Looking for a beautiful naturallooking color on that special piece of figured wood Applying a waterbased dye can be the answer

When I want to add a little extra color to the wood in a project, I usually get out a can of oil-based pigment stain. It's easy to use and gives me reliable results. But every now and then, I call on a secret weapon to "pop" the grain of some special wood, like the curly maple tabletop shown above. This "grain enhancer" is simply a water-based dye. It can give you a deep, rich, natural-looking color that oil stains usually can't offer.

what's the difference? Take a look at the photo at left and you'll start to understand why a water-based dye works differently than a pigment stain. Oil stains (far left) are simply ground up pigments suspended in a solvent. That's why the pigments settle to the bottom of the can and need to be stirred up before use.

On the other hand, a water-based dye is made by adding a fine powder to water. The tiny dye particles that color the wood actually dissolve, like sugar or salt, to create an almost "transparent" mix.

When you apply a pigment stain to a project, the large pigment particles lodge in the nooks and crannies of the

The dye above is actually dissolved in the water, creating an almost "transparent" mixture.

The oi! stain in the jar above is opaque from the large, suspended particles of pigment.

An added benefit of water-based dyes is that the color can be removed with common household bleach.

The first step in applying a water-based dye is to wipe the surface with a damp cloth to raise the grain.

After the surface has dried throughly, use fine sandpaper to remove all the "fuzz" left from the wetting.

Once the surface has been completely flooded with dye, wipe off the excess while the surface is still wet.

wood to add some color. But for the most part, they don't penetrate into the wood fibers. That's why the smoothness of the surface and and density of the wood affects the color you end up with.

Water-based dyes take a different route. As you might expect, the water soaks into the wood fibers carrying the tiny dye particles along with it. The particles are trapped deep in the fibers, creating an even color that enhances but doesn't obscure the grain.

the basics. Applying a water-based dye is a bit different than the oil stains you may be used to. But once you learn the "ins and outs," it's really pretty easy.

mixing dte. The dye I use comes as a powder in 1 oz. packages (see Sources on page 49). This may not sound like much, but you'll find that a little bit goes a long way. There's a wide range of colors available, and you also have the option of mixing colors together to get the shade you want.

To mix a dye, you simply add the powder to warm water and stir until it dissolves. It's a good idea to keep track of the proportions so you can match the dye later. And I always test the color on a sample board before starting to work.

surface preparation. The photos across the bottom of the page and the main photo at left show the basic steps in using a dye. The first tiling to do is a little surface preparation. When applied to raw wood, a water-based dye will raise the grain and leave a fuzzy surface. So before applying the dye, you want to wipe the surface with a damp cloth to raise the grain. Then you can sand off the fuzz and you won't have to worry about the dye raising the grain a second time.

the dye. Now you're ready to apply the dye. For this, I like to use a wide foam brush. A rag will work too, but it's a little messier.

There's really only one trick to leam. When you brush the dye on, it soaks readily into the wood. And if the surface starts to dry out, you can end up with lap marks and streaks. So the goal is to "flood" the surface with dye and keep it good and wet, as shown in the main photo at left. When the surface is completely covered with a wet layer of dye, you can wipe off the excess, and the color will be consistent and streak-free.

after the dye. Once the excess dye is wiped away, the water in the wood evaporates pretty quickly. And if you don't know what to expect, this can create some worry. When the water is gone, all you're left with is the dye particles, and the wood can appear pretty drab. But when the finish goes on, the lively color you want comes back.

the topcoat. I like to give the dye at least a couple of hours to dry before applying a topcoat. And here, you have all of the usual choices — with just one caution. Water-based finishes can redissolve the

The first step in applying a water-based dye is to wipe the surface with a damp cloth to raise the grain.

After the surface has dried throughly, use fine sandpaper to remove all the "fuzz" left from the wetting.

Once the surface has been completely flooded with dye, wipe off the excess while the surface is still wet.

A water-based dye simply consists of the dye particles and water. As the water evaporates from the wood, the color can dull dramatically.

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A Course In Wood Turning

Ever wondered what wood turning is all about? Here are some invaluable information on how to make beautiful items out of wood! That one little strategy from A Course In Wood Turning that I implemented not only worked, but the results were completely astonishing. I had never seen anything like it! Now, keep in mind that I had tried a lot of other products up until this point. You name it, I probably tried it! That’s how desperate I was to improve my skills with wood turning.

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