Friday, July 28, 2006

Dyes, stains, finishes...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I have been spending waaaay too much time lately researching staining and finishing mandolins. A few days ago I knew NOTHING AT ALL about this, and now I know enough to be dangerous, I just need to try to put it into practice. To make a long story short, and for no other reason than some luthiers I look up to very much on the Mandolin Cafe do things this way, I am going to use alcohol dillutable dye. Originally I decided I wanted some dye similar to what Stew-Mac sells, but I didn't want to order it so I went to Woodcraft and bought 4 bottles of their TransTint brand dye at $16.99 a bottle. By the way, this is virtually the same price as Stew-Mac's brand which is ColorTone. I want to do a sunburst, so I picked out a few colors I thought could be mixed to do that, and then a bottle of black so I could do the headstock and maybe the fretboard.

After speaking with one of those luthiers on the Cafe I mentioned earlier, I found out that there was no need to pay $75 for 4 bottles. He uses aniline dye that is sold by LMI ( ). It's a powder instead of a liquid, but both types say they make about 2 quarts total, so it's about the same. The price difference is huge- the aniline is $3.25 per container, and you can get all 6 colors for $20.25! Not much more than the price of one bottle of liquid. If you order some, make sure you know if you want alcohol soluable or water soluable, because unlike the liquid dyes I mentioned, there is a difference apparently. I did a lot of reading about what type of alcohol to use, and the general consensus (not by all, but by many) is to use denatured alcohol. I know it's much less toxic than methanol, but if you want to know more reasons, you'll have to search on your own, because I am just going with what people say works well. I'm sure it can be bought cheaper, but I was lazy and bought a fairly large container of denatured alcohol at Woodcraft for $5 and some change.

I already have a 10' spruce board to practice staining, but I didn't have any maple. I ended up buying a pack of 6curly maple veneers pieces, 12" tall x 6 1/2" wide. I've been told they are thick enough to be worth practicing on, as far as getting the colors you want and everything, and the pack was less than $10.

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post... when I drilled the holes through my ebony overlay for the tuners, things didn't go that well. Even though I tightly clamped the headstock to another board so the ebony was sandwiched while I carefully drilled, I had enough tear-out that I had to repair the ebony. Fortunately I don't think it will be noticeable once everything is said and done, but I recommend looking into getting a reamer for this job. People do use drill bits, and I stepped up to the final bit without skipping a single size, but I still had tear-out. Weird.


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