Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

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Jim Bonnell
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Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Jim Bonnell »

I'm almost ready to apply dye to a Tele style neck I made out of curly maple. I've tested on scrap till I found the look I'm happy with. My question is what to do with the end grain where the headstock and heel transition to the neck shaft. I'm concerned it will soak up the dye and look dark and muddy. Will just wetting those areas with water first help? I thought about a light wash coat of shellac or waterborne lacquer (which I'll be using for the finish) in those areas but thought it might look worse than using nothing. I'm open to suggestions. Thanks for any help.

John Sonksen
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by John Sonksen »

that's a good reason why I prefer to spray a toned lacquer over sealed wood versus dying the wood directly. You may have luck though if you don't have the capability to spray or don't want to do it that way to use wash coats or try a product called Benite which helps to mitigate blotchiness and too much uptake by open grain which is what you're experiencing. It's not open like ash wood but the end grain is essentially the part of the tree that moved water and nutrients up and down while it was alive. That's why you get a greater color uptake on end grain and why you see it on figured woods or around knots, due to changing grain direction in these areas. I've had some luck using lacquer thinned fifty percent or more with lacquer thinner, but haven't done it with waterborne. I've had good results skipping the dye, sandback to pop the grain and just going straight to color coats after sealing well. I like to do them after about two coats of lacquer, so you get plenty of material to buff with before going through the color. Hope that helps.

John Sonksen
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by John Sonksen »

oh and for color coats I like to thin the color concentration down so it takes a minimum of three passes to get to full color saturation. I actually tend to thin to get to six passes, that way it's easier to avoid going too dark in any one pass which can lead to uneven streaks from overly concentrated overlaps.

Mark Fogleman
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Mark Fogleman »

Try burnishing the end grain by sanding up to extra fine abrasive 800-1200 grit. You can also apply a light coat of shellac first before burnishing. Experiment on scraps of the same wood used for the neck as Maple can vary quite a bit.

Jim Bonnell
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Jim Bonnell »

Thanks guys.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Mark Swanson »

I agree with John, I always put the color in the finish. No matter what you do, it will be blotchy if you try to dye the bare wood. Spraying it in the finish makes it real nice and even.
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Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

The wash coat of shellac or waterbourne should work for you. Some people use sealers to avoid blotchiness on some woods. Using a wash coat or sealer fills the end grain more than the face grain just as the dye would. It helps lock out some of the dye and gives a more even appearance to the wood. But as always - test on scrap.

Todd Stock
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Todd Stock »

Thinned hide..apply...sand...seals end grain and takes dye or stain. But better to tint the finish as suggested. If shooting a maple board neck, fret and bevel the fret ends first, then seal and thin tinted lacquer (Transtint's ambers are pretty decent without adjustment) about 70/30...shoot a little dry to avoid building a we t coat (lacquer runs away from corners, poly towards...area round each fret will be lighter if you gets much on and the lacquer can flow).

Jim Bonnell
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Jim Bonnell »

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm trying to highlight the grain more. My plan was to wipe on a more concentrated coat and let it dry then sand back and apply a less concentrated coat like PRS does. Can I do that with it mixed in the finish and get the same effect?

Michael Lewis
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Michael Lewis »

In a word, no.

To get the hi-lighted effect you have to put the dye into the wood. Putting the color in the finish will give a very even distribution of the color but not bring out the accents. Two different approaches. It is much easier to control the color when it is in the finish. Many years ago figured woods were hand rubbed with alcohol based dyes, and 'clear' varnish or lacquer would be put over that. That takes a bit of practice and experience to get an even appearance.

I suggest you either seal your wood and spray the color in the finish for an even coloration, OR, put the dye on the wood and let the end grain take what it will, and put your finish over that.

Todd Stock
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Todd Stock »

With a hide glue sealer, you can apply dye directly to wood after sanding...common procedure for real cabinetmakers (the kind that make real furniture). Get a piece of maple and some 192g hide, make up the hide, and experiment before doing the neck.

Todd Stock
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Todd Stock »

If just highlighting figure, any high index sealer will help 'pop' the curl - shellac or epoxy work. Do the same sealing with hide that you'd do for dye, then sand back to wood, shoot with shellac or seal with epoxy, then tooth and finish with topcoat of choice. Frets on maple board complicate the process - I fret and bevel the ends before any finish work, so shellac is a better bet as it can be sprayed on.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Peter Wilcox »

Just a thought which may or may not be valid. In my limited experience, the finer I sand, the less dye is taken up. So if you're sanding the neck to 300 or so, you could sand the end grain areas to 1000 or 1200 and feather it into the figured area, and then apply the dye. It may help to even out the color density.

But as always, try on scrap.
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Jason Rodgers
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Todd Stock wrote:...so shellac is a better bet as it can be sprayed on.
Uh-oh, we've got another one! :lol:

This is a timely thread, and gives a couple options for different outcomes. I have an all-maple guitar that I want to give a black transparent finish. After reading this, I think the body will get the straight Trans-tint sanded back and blended, because I do want the dramatic grain absorbtion; I was concerned about the neck, though, and I'll experiment with the shellac or hide ground coat first, then tinted shellac coats. That won't look the same, but I just want the neck to be slightly grey. Final finish will be tung oil.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Todd Stock
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Todd Stock »

Black transparent finishes are pretty easy - fill and seal the wood, transtint or universal tint to color clear gloss lacquer, and shoot 2 to 4 fairly dry coats of 60/40 to desired color (don't try to get to desired tint in one coat - will never come out as even as multiple coats applied at 45 or 90 degree path differences to pervious coat. Shoot a thinned (50/50) coat of clear gloss over to lock everything down and shoot the clear coats to build to 5-6 mil dry finish. Sand and buff to get a 4 mil finish after 3 weeks or so drying. Grain shows through uniformly, or you can do a shadow burst by shooting the edges solid.

Eric Baack
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Eric Baack »

if using a water based dye, you could also wet the wood a bit before applying the dye. The end grain will hold the water longer and not let as much of the dye penetrate. I'd imagine you have to work quickly though.

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Jason Rodgers »

My challenge is the lack of a spray setup. I need to do this as a wipe-on finish.
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Todd Stock
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Todd Stock »

Then seal with hide, sand, and dye, then rattle can. be careful burnishing the wood...usually don't want to sand raw wood beyond 400 if you want best finish adhesion.

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Dan Smith
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Dan Smith »

If you do not soak the wood with dye, it does not go very far into the wood.
It can be sanded or buffed with steel wool when dry to selectively lighten it.
I did a test run last week using brown and black dye on bare wood.
It's a lot of fun applying dye. You can find a lot of examples on Youtube.
The downside is putting water on bare wood.
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Randolph Rhett
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Re: Need advice on using TransTint Dye on curly maple

Post by Randolph Rhett »

If you are going to rub a dye on bare wood I highly recommends the series of YouTube videos by BigDGuitars. He gets truly amazing results. FWIW, I have done a few on curly maple including necks and not had any problems with the dreaded "blotching" everyone talks about.

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