Staining Birch Bright Colors

      A cabinetmaker wants to stain birch a bright red, but still reveal some grain. Experts supply ideas. August 30, 2005

I am building a set of large birch plywood cabinets with solid birch doors and brushed stainless over thin birch plywood panels. The customer wants the grain to show but the color to be Snap-On red. I have not used aniline dyes but am inclined this way. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
If you dye the wood red, what color do you want the grains to show?

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
The color isn't as important as the technique. You can mix dyes and stains in any color (or have your supplier do it for you). I haven't had any requests for red, but I've done a lot of black and some blue. The steps are the same you'd use for wood or earth tones. Here is an article below about staining and blending difficult woods.
>Staining and Blending Difficult Woods

I skipped the first dye step since the stain worked well by itself. The far right section is stain only, the middle is stain and one coat of toner, and the left side has another coat of toner. The sample below is a color called “Italian Ice" blue. I started with a pigmented wiping stain (no dye) to get the base color, then sealed it, and sprayed a couple coats of toner over the sealer.

For the toner, I used some blue dye and a little bit of the stain. Basically, I followed the steps at this link - Steps for Even Color - though I skipped the first dye step since the stain worked well by itself. The far right section is stain only, the middle is stain and one coat of toner, and the left side has another coat of toner.

The color itself isn't important; layering the color makes it more uniform and adds depth. Do some samples, the larger the better, to work out thinning ratios for the dye (if you use it with the stain, or instead of the stain), stain, and toner.

Click here for full size image

From contributor D:
You can get that color with the ICA CNA stains and still have grain clarity. I have not done the bright red, but I have done denim blue, apricot, green, and yellow all with even color in a one-step process. I believe that is where these stains really shine.

From contributor M:
I call that a shading stain finish. I add some colorant right into my clear coat and then spray enough stain coats to get the color while still seeing the wood grains. This technique can be done with both dyes or pigmented colorants; it’s the amount of colorant that you add to the clear coat that will determent the clarity. Once I achieve the targeted color, I then go over to my clear coats to complete the finish.

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