good point :). Forgot to mention to raise the grain and sand multiple times until it no longer raises if using water based dye.
  7. Larry Davis

    Larry Davis

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon/north Georgia
    Wood fiber does not take dye or stain evenly and is why savvy wood workers and guitar builders add dye to the FINISH coats sprayed on and not directly dye the wood. Sprayed on color eliminates blotch.
  8. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2011
    Sometimes it's desirable to dye the wood, as the softer wood takes it up better than the harder lines and this helps to accent the grain.
  9. cheapimitation

    cheapimitation

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2007
    If you want a lighter color, you might explore bleaching the wood with 2-part wood bleach before dyeing.
  10. Aislinn

    Aislinn

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2014
    Location:
    Chicago Area
    That's not what I've experienced. I dye the wood directly to allow it to penetrate the wood deeper. Putting it in the finish just lays the dye on top defeating one of the primary advantages of using dyes.

    I've applied dyes directly to mahogany, sapele, figured maple, walnut, cherry, padauk, bubinga and even construction grade pine and experienced no splotching.

    That's been my experience, FWIW.
  11. scojack

    scojack

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    Location:
    Scotland
    In my experience Mahogany type woods dye very well.
    This is Sapelle with a rosewood stain ..comes up a treat imho..

    [​IMG]

    That said ....the end grain especially, can seep in more dye and it can look a bit uneven. I tend to knock it back a bit using fine wire wool if this happens to ensure a nice even colour.
    To absolutely ensure an even colour i would go with Larry D's advice of using a trans tinted lacquer once you have sealed the wood with clear.


    Ian
  12. devo_stevo

    devo_stevo

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    Aug 2, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Utah
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    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    Has anyone tried adding trans tint dyes to Formby's Tung Oil finishes before? I'm thinking about trying it out as I like the simplicity and results that I get with the Formby's. I'd like to add some color to a project, and was thinking of adding some color to it rather than dying the wood then oiling.

    I haven't read about or seen anyone doing this, so I thought I'd ask before I tried it out.
  13. Itzayana

    Itzayana

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    Aug 15, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland Ca
    I have done this using food coloring. Worked great. Very subtle coloring effect.
  14. devo_stevo

    devo_stevo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Utah
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    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    Cool. I'll do some experimenting this week and see how it goes.

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