Technical Thursdays - Dyeing and Spraying archive

Thursday 20 November 2014

Tony Davis looks at how dyeing and spraying your work can enhance the burr detail and figuring of the wood


Dyeing and then spraying with lacquers - acrylic or cellulose-based - can bring out the figuring and burr detail that would, at times, be a bit lost if you choose to not colour the wood. Masur birch (Betula pendula), horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)>, sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) and maple (Acer campestre) burr, and the roe figuring on silver birch, are just a few examples of timbers that can work well with this type of treatment.

Below you will find some pointers on how dyeing and spraying can enhance your work.


Turn your piece to the shape required and fill any major defects or fissures, unless you want to go for a more rustic look. Sand the piece down to a minimum of 400 grit, but go to 800, if possible


Now stain the wood - I prefer spirit stain. I only use one colour here, but you can use multiple colour washes. I prefer a subtle colour wash rather than a full-blown concentrated dye. I dilute mine with cellulose thinners - 100:1 - this enhances the grain or burr without drowning it in colour. Leave this to dry before you see the true colour. If the colour is too light then you can re-coat


Once fully dry and when you are happy with the effect, coat the piece with cellulose sanding sealer diluted 50/50 and leave to dry. Once dry, sand lightly up to 600 grit then coat with neat sanding sealer, leave to dry, and then sand with 800 grit abrasive


Now apply the lacquer. I find aerosol or sprays are better, but make sure that as you apply them, you turn the lathe by hand whilst spraying over the complete piece. Continue to slowly turn the piece by hand until the piece is tack dry. Once dry, sand with 600 grit, re-spray, then leave overnight to dry


The last stage is to use a burnishing cream or a buffing wheel system to create the desired lustre

Briony Darnley

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Tony Davis , Technical Thursdays

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Handy Hints

1. When you put dye on timber, remember that the slightest fault, sanding marks etc. will always show up
2. If you have problems with a fluffy surface, you can coat with cellulose sanding sealer diluted 50/50. Wait to dry, then take off a light skim - you may need to do this 2-3 times with a sharp gouge to get a good finish
3. Do not bother with coves or beads - they can cause problems when spraying