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Tinting/Darkening BC's Tru-Oil... is there a simple easy way?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by dregsfan, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. dregsfan

    dregsfan Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    I'm not holding my breath that there is (...simple, easy way). Everything I've read sounds pretty involved. Not something that I have to do, but I was just kicking around the idea of having a Alder body being a little darker than the standard clear coat color/shade. Nothing sounds like it will easily mix into Tru Oil. Any thoughts.


    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  2. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I've not actually done it, but Transtint advertises as being able to be added directly to a variety of finish media including catalyzed finishes. I know it is flexible, but now you got me wondering if it will work being added in directly. I'll try this out this weekend on a little sample and post back. Unless someone has already done it and can post up their results?
  3. dregsfan

    dregsfan Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006

    That would be great!
  4. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    While I haven't used Transtint with Tru-Oil, I have successfully used it with other oil/varnish blends
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I haven't specifically tried tinting Tru-Oil (because I don't really use it any more), but from my experience tinting other similar types of finishes, the two products which will probably work best are TransTint and Mixol. Both are considered to be "universal" and are able to be mixed into any type of finish. TransTint is better for transparent tints. Mixol is better for solid opaque colors, but you can mix in smaller amounts for partially transparent colors.

    With some finishes, you need to first mix the TransTint/Mixol into a little bit of denatured alcohol first, then mix that into the finish. With any of them, you need to do a lot of stirring, like several real honest minutes, to get it thoroughly mixed.

    If you are trying to darken alder a small amount, use orange, maybe with a little bit of red or brown.

    Important: The more tint you put in, the more difficult it's going to be to get the color even all over, without overlaps and blotches. Go lightly. Put in just a small amount of tint and build up the shade in multiple coats. Don't try to get the color in one coat.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  6. dregsfan

    dregsfan Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    Hey Bruce, you are wonderful sir.

    Thank You
  7. Tru oil is somewhat amber already, I suppose if you were very diligent you could build up a half billion coats to make it darker. Or just take Bruce's advise since he knows his stuff.
  8. Bruce provided great advice :)

    I would add to pay close attention to your end grain if using TransTint dye. It can get very splotchy and un-even. If not really addressed you might end up wanting to make a dark burst to hide it. Proper sealing is supposed to address this possibility but it isn’t iron clad (so far with my experience)..
    Matt Liebenau and bolophonic like this.
  9. I’ve never tried it but my thought on getting the color even with a tinted Truoil would be to apply a few coats of standard Truoil to seal the wood then apply the tinted oil and then, if you want, more standard Truoil over that to lock the color in.
  10. That sounds Like a good plan :)
  11. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
  12. dregsfan

    dregsfan Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    Why does that sound like a good idea?
  13. I’ve used Truoil a few times and it has a natural light tint to it. This would give you an idea if you like it as is, and get the benefit of sealing. If not then you can proceed to tinting the next round of Truoil to get it a bit darker. I would try practicing on maybe an inside control cavity if possible.
  14. With any stain the endgrain will soak up more stain and appear darker. Also, depending on the wood, there can be areas that soak up more stain making the surface appear “blotchy.” By sealing the wood with a coat or two of untinted oil it will help the stain go on more evenly. (Theoretically) The down side is that on ash or figured maple, for example, the grain or figure won’t soak up more of the stain so you won’t get that “pop” or PRS type effect.

    Testing on offcuts from your body would be ideal. Ymmv, etc.
    dregsfan likes this.
  15. dregsfan

    dregsfan Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    Very cool.
    Thanks guys.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  16. briandavismurph


    Jul 1, 2013
    here is artists paint [linseed oil based] IMG_1799.JPG tinted Tru-Oil on my P-Bass which is nearly done, here is 5 coats of Tru-Oil after two coats of colored [tinted Tru-Oil]
    pudge and Matt Liebenau like this.
  17. dregsfan

    dregsfan Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2006

    Thanks for posting that, looks good.
    I need to post a pic of how mine turned out.

    Thanks Again.
  18. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Huh, I completely forgot about this thread. I did in fact test Tru oil with both transtint and also with mixol colors. Both of them worked fine. I tried adding the Mixol to some denatured alcohol before adding it to the tru oil., but a very small amount goes a long way obviously, because even just a few drops turned it pitch black. :)

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