Wood-Graining a Vehicle

      Advice on applying a faux wood-grain look as part of an auto-body finish. October 28, 2005

I've been asked to woodgrain a 1949 Chevrolet Woody, exterior and interior. I'm not familiar with automotive finishes, and don't know what to use for toners, glazes, etc. I know there are a few car-painters-turned-finishers here who might give me some advice. The painter will do the clear coats as needed.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
I have an article in Custom Woodworking Business titled Rolling Out the Grains. It may give you some insight into wood graining.
Rolling Out the Grains

From the original questioner:
I looked at the article, and should have mentioned that I know how to grain, but I am not sure what materials to use with automotive finishes.

From contributor A:
Check to see if he is using an acrylic or polyurethane, and the type of colorant he adds to his clear coats.

From contributor B:
A true Woody uses real wood trim and real wood veneer. This is clearcoated with acrylic urethane and that's that. It sounds like you're talking about faux woodgrain. If that's the case, use HULS/Degussa 844 acrylic colorants to make your glazes and avoid linseed or tung oil. Don't use 824's or 866 colorants. These don't work well with acrylic urethane clearcoats. Xylene based pigmented stains work on veneer pretty well.

From contributor C:
There is a gentleman by the name of CD Hall in Long Beach, CA, who has been woodgraining hot rods and Woodies for years. He gave me a tour of his shop years ago let me watch him grain a Woody. He had a plastic dish with a couple globs of color from artist tube oils, and on the same dish some naptha. All he was using was a rag and a Q-tip and a lot of technique. He produced awesome grains then sent the project to get the clearcoat. The process was all done on a basecoat clearcoat system.

From contributor D:
Wood graining the Woody is basically just like doing automotive graphics and House of Kolor makes everything you need to get the job done. I would do all of the color work using their acrylic lacquer bases and SG100 intercoat clear. When finished, topcoat with their high build urethane.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor E:
To wood grain auto interiors I use two or sometimes three colors to make the grain. I use a slow drying reducer in the acrylic enamel to make it flow better. If it's very hot I also use a little retarder to slow the drying time. I use a fan brush to make the grain and move it to vary the grain. Practice will help you to get the effect you want. I use a lighter color then grain with a darker color, and sometimes I even use a darker color beside the dark one with a liner brush to make it stand out more. When Iím done I use acrylic enamel or urethane clear to finish it.

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