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Thread: dyeing pen blanks, need your help UPDATE

  1. #1
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    dyeing pen blanks, need your help UPDATE

    I need to make a whole bunch of black and red blanks. I have no clue how to do it. The pens that I'm going to make are shotgun pens and will have either a black or red top. I'm thinking that I could use something like RIT dye after the blank is turned ????? Will the dye be affected (wash out or run) when I put on the finish??? The blanks will be maple. I've been using shelawax or mylands. I'm trying to make these as inexpensive as possible so blackwood, ebony and other exotic woods are not possible. Any ideas???????
    Last edited by Bob Gibson; 01-18-2012 at 12:52 AM.
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    Bob for the Black part I would use something like a red oak or a walnut, then use the vinegar and steel wool for the red part I would use any clear wood maybe even bass wood and then use trans tint dye. The reason why I am suggesting bass wood is that it is inexpensive and very clear grained.
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    The Rit dye will tend to fade pretty quickly with use. I agree with Don's suggestion to use Transtint dye, but I think I'd use it for the black parts, too. Hard maple would also work for the red parts (or black parts for that matter) and have good durability. It's also nicely close-grained with no visible pores. Walnut or oak would also dye well and be nice and durable, and have a more open-grained look if that's your preference.
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  4. #4
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    Thanks for the ideas. Much appreciated.

    OK Rit is out. I'll go to woodcraft or rockler in the morning to get some transtint. What about Dan's recent thread. He uses analine dye? would that be harder or easier to use?

    I'm guessing that I should apply the dye after the blank is turned. Does it make a difference with using water or alcohol a to dilute the dye? Will I have a problem with the blank cracking or shrinking if I use water? The turned blank is pretty thin. I also wonder about raising the grain. If I have to sand it after the dye will I sand off the dye?
    I'm concerned that if I try the steel wool and vinegar method that it being caustic it will affect the brass tube?

    I like the idea about using red oak. It's super inexpensive and I can see how the darker color of the wood will work better with black dye. I have a lot of clear maple so I'll try the red dye on that. Basswood seems like it may be too soft for what I need it for.

    If all works out I'll need to make quite a few of these. Any ideas on how to speed up the dying and production process will be appreciated as well
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  5. #5
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    Simply using felt tip markers is almost a standard method talked about on the pen forums. I have done it once when I needed to make a special shade of green for a customer. Worked fine.
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  6. #6
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    Thanks Frank I'll give it a try
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    Unfortunately, the felt tip markers will also fade over time. It's also more difficult to get an even color with them. Transtint is pretty expensive, but a little goes a long way. I'm still using bottles I bought 3 or 4 years ago, and I was dying bowls and hollow forms instead of pens.

    Bob, I'd use alcohol as the carrier for the Transtint, because it'll raise the grain a lot less. It also dries much faster. You may still get a little grain-raising, but when that happens to me, I sand very lightly with 600 grit to knock the grain back down, then add another coat of dye. It usually only takes one or two of these cycles to get the grain to stay put. I do the same routine when I'm using water as the dye carrier, but it just takes longer between coats to dry, and more repetitions to get the grain all the way down.

    Aniline dyes are good and colorfast, although the ones I've seen need to be mixed with water, so you're back to the whole grain-raising issue.
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  8. #8
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    another thought ,,what about corian i the colors you need? dye not needed..
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  9. #9
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    Thanks Vaughn !!!! Transtint and alcohol it is.

    I thought about corian Larry. Since the hole i have to drill thru the blank is 9/16" I need a blank cut to alt least 1" square. Maybe even 1-1/8". The corian that I've seen is only 1/2" thick. I don't always get my holes perfectly centered and end up cracking the blank.
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  10. #10
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    [QUOTE=Vaughn McMillan;320081]Unfortunately, the felt tip markers will also fade over time. It's also more difficult to get an even color with them. Transtint is pretty expensive, but a little goes a long way. I'm still using bottles I bought 3 or 4 years ago, and I was dying bowls and hollow forms instead of pens.

    Bob, I'd use alcohol as the carrier for the Transtint, because it'll raise the grain a lot less. It also dries much faster. You may still get a little grain-raising, but when that happens to me, I sand very lightly with 600 grit to knock the grain back down, then add another coat of dye. It usually only takes one or two of these cycles to get the grain to stay put. I do the same routine when I'm using water as the dye carrier, but it just takes longer between coats to dry, and more repetitions to get the grain all the way down.

    Aniline dyes are good and colorfast, although the ones I've seen need to be mixed with water, so you're back to the whole grain-raising issue.
    I mix aniline dyes with the least amount of water that will dissolve them. Then I use Isopropyl Alcohol 99% pure as the carrier, not the dreaded Methyl Hydrate.
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