Wood dye, stain & stain waxes - red mahogany

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Wood dye, stain & stain waxes - red mahogany

Postby ToneWood » Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:52 am

I recently made a bowl as present for a new family member, the shape was inspired one of David Fisher's cherry wood bowls. The wood used is (I believe) oak, although it has none of the characteristic medullary rays I associate with oak but it did contain tannin. While discussing finishing, it turned out that the intended recipient prefers dark woods. I normally avoid colours & chemicals if I can but my unfinished, white bowl did look rather anemic (although my wife prefers this white unfinished look):
Raw woman bowl2.jpg
Stage 0: The raw wood bowl.
Raw woman bowl2.jpg (65.19 KiB) Viewed 5901 times

- oiling would likely have brought out the colour (there was an interesting natural reddish flame-like streak at one end) and the grain over time. But David's bowl was naturally a lovely dark, rich, cherry red and this seemed like the ideal opportunity to try staining.

I read up on staining and actually came across 3 types of products: dyes, stain and waxes with stain.

I thought the wax alone might not provide sufficient colour (although the Briwax I used was highly recommended by users) and I feared it might bring out the grain too much - resulting in too much contrast. So I bought small samples of the first two and a big tin of wax (which I can also use on my garden furniture). I wanted a deep, rich reddish brown and the closest colour seemed to be called "red mahogany" in all 3 products (there are variants, such as: Antique mahogany, Spanish mahogany & Tudor mahogany).
Last edited by ToneWood on Sun Mar 29, 2015 1:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Wood dye, stain & stain waxes - red mahogany

Postby ToneWood » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:17 am

Important: For all of these products, I would suggest wearing gloves (e.g. disposable latex/nitrile/plastic gloves) when applying, handling and buffing. And be aware that the colour will easily transfer to clothes as well as skin :(.

Reading up, it seemed like the wood dye would need to be applied first and would be the most likely to give me the uniform depth & darkness I was looking for. It came out redder (almost Alizarin Crimson), lighter, flatter and more uniform that I expected. My family were quite shocked by it but I was not worried as I knew that the following stages would change it and "mellow" its rather striking appearance:
Dyed mahogany red woman bowl.jpg
Stage 1: 2 coats of wood dye, although the second coat was unnecessary & made little difference.
Dyed mahogany red woman bowl.jpg (53.04 KiB) Viewed 5902 times
Last edited by ToneWood on Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Wood dye, stain & stain waxes - red mahogany

Postby ToneWood » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:46 am

Next I stained it...
Stained red woman bowl.jpg
Stage 2: +1 coat of environmentally friendly wood stain - quite effective.
Stained red woman bowl.jpg (47.02 KiB) Viewed 5900 times

This time I used only one coat as, again, it was very effective (these products can be thinned for a subtler colour change). As I'd hoped, this started to bring out the grain. Still quite flat/dull though - but no fear, we are not done yet.

The chap who sent me the environmentally friendly wood stain also kindly included a second sample of a redder stain for me to try (and some useful handwritten hints and guidelines). I used the former as the bowl was already very red from the dye.
Last edited by ToneWood on Sun Mar 29, 2015 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wood dye, stain & stain waxes - red mahogany

Postby ToneWood » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:08 pm

Stage 3: I applied 2 coats of raw linseed oil.
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Re: Wood dye, stain & stain waxes - red mahogany

Postby ToneWood » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:12 pm

Stage 4: Waxed twice with Briwax (once was enough) using "super fine" grade 0000 steel wool. I gather the idea of using super fine steel wool is that it tends to:
1. force the wax into the grain
2. remove any residual "tooth" (roughness left after sanding)
3. leave a satin finish and
4. do it all in one go.
It worked well and you don't need much wax or wool for a bowl.

First Waxed red woman bowl.jpg
Stage 4a: After first coat of Briwax, unpolished.
First Waxed red woman bowl.jpg (81.91 KiB) Viewed 5897 times

Waxed twice red woman bowl.jpg
Stage 4b: After (unnecessary) second coat of Briwax.
Waxed twice red woman bowl.jpg (106.57 KiB) Viewed 5896 times


Caveat: Of all the products used, Briwax seemed the most "chemical" :(. Do not eat this, do not breath the vapours, handle with care, wear gloves when putting it on and when taking if off/buffing. It can stain clothes & skin.

Thinking of adding a coat or two of my own wax polish (beeswav & raw linseed oil) as a less chemical final coat.
Last edited by ToneWood on Sun Mar 29, 2015 1:15 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Wood dye, stain & stain waxes - red mahogany

Postby ToneWood » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:22 pm

Final thoughts: If I needed to colour wood again, I would likely forgo the dye (too flat) and just use the "environmentally friendly" wood stain, above (cheap, simple, effective). I would then just protect it with raw linseed oil and/or my own beeswax & raw linseed oil polish.

Briwax will be attractive to some: effective staining, smoothing (when applied with super fine 0000 wire wool), waxing and satin finish all in one single application. The downside is having to handle & breath/smell those chemicals during application. I will use the remainder to help weatherproof my garden furniture.
Raw woman bowl3 small.jpg
BEFORE (above)
Raw woman bowl3 small.jpg (33.5 KiB) Viewed 5895 times
Waxed twice red woman bowl  outside 2 small.jpg
AFTER (above)
Rather Victorian?
Waxed twice red woman bowl outside 2 small.jpg (77.6 KiB) Viewed 5895 times
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