Preparation befor dyeing wood
Before starting, make sure that the wood is as clean as possible and that there is no grease or wax on the surface. These will prevent the dye being absorbed.
Previous coatings must be completely removed for the same reason. If your wood has been varnished, one option rather than having to painstakingly remove it all, is to apply a suitable coloured varnish over the existing one. Alternatively, use a varnish remover.
If the wood has previously been stained, all is not lost as woodstain remover can be used.
Be sure to follow all safety instructions when using chemicals.
The bare wood should also be perfectly smooth. Sand thoroughly finishing with a fine grade of paper. Note that sanding across the flow of the grain will leave scratches which, whilst they may not be visible yet, may become exaggerated when the dye is applied.
If you are planning to use water based dye, be aware that the grain of the wood will swell when it is applied. It is not a good idea to sand the wood after it has been dyed, since the colour will become non-uniform.
The trick here is to wet the wood after it has been sanded, allow it to swell the grain and dry, then give it a final sanding before applying the dye. This will, in most cases, almost eliminate any further swelling of the grain.
There are a vast number of different dyes available and the final results will depend on many factors – the number of layers, the type of dye, the type of wood as well as the application.
Dye colour samples
Making a sample board could be very beneficial. It will let you see exactly the final effect. Choose an offcut of the same wood used to make the item, or if that is not possible, try to find a piece which is the same type of wood and of similar colour. Apply a coat of stain to the sample and allow it to dry. Now apply a second coat to half of the sample and allow to dry. Finally, apply a coat of the varnish you intend using over the dye, to the whole piece. This sample will now show the final result for both one and two coats of dye.
Once happy with the sample, work can commence. The technique for applying dye is a little different from painting. The dye is very much more fluid and will dry very quickly into the wood. It is important not to brush it about too much.
The trick is to work quickly, evenly and methodically.
Always read the label and take the necessary precautions.