Dying epoxy

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Dying epoxy

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:47 am

I have some powdered LMI alcohol-soluble dyes, TransTint liquid, and some Stewmac Colortone pigment for water based finishes. Before I start experimenting, which of these is likely to work for dying epoxy? My guess is the LMI powder, maybe dissolved in alcohol.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:15 am

Hi Steve. I am gearing up to try this myself. My research has indicated that TransTint is often used for this. And alcohol soluble dyes should work in theory. I would think that the water soluble pigment would be incompatible but it might be worth trying if you have some in stock.

Can I ask what this is for? I am going to attempt to make a tortoise shell pick guard.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:25 pm

Thanks, Barry.

I tried to “ebonize” a test body, but because the epoxy penetrates so well, sanding back the epoxy filler sanded into and removed some of the ebonizing. I was thinking that dying the epoxy black might be worth experimenting with.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Bryan Bear » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:03 pm

Barry Daniels wrote:Can I ask what this is for? I am going to attempt to make a tortoise shell pick guard.


Pulls up a chair. . . Barry, what epoxy do you plan on using. I have had thoughts of using epoxy for pickguards in 2 ways, 1) soak into and/or coat wood veneers to match design elements and 2) to make some thin sheets of cured epoxy with dyes to cut pickguards from. In both cases I worry that epoxy would not be quite hard enough to not end up all marked up and ugly, or if I could find a hard enough epoxy it would cost more than just buying pickgard stock.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Bryan Bear » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:04 pm

Oops, right after I hit send I realized I was hijacking this thread. Sorry :(
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:07 pm

It is a short thread so far so I wouldn't worry about hijacking. I usually use West Systems epoxy so I will try that first. It dries pretty hard so I think it will work. I am going to try to make a thin sheet of cured epoxy about .030" thick.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Paul Breen » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:22 pm

I use West System epoxy, so that is the only epoxy I have any experience with adding tints. That said, liquid trans tints work quite well and do not seem to affect the hardness when cured. This will not create an opaque finish though but would contribute toward toward an Ebonized effect.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:28 pm

Bryan Bear wrote:Oops, right after I hit send I realized I was hijacking this thread. Sorry :(


Hey, hijack away good sir...interesting questions are interesting questions! ;)
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Bryan Bear » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:32 pm

I suppose I assumed that epoxies aren't quite hard enough because no one uses them alone as a finish. Or to say it another way, when I have used it as a pore filler, I thought it would be great to just be able to level and buff this stuff. Since I can't be the first person to think this, there must be a reason we don't. . . To be fair, I use french polish so even a not quite hard enough pickguard is better than no pickguard on such a thin finish.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Aaron Helt » Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:09 pm

Barry Daniels wrote:Hi Steve. I am gearing up to try this myself. My research has indicated that TransTint is often used for this. And alcohol soluble dyes should work in theory. I would think that the water soluble pigment would be incompatible but it might be worth trying if you have some in stock.

Can I ask what this is for? I am going to attempt to make a tortoise shell pick guard.


I wish you luck, I went through a quart of system 3 and they all looked good but I could never, ever keep the dust out off of them. Tried everything. I used the tint stewmac sells for nitro. If you figure it out please let us know.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:35 pm

I'm strictly using it for grain-filling, Aaron, hence the need to sand before applying the finish coats, so dust nibs aren't a problem.

I can see that as a problem for Barry's project.

Barry - have you thought of trying a casting resin? It comes in clear and either comes in colors or there must be some colorant that can be added from my web searching. Never used it, but have purchased a short-run item that was made with it.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:50 pm

I've never used a clear casting resin but have done one project that combined an opaque resin part and another with silicone. I did consider the clear casting resin early on but found more information on using epoxy for this so I thought I would start there. Need to find time to make a first attempt.

Thanks for the warning about the dust problem, Aaron. I hadn't even thought of that. I could try a drying box or a covering of some type. Maybe a kitchen pan turned upside down over it. Hmm..
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Bryan Bear » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:08 pm

Could the dust problem be as simple as pouring a few thou thicker than you want and scraping and buffing the top layer off after it cures?
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Barry Daniels » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:31 pm

Yep, I was thinking the same thing.

The one thing I am not sure about is whether you can add Trans-Tint directly to the epoxy base layer and then stir it around, or if the Trans-Tint needs to be mixed up in epoxy in separate cups and then the tinted epoxy stirred into the base layer. Does this make sense? This will probably be the first thing I test out.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:25 pm

I did a quick-n-dirty experiment last night. Added a few drops of the black LMI dye that I'd already dissolved in alcohol to a small batch of epoxy (System Three Silvertip). It blended right in, and doesn't seem to have affected its curing, though as of this moment it isn't fully cured. If I see anything worrying about the fully-cured resin, I'll report back here, but it seems to be curing just fine.

However, the epoxy remains quite transparent, with the dye only shading it. After applying it to a scrap of MDF, it is darker, but the color almost disappears when spread onto a surface then squeegeed off. I'll need to do this some more with two or three coats.

So y'all know what I have in mind for this - ebonized white oak is really striking. I was thinking of making a cap from some QS stock, maybe bookmatched, though bookmatching white oak is iffy as any runout really changes the chatoyance of the ray flakes. I've found that sanding REALLY WELL can ameliorate this a bit, but I'm going to do some more experimentation.

Worst case, I can simply do a clear finish without filling, and leave the open-grained texture of the oak.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Bryan Bear » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:56 pm

Barry, my assumption is that it would be best to mix two different colored batches of epoxy rather than just stirring in dye. It just seems like localized areas with a higher ratio of dye to resin would be bad, but what do I know?

Steve, depending on your finish, you could build up enough clear to fill the pores sanding back during the process. Just get a fair amount of build before you sand back.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Alan Carruth » Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:13 pm

Dyes are more or less transparent. Maybe you'd have better luck with a pigment. Most of those are more or less inert anyway, so you should be able to mix whatever into epoxy.

I've used alcohol to slow down the cure on epoxies. It works well, but you get a lot of shrinkage as the alcohol dries out.

Ovation has used epoxy as a final finish. They sprayed it on in one coat, a full millimeter (.040") thick. I was told they had to toss out a high end spray gun every few days, since it proved to be impossible to get all of the epoxy out of them.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Bryan Bear » Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:37 pm

Bryan Bear wrote:I suppose I assumed that epoxies aren't quite hard enough because no one uses them alone as a finish.

Alan Carruth wrote:. . .Ovation has used epoxy as a final finish. . . .


:) I'm not sure how to take that :)
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:30 pm

Mohawk's black ultra penetrating stain would mix in epoxy (use up to 10% stain) and also the topcoats and allow you to build up the color. You would still want to finish with some clear coats on top to allow for buffing out. As always - test on scrap to make sure you like the final finish.
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Re: Dying epoxy

Postby Mario Proulx » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:55 pm

You're after an opaque black epoxy? Head to your favorite home paint store and beg the paint mix person for an ounce or two of their black pigment. Works a treat!

I made our kitchen island countertop from old, school backboards(slate!), and used the above mixed in cheap epoxy to fill the gap between two slates.
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