Water based dye coming off after Tung Oil finish

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hambone69, May 24, 2018.

  1. Hambone69

    Hambone69 Guest

    May 24, 2018
    So hello all! I recently stripped down an old squire bass of mine. I used water based ink to stain it and really happy with the result... however... I’m noticing after applying 3 coats of Tung Oil finish by Minwax.. that the ink is still coming off to a damp rag. I’m worried about the Ink coming off from sweat while playing and think I need to go another route for a finish.

    Is it safe to use a wipe on poly over the coats of Tung Oil I used?

    If the ink is still coming off after the coats of Tung Oil, will the same thing happen after a wipe on poly finish?

    This is my first project like this so any help and input would be greatly appreciated. I just hope that all is not lost and I can still use the ink stain I have and not have to start over. Again any input is appreciated! Thanks
  2. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    My suggestion is to just buy a new body and start over using the correct materials and methods to produce the look you are after. Unless you can sand the body down sufficiently to get rid of that mess you have. While you're at it, read up on the proper techniques of wood finishing.
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
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  3. Christine

    Christine Guest

    Aug 3, 2016
    May I ask how long you have been leaving between coats? If the coat below hasn't dried then it might just be dissolving the top layer of the last coat. Tung oil is a drying oil so it should dry quite well, give it a week hanging to fully dry then either try another coat or fill the pores a with clear grain filler, cut it back with 320 grit and coat it with Poly
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  4. Hambone69

    Hambone69 Guest

    May 24, 2018
    Thanks so much for responding! I really appreciate it.
    I waited 24 hours in between each coat. After this third coat I waited 4 days as I was away for work, and came back and just did a test spot with a damp rag to see if the oil was giving any protection. It does still feel a bit tacky though, so maybe it isn’t drying properly? I’m also doing it in my basement, which is much cooler than the rest of my house. Could the low temps be causing the Tung Oil to not cure properly you think?
  5. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    What it this ink you are using? What is the ultimate look you are after, here? What are you trying to achieve? It is hard to help unless you can provide us with more, detailed information.

    As to the tung oil. you are supposed to wipe it on evenly with a soft, clean cloth, or even your hand/fingers can do the job of wiping it on evenly. Don't glob the stuff onto the wood. After 5 to 10 minutes you wipe much of it off with the cotton rags leaving just enough in the wood to provide a nice thin film of the oil on it.

    Are you actually trying to stain the body using some sort of ink!
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  6. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why a basic rule of finishing is Don't mix oil and water. If you use a water-base stain, then it needs to be coated with a water-base finish, like one of the water-base polyurethanes. If you want to use an oil-base finish, like the Minwax Tung Oil Finish, then any stain you use under it needs to be oil-base too.

    What's happening is that the petroleum solvent in the Minwax Tung Oil Finish is softening the stain underneath, and the pigments are soaking up into the Minwax, and some ends up floating on the top surface as the Minwax dries. When you put on the next coat, it repeats. The pigment on the top surface of the first coat soaks into the second coat and floats to the surface again. That's what's going on.

    At this point, you are committed to finishing the job with an oil-base finish. Don't try to put a water-base finish on top of an oil finish. That's asking for more problems. You might as well keep going with the Minwax Tung Oil Finish.

    Stop and let it fully cure for a week or two. Then wipe it down thoroughly with an oil-type solvent like NAPTHA or Mineral Spirits to remove any pigment that's on the surface. Wipe it until you aren't getting any more on the cloth. Let it dry out overnight. Then continue on with coats of the Minwax. That should stop the pigment bleeding. If not, repeat the whole cycle.
  7. Hambone69

    Hambone69 Guest

    May 24, 2018
    I used a water based stamp/printer ink because it seemed pretty cost efficient and readily available. I stripped the previous clear and paint with a heat gun off the body, sanded it down until I was on fresh wood and then stained the body win the ink mixed with water. I first did a base coat of black. Sanded it back, more so in the center. Then added a couple layers of blue. I’m going for a weathered type of look with a dark almost burst effect. I’m really happy with how it looks and came out, but am concerned about the best way to seal it ultimately. This is a pic of it. This pic was before the Tung Oil and was still a bit wet when I took it.

    Attached Files:

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  8. Hambone69

    Hambone69 Guest

    May 24, 2018
    Excellent. Thank you for the advice. I think that this will be my course of action.
  9. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    Cool look that I would think you could do with real paints instead of the inks which is not the way to go, really. Keep the inks for use on paper or your body (tattoos), not on wood where you should be using wood stains or art paints, once you are proficient with painting with acrylics, for example. I would think the ink will not really dry correctly, if at all to allow a top coat of tung oil or a ply finish. Nor, do I think the inks will work in concert with the tung oil/top coat of choice.
  10. Hambone69

    Hambone69 Guest

    May 24, 2018
    I’m going to try to do what Bruce suggested but if it doesn’t work out will just sand back and start fresh with acrylics possibly. I thank you for your input!
  11. Matthijs

    Matthijs Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    The combination of oil and ink isn’t working obviously, but the use of ink isn’t that strange. It does not differ that much fron the use of water disolved pigments as a stain. It does limit your options for a durable finish. Another option would have been to use some kind of a old school (not thinly dissolved) wax. But ime this results in beautifull finishes that are more suited for antiques than a tool for everyday use. I’d follow Bruces advise.
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  12. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    First off, Welcome to Talkbass!! I see you just joined - hopefully you’ll find this sight as informative and helpful as I have! Truly an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience from the members here, and most will be more than happy to help anyway they can!

    Take this project as a learning experience - most times the proper tools for a job are just that because many before you found the wrong tools.

    Altho it wasn’t quite “by the book”, you did get a great looking result with the ink - congrats.

    Now hopefully by following Bruce’s advice you’ll be able to salvage it. It stinks having to wait, but slow & step by step should hopefully do the job...

    Good luck; let us know how it comes out!
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  13. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Welcome to TalkBass!

    I think you have gotten good advice already. The only thing I can add is this. There's a section of the forum called "Luthier's Corner". Some of the finest professional and amateur craftsman you will ever come across hang out there. They are usually ridiculously helpful too. This question could yield more results over there.

    Either way, best of luck with it. Your color and weathered look is pretty creative and looks great.
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    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    Had a similar experience with my home built Jazz. I used RIT brand dye and wasn't prepared for how long it takes to absorb and dry. I also used Minwax tung oil finish and had some bleed through of the dye. I think that if i had used pure tung oil and extended the drying times it wouldn't have been such an issue.

    Attached Files:

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  15. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Nothing wrong with using ink to stain wood. If you experience problems with the ink migrating after letting the finish fully cure, I would apply a thin sealer coat of shellac before adding the wipe-on poly. There are many ways to achieve a distressed finish.
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  16. MotorCityMinion


    Jun 15, 2017
    Tung oil should be cut 50% for the first coat and applied thinly. It penetrates better, drys faster.
    A wipe on satin poly can kind of look like tung oil as well. Goes on thin and dries fast.
  17. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    Hmmm... I was just about to make the same mistake, as I just got some Rustin's water-based ebony dye and some tung oil. I've previously used non-water based dye. I actually tested it on a piece of hardwood ply with some Danish oil, as I couldn't find my bottle of tung oil and thought I'd save time by testing with the Danish (lower lustre). I'd have gone for a lower-lustre Danish finish overall, but realised it would never match the glossy neck, so I'd have to at the very least satin poly spray the neck.
  18. Bass_Bob


    May 27, 2008
    Minwax Tung Oil Finish is not tung oil. There is questionably no tung oil in the product (perhaps a drop to just justify the tung oil in the name). It is an in the wood wiping varnish made of linseed oil, a resin, catalysts, and 71% solvent (per the MSDS). Based on this, here's a couple of thoughts:

    - The pigment in the ink needs more time to dry or cure. Minwax TOF is 71% hydrocarbon solvent which might be reacting with the ink pigment. Perhaps give the ink one week to dry.

    - The printers ink pigment density may be very high and acting as a sealer on the wood surface. The Minwax finish needs to soak into the wood. Could it be possible to thin the ink with water before applying to the wood? And, as with any water based dye, always raise the wood grain before applying the dye.

    - If there is a substance in the ink that prevents the Minwax from properly curing, you might have bleed issues or possibly flaking issues later on. The ink should be given a good amount of time to dry. If possible, you might want to look into using water based aniline wood dyes rather than ink. Water based is a little more versatile than alcohol based and has excellent colorfastness.

    You can, in most cases, safely hit the wood with poly over the Minwax. However, be certain that the Minwax has had enough time to cure well as to avoid offgassing that will kill the poly finish (and scuff the Minwax with 320 before applying the poly). Two or three days are not enough. Use only an oil based poly, not a water based if going over an oil varnish.

    Bolophonic brought up a great point - use thin cut shellac as a barrier between finishes. It is critical that if using shellac as a barrier, you must use dewaxed shellac. The Zissner Shellac in a can found in stores is not dewaxed. I think Zissner calls their dewaxed stuff, seal coat. Your best bet is to pick up a couple of ounces of dewaxed shellac flakes (should cost no more, or possibly less than a can of Zissner). Mix your own shellac using denatured alcohol. The denatured stuff is important as you want no water content in your shellac solvent.

    Let the Minwax cure for several days, then hit it with a shellac wash (1lb to 1.5lb cut of shellac). Scuff up the shellac lightly with steel wool. Technically, you could probably hit it with poly 10 minutes after applying the shellac, but give it an hour.
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  19. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    Minwax actually makes an ebony stain that I used on a longhorn skull with great results.
  20. Welcome to TB!

    When I did my first stain project I looked at several different options. I finally settled on Ultra Dye from Hobby Lobby.

    Ultra Dye - Google Search

    For the finish I used Minwax wipe on poly. I first thinned it 50/50 with mineral spirits to seal it and then went to town with it for several straight coats. It was really simple and will be the way I go from now on. Both are water based.

    This is what I ended up with:
    I had even considered using ink but this word well for me. Having seen how ink turned out on yours I would think about it as an option on a future project.

    As most have said above.. patience is a virtue. Take your time and it will work out.

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