Dying Zebrawood

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TerribleTim68, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. Okay, I've done some interweb searching and found a few posts on other guitar building forums, but everything was from like 10 years ago and nothing really definitive.

    So the question is, have any of you attempted to dye zebrawood? And if so, what were the results? I'm not talking about finishing it with an oil or something like that, I'm talking about dying it a different color, like blue or red or something. I'm interested in materials used, methods used, the whole works.

    And please post pics, if you have them.
    bbh, EatS1stBassist and BishopJP like this.
  2. BishopJP


    Apr 5, 2019
    North Carolina
    I would be interested to see examples, as well.

    I milled some zebrawood fretboards and I was thinking about trying to dye some. I haven't gotten around to making any samples, but if I do, I'll post pics.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  3. Ripthorn


    Jul 15, 2008
    I would go for toner coats instead of directly applying the dye. The density fluctuates the same way other woods that dye splotchy do. However, I haven't done it myself, as I went natural in my last zebrawood top.
    TerribleTim68 likes this.
  4. My main reason for posing this question was because the rather limited, very old info I did find seems to suggest that zebra is quite oily and doesn't like dye. Figured I'd see if anyone had any more recent info, with newer products and whatnot.

    So, then the question becomes:
    How exactly does one go about doing tinted toner coats? What are we talking about here? Are we talking about basically spraying a tinted clear coat over it?
  5. Ripthorn


    Jul 15, 2008
    Yeah, mix some aniline or transtint into some nitro and spray. I didn't feel the zebra wood was overly oily, personally. Certainly not like coco or bocote.
    dwizum likes this.
  6. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    I've never tried to dye zebrawood but just from trying to dye other exotics that "feel" similar, I probably wouldn't ever try. It's not so much the oil as it is the density changes. You just get uneven penetration. Sealing the wood and then spraying tinted clear coats pretty much gaurantees even coverage of the color no matter what.
    Greenstreet likes this.
  7. Thanks guys.
    Spraying tinted clear coats would require an actual spray gun method vs a rattle can, so probably beyond my toolbox.
    Greenstreet likes this.
  8. BishopJP


    Apr 5, 2019
    North Carolina
    You can add tint to a "brush-on" clear, to get the color you want, then use a rattle can for the top coat.
    TerribleTim68 likes this.
  9. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Outtaseezun and Reedt2000 like this.
  10. Thanks @Beej, I had read through both those threads already, but came to the same conclusion. they were going for actual "wood" colors and I'm thinking "how can I get to a transparent purple or blue look?" There-in lies my dilemma. :wideyed:
    Greenstreet and dwizum like this.
  11. You could try this for mixing up your own tinted clear coats. I believe HD has Deft lacquer in pints or quarts you can mix TransTint dye into. PreVals are a little expensive but for a couple of instruments, cheaper then a spray rig.

    Preval 9 oz. Complete Spray Gun-267 - The Home Depot
    JoeWPgh likes this.
  12. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Well, if nothing else, those threads and pics show that it takes dye pretty nicely IMHO. It seems fairly even, not blotchy, and seems to be able to be saturated well. :thumbsup:
    james condino and TerribleTim68 like this.
  13. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    I have no first hand experience, but what about gel stains?
  14. This may call for some experimentation on some of the offcuts. I was hoping to use something simple that everyone seems to love, like the Keda dyes so maybe I'm just gonna have to get some and do a thing on some offcuts and see what happens.
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  15. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I have used tinted danish oil on zebrawood to redden the color a bit, and that worked very well. I wouldn’t think about wholesale dying it another color - Zebrawood is beautiful to me.
    TerribleTim68 likes this.
  16. Greenstreet


    Aug 31, 2017
    Dwizum is right.
  17. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    I 2nd the idea of a tinted clear coat through a PreVal.
  18. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Hello. Actually you're talking about dyeing.

  19. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    those images are funny. ZW actually looks like the upper right picture that they claim is bleached not the upper left that they claim is natural. The density difference is annoying though. goes from the light wood -like blue cheese, to the dark wood -like pau ferro.

    i suspect that you are trying to do something unusual judging by the lack of hard data, so buy some stuff and experiment.
    TerribleTim68 likes this.
  20. I don't know how "unusual" I'd call it. I'm just leaning towards a transparent blue look, like this pen -

    So, doing a bit of digging on comments in the post where I found that pic -
    The pen was Zebrawood, dyed with TransTint and applied with denatured alcohol after sanding to 2000. So I think maybe that's where I start on some test pieces. I see I can get TransTint from the Amazonians.
    Beej and Reedt2000 like this.