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  • Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

    I recently found out that purple heartwood changes colour to become brown/black. I need a permanent purple colour for my project. I've been shopping around to find solutions to dye wood, what I found was aniline dyes. Lee Valley sells it but for my hobby piece, it's really expensive (it'd cost me around $35 for 1 oz blue and 1 oz red dye). Can I not use food colouring? Or is there a different / more affordable alternative?
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  • #2

    Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

    I think this all depends on the look you want for you finished piece. do you want the color translucent or opaque? You could get a translucent color with food coloring on a light wood...I think you will have to experiment and see if it is what you want or not...we always like pictures here to be better able to help.
    When someone tells you it can't be done, it's a reflection of their limitations, not yours.

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    • #3

      Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

      Pictures are fun.

      1) Well to be honest, as a nooby I didn't even know the difference between translucent or opaque until I just watched this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCiMwwxSMZg Am I correct in saying, opaque would look more matte and translucent would be more shiny?

      2) I'm going for a purpleheart wood colour. The project I'm doing would look like this (see image attached). I'm planning on dying maple unless someone has a better suggestion on a wood I should dye to make it look like the purple heartwood in this photo.

      I hope that answers your question

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      • #4

        Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

        well me, translucent means you would see the wood grain though the color of the finish and opaque would be a solid color like paint....you can keep purple heart sorta purple by using a clear water based finish with uv inhibitors in it...and keeping it out of the light. I have heard others say though that it is dark until you expose it to air and then it turns purple but I have not had this experience with it.

        Staining or dying wood like the picture would be hard to do so the color doesn't bleed.
        When someone tells you it can't be done, it's a reflection of their limitations, not yours.

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        • #5

          Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

          Try clothes dye. There 100’s of colours. They may or may not be saturated enough for you. I have used aniline dye to make maple as dark as black walnut. Again it depends on saturation.
          John
          Last edited by John@Hamilton; 01-04-2018, 03:29 PM. Reason: auto correct, again. Grrr
          If you learn from your mistakes, then I'm getting a fantastic education.

          Comment


          • #6

            Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

            Originally posted by two_halves View Post
            I'm going for a purpleheart wood colour. The project I'm doing would look like this (see image attached). I'm planning on dying maple unless someone has a better suggestion on a wood I should dye to make it look like the purple heartwood in this photo.
            So you want to dye maple to look like purpleheart?
            As you only want to buy a very small quantity of colouring agent I would suggest either Transtint or ColorFx dyes.
            http://www.woodessence.com/ColorFX-D...rates-C12.aspx
            Be aware that all dyes (unlike pigments) will fade with time, the process will be quicker the more exposure the finished piece has to sunlight or uv rays. The metallic dyes tend to hold their colour better and longer. As was mentioned a finish with uv inhibitors will slow the process, but not stop it entirely.
            As maple really doesn't have the same grain characteristics as purpleheart have you considered other woods if you want a complete match? I might look at european steamed beach or even sapele, but I am by no means a wood matching expert.

            Hope that helps
            Paul

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            • #7

              Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

              Originally posted by Paul O in Paris View Post

              So you want to dye maple to look like purpleheart?
              As you only want to buy a very small quantity of colouring agent I would suggest either Transtint or ColorFx dyes.
              http://www.woodessence.com/ColorFX-D...rates-C12.aspx
              Be aware that all dyes (unlike pigments) will fade with time, the process will be quicker the more exposure the finished piece has to sunlight or uv rays. The metallic dyes tend to hold their colour better and longer. As was mentioned a finish with uv inhibitors will slow the process, but not stop it entirely.
              As maple really doesn't have the same grain characteristics as purpleheart have you considered other woods if you want a complete match? I might look at european steamed beach or even sapele, but I am by no means a wood matching expert.

              Hope that helps
              Paul
              Hi Paul,

              Yes, I was planning on dying maple to look like purpleheart.
              I am really unsure what to do if dye is going to fade also.

              The options I know of are:
              1) I saw one guy talking about baking purpleheart (300*F for 30 min) and then applying UV inhibitors plus a clear stain on top.
              2) Apply UV inhibitors to my purpleheart plus a clear stain on top.
              3) Dye maple purple, then clear stain on top.
              4) Dye maple purple, apply UV inhibitors plus a clear stain on top.

              I only started woodworking this past summer, so thank you for your input and anything you can teach me here.

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

                Originally posted by John@Hamilton View Post
                Try clothes dye. There 100’s of colours. They may or may not be saturated enough for you. I have used aniline dye to make maple as dark as black walnut. Again it depends on saturation.
                John
                https://www.michaels.com/rit-liquid-dye/M10227545.html
                For $4 I'd be willing to test this out for sure.

                I'm going for the purpleheart wood look (see image I posted above), so if you have experience with this do you think I'll be able to achieve that saturation?

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

                  Originally posted by Chimera View Post
                  well me, translucent means you would see the wood grain though the color of the finish and opaque would be a solid color like paint....you can keep purple heart sorta purple by using a clear water based finish with uv inhibitors in it...and keeping it out of the light. I have heard others say though that it is dark until you expose it to air and then it turns purple but I have not had this experience with it.

                  Staining or dying wood like the picture would be hard to do so the color doesn't bleed.
                  Thanks for clarifying translucent and opaque when it comes to wood. I definitely want to see the grain That picture is exactly what I want to create.

                  I'm confused if it's air or UV that changes the colour of wood and how?
                  Also, not sure if you / someone else knows this: how fast does purpleheart change colour? How fast with UV inhibitor? How fast with UV inhibitor + clear stain on top?

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

                    ALL wood, dyes and stain will change colour with the exposure to UV rays. The stronger the faster. In the case of wood it usually darkens.
                    Dyes and stains will lighten. UV inhibitors will slow the process, nothing will stop it.
                    I personally have never used clothes dyes or tints on wood, but have heard of people using it.
                    I have used aniline dyes and the Colour FX form wood essence, they work, but they definitely have a limit to how much saturation you get.
                    John
                    If you learn from your mistakes, then I'm getting a fantastic education.

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

                      Originally posted by two_halves View Post

                      https://www.michaels.com/rit-liquid-dye/M10227545.html
                      For $4 I'd be willing to test this out for sure.

                      I'm going for the purpleheart wood look (see image I posted above), so if you have experience with this do you think I'll be able to achieve that saturation?
                      I was going to suggest rit dye. I've used it before, on test pieces, and it seemed to work fine.

                      I never did end up using it on an actual project, though, as I ended up using the Lee Valley sold aniline dyes.

                      Worth nothing that the aniline dye was used on a dresser unit which sits out in a three-season-room (therefore someone reasonably exposed to sunlight) and doesn't show any sign of fade, 5 years later (not saying that it wont; just given an expectation on time-frame... so far it's been solid for me, over many years). iirc, it has about 5 coats of oil based poly on top of it.

                      Note that the rit website does specifically list that it works on wood:

                      https://www.ritdye.com/faq/what-is-rit-dye-2/

                      --Jeff
                      John@Hamilton likes this.

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                      • #12

                        Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

                        Originally posted by two_halves View Post
                        Pictures are fun.

                        1) Well to be honest, as a nooby I didn't even know the difference between translucent or opaque until I just watched this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCiMwwxSMZg Am I correct in saying, opaque would look more matte and translucent would be more shiny?

                        2) I'm going for a purpleheart wood colour. The project I'm doing would look like this (see image attached). I'm planning on dying maple unless someone has a better suggestion on a wood I should dye to make it look like the purple heartwood in this photo.

                        I hope that answers your question
                        You will never dye Maple to look like PH. Why not just buy a small piece of PH and save yourself all the aggravation.

                        Comment


                        • #13

                          Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

                          Originally posted by carbonBased View Post

                          I was going to suggest rit dye. I've used it before, on test pieces, and it seemed to work fine.

                          I never did end up using it on an actual project, though, as I ended up using the Lee Valley sold aniline dyes.

                          Worth nothing that the aniline dye was used on a dresser unit which sits out in a three-season-room (therefore someone reasonably exposed to sunlight) and doesn't show any sign of fade, 5 years later (not saying that it wont; just given an expectation on time-frame... so far it's been solid for me, over many years). iirc, it has about 5 coats of oil based poly on top of it.

                          Note that the rit website does specifically list that it works on wood:

                          https://www.ritdye.com/faq/what-is-rit-dye-2/

                          --Jeff
                          Thank you! That's great feedback

                          Comment


                          • #14

                            Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

                            The cloth dye I've expieremented with says it will work on wood. I also boiled my dye mixes.

                            One suggestion ion would be a few applications of the dye with light sanding in between applications.

                            My experience is limited to one prodject finished a few weeks ago so no comments on durability or so on. ( mixed dye with oiled finish )
                            Egon
                            from
                            The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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                            • #15

                              Re: Dying Wood: Aniline Dye vs. Alternatives

                              In my experience the UV inhibitors in spar varnish (available at any decent hardware store) are very effective in wood keeping its colour over time. Not sure about the purpleheart application in particular as I've never done it myself. I've got lovely red cedar sitting outside facing harsh western sun -- it's been up well over a decade and is the same beautiful colour today as it was when I put it up. The same original two coats of varnish, too. Use high gloss spar as a finish topcoat -- let it cure well and then rub it out to whatever finish you want. I would personally prefer to do the best I could to protect the purpleheart but no more -- I wouldn't mess with dyes. Hardly anything lasts forever, but who knows what that's going to look like in 10 years? Let the purpleheart speak for itself.

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