Finishing poplar with dye and gel stain

Would it be best to seal poplar with shellac or blotch control before using dye followed by stain. I know using water based dye will raise the grain so if I don't use a sealer I will spray with water before dye.



















need to take in account of raising the grain with a coat of water before dye if no sealer is used.
 

PeteM

Pete
Corporate Member
You might get a lot of opinions but the only way to know for sure is to make a few sample boards and try different methods and see what happens.
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
Larry, the best way to handle the raised grain situation is to wet the wood before your last sanding. Then go ahead w/ your sanding once the wood is dry. Next apply the water soluble dye. W/ Poplar it will slightly raise the grain again, but you can smooth it out w/ 0000 steel wool (assuming you're not going to use a water based topcoat). What type of stain are you going to put over the dye? I usually just apply two coats of dye, then topcoat. Poplar is not too bad about blotching.
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
Charles Neil's Blotch Control is an EXCELLENT product, much better on poplar than shellac. I had some test board pics from years ago but can't find them now. It's mostly a PVA size, but there's some secret sauce involved. Don't know if it's still for sale though since Charles died.
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
I have much more experience with alcohol dyes over water born dyes. Both work well with adding color and tone to a wood. A good example is if a wood imparts a green tone by nature then you can add a dye in a red tone to reduce or eliminate the green. What I like the most about dye is it can be used to set the base tone and a penetrating stain can be used to add depth to a piece. Using these techniques and some practice one can mimic other woods, or you much like Mike Davis did recently with the rocker replacement. You can match and or blend color and finishes. It’s a lovely skill to develop because as you move through this hobby you will be presented with challenges and repairs. Will you fail, you bet ya, I have many times.
With all that said, you asked about sealing the wood prior to dying. sealing the wood say with a thinned shellac will do two things, it will reduce the grain being raised, and it will prevent the dye from penetrating as deeply into the grain. Wood conditioners work in similar manner to a lesser extent. I recommend that you take some scrap material and experiment with the products you are wanting use. Take notes on what you have done, so you can remember what you have done. Trust me on this you need to take notes. For a lack of better words, there is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to finishing. And yes I love my cats so I will not be skinning them. What I’m trying to say is experiment and find the process that gives you the results you are looking for and then do that. Trust me you will learn a lot from the process, I do this all the time, especially when I’m confronted with a repair. I hope this is clearer than mud, I mean, I hope this helps. Reach out if you have other questions.
 

walnutjerry

Jerry
Senior User
I have finished poplar chair seats several times by using water soluable dye top coated with minwax oil base stain and then the 3 part urethane finish. lightly sanded after applying dye----have applied dye twice letting it dry between applications. I was happy with the results I got. Experiment!! as has been suggested already.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
Where does the gel stain come in. Maybe I missed it.

Gel stains work well on blotch prone woods because they don't penetrate as deeply into the wood like solvent based stains.
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
Hey Jeff, I don’t remember anything about a gel stain on this thread. However, like you stated it’s a slower penetrating product and it has longer open time. The open time gives you more time on larger pieces so lap marks are easier to avoid. This time also gives you more control over penetration through over coating. The down side to that is your project takes longer While you wait for your stain to dry. You run into that with any penetrating stain sold on the open market. Most of the commercial products I work with have had drying agents added to help things along, these drying agents are pretty noxious to work around and I wouldn’t recommend them to the household shop. As a matter of fact I don’t even use them for any of my personal projects. Perhaps it’s because I do very little staining on my personal pieces. My favorite color is natural.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I made a polar table that was dark brown almost black following a wood magazine recommendation. From memory the below link used a black dye followed by a seal coat and then walnut stain.

I'm confused again. Why put a walnut stain over a black dye?
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
Jeff, you may want to do some experiments on your own to clear up your confusion. But I’ll say it again, you can dye a piece of wood to give it a base color, then you can add a penetrating stain to add depth. This actually works, commercial shops do it all the time. I do it when I’m doing repairs on cabinets. Why you ask, because it just plain works. Good luck.
 

Mark Johnson

Mark
Corporate Member
You can also use the technique to highlight specific grain patterns by increasing the contrast have the dye under the stain. It is a great technique to bring additional depth and design to your piece.
 

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