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Colouring a varnish slightly.

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Calv

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I sometimes use a dark osk stain or varnish on wood but would love to know if i could add anything to this to give it a slightly reddish tint. I've tried the Deep red mahogony varnish but it can be too red and also hides a lot of the grain....or maybe i'm putting it on too thick?

Thanks,

Calv.
 

Sgian Dubh

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You can add colour to a clear varnish Calv. With an oil based varnish you can do it in at least two ways. First you can add pigment colours to the mix. Universal tinting colours (UTC's) judiciously mixed with white spirits will largely dissolve them. Add a small amount of the mix to your varnish to get the colour you want and stir frequently during use to keep the pigments in solution.

Secondly, dyes can be added which are coloured liquids that dry clear-- dye does not have solid pigment in the mix. Oil based dyes are ideal because they are dissolved in white spirit.

I seldom see oil dyes sold in the UK so I'll sometimes adjust colour by using spirit dyes which can be dissolved in many solvents, such as alcohol and lacqer thinner. Pour a little of the dye dissolved in alcohol into your can of varnish and stir prior to use.

It's always a good idea to test your procedure using small quantities of varnish and colourants and a bit of scrap to make sure everything works as you hope.


The pre-mixed stain varnishes you buy at B&Q and the like I tend to describe as 'thin paint' and you're right in that more than two or three coats will almost completely obliterate the grain.

I almost never use water based polishes and varnishes because I don't like the way they perform so I don't feel I'd give best advice on those types. I'd guess though that water based dyes and stains could be used to adjust their colour. Slainte.
 

Terry Smart

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All of the above sounds fine to me, I can recommend our Spirit Stains as being suitable to add to traditional varnishes (and our Melamine Lacquer) to tint them.
Our Spirit Stains are all mainly meths based and will mix in with these products perfectly. They are ready for use in this way and do not need to be dissolved in a solvent.
Hope this helps.
 

Sgian Dubh

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Terry, are the colouring agents you sell at Chestnut stains or dyes?

I ask because I was taught by old polishing farts, and believed it for the last thirty years that there is a distinction between the two. These are the distinctions I was taught.

1. Dyes are coloured liquids where the colouring agent is completely dissolved into liquid form. They dry clear in use colouring the cells of the wood.

2. Stains almost always contain dye, but stains also contain insoluble pigments. Stains are quite often the colourant of choice when colouring open pored woods such as oak, ash, mahogany, etc.. The insoluble pigments in stains lodge in the open pores of the wood concentrating colour there highlighting the open grain. They need to be stirred in use to keep the pigments in solution.

The definition seems to have got sloppy over the years, and it would be useful for me if you could say which formulation the products on your website conform to. Slainte.
 

Sgian Dubh

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Calv, I was checking out something unrelated to your question yesterday with Fiddes, our finishing supplier in Cardiff.

I was reminded whilst at the job that they supply oil based stains-- dissolved in naptha. They are slower drying than spirit based stuff and can be added directly to oil based varnish. You might check them out.

Their website is www.fiddes.co.uk Slainte.
 
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