I am really excited to share my experience with my new Fiebings dye stains that I picked up from Tandy Leather Factory. I have been using dye stains for years, but these are even nicer to work with. They come in lots of colors, and they can be mixed on the spot for a completely custom dye stain.
I have several more of these, and some other dyes as well, but these four are the stains that I just picked up.
The black and the chocolate are both the standard alcohol dye, and the yellow and saddle tan are the oil dye.
The great thing about using dye stains is that they give you excellent color, penetrate deeply, and make it extremely easy to get a great looking color on wood. In particular, dye stains work very well on Briar, which is used by people that make tobacco pipes. Briar has an incredible grain pattern that is only visible when you use a technique called contrast staining…and dye stains are perfect for it.
Contrast Staining with Dye Stains
For this example, I am using a piece of Briar that I sanded down to 400 grit. I like to test stains on a well sanded face of a Briar block, and then saw the face off when I am done. I then sand the new face to 400, and I can test another color combination.
This way, you can get several color tests all from the same block of Briar, with little waste.
The first step to contrast staining Briar with dye stains is to stain the wood black or dark brown. In this example, I have the Fiebings black dye stain already applied. You can apply the stain with anything from a pipe cleaner to a rag, and it dries almost instantly.
The next step is to sand off most of the black or dark brown layer, and reveal some of the original wood color.
If you do this right, the dye stain will highlight the grain in the Briar, and give it a much nicer look than before.
Use a fine grit of sandpaper to remove the color, anywhere from 400-800. As you sand, wipe off the surface with a paper towel so that you can see how much color you are removing. The amount of color you leave is a personal preference, and it will depend on how much you sand. If you sand less, the under coloring will be darker, more and it will be lighter.
Dye Staining the Top Color
After you sand the under color to where you like it, the top color of dye stain can be added.
For most top colors, use a lighter dye stain like a yellow, tan, red, amber, or orange. Earth tones in lighter shades are great, as they contrast well with the dark grain.
In this example, I use yellow oil dye from Fiebings to add my new stain layer. Again this new layer of stain will dry incredibly fast, and as soon as it does you can move on to the next steps. I used a dauber that came with one of the dyes to apply the stain, and it went on very quickly.
To bring out the depth and beauty, you have to buff or polish the wood. Pipe makers use a buffing system, which I have a post about.
Buff the Briar with Tripoli compound to have a look at what the final contrast will be. If you need to make adjustments, sand back the top layer a little and then stain it differently.
This is a combination of black for the under stain, and then yellow for the top stain. Both were dye stains, and both applied only minutes apart. I really like how it highlights the grain. It also gives the Briar a much more intense look than it has in the natural state.
More Examples of Dye Stain Contrast
Here is another Briar slice that I have been experimenting with. This has a black under stain, which was sanded back with 400 grit sandpaper.
Then, I applied a red mahogany dye, and buffed it with Tripoli compound.
I like the look, though I think that the red is a little dark for my taste. It’s a decent contrast, but again the difference between the two colors is not as wide as the yellow and black from the first example. I may reduce the amount of red in the mixture and try it again. That’s the beauty of dye stains. You can easily alter the formula to suit your needs.
Here is another test. Black under stain, and amber for the top coat. The amber is a little light, but it has a pinch of orange, which I like.
One of the best things you can do when you are working with dye stains is to write down the formulas that you create for your colors.
If you are adding a little of a couple colors to create a custom color, you will want to make sure that you can repeat it. Dye stains allow for easy mixing. You need to write it down though, otherwise you will not be able to recreate the same color a second time. It’s worth it. Especially if you come up with a really amazing color combination.
Working on a Pipe Stem and More Dye Stains
Here is another little item that I was working on along with testing out my new dye stains.
The pipe stem in the center is made from an acrylic pen blank. I shaped it on the lathe and by hand.
I faced it, drilled it, and rounded it on the lathe, and then sanded the flats by hand. The bit came next, and then a final sanding with 400 grit paper. After that, I buffed it with Tripoli to reveal the scratches I couldn’t see before. More sanding with 400, and then a final buffing to remove each and every last scratch. I don’t have a stummel for this pipe yet, but the stem looks great.
If you have any questions about Using My New Fiebings Dye Stains, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.
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