Staining on Design vs Wood Inlay

Ok…Some of you may know…some may not. During the build of the Pygmy S&G Coho I traded with another first time builder for his pygmy osprey. My boat is nearly finished and is really gorgeous. The other fellow called me last evening about ‘buying him out’ of his build. He never got beyond the hull. I’m contemplating the buy but wanted to do something a bit different on the deck. I’ve seen the fantastic inlay designs on other wood boat sites but my woodworking skills and equipment are no where near the profeciency needed. The thought came to mind about using a stain (before the glass obviously)to mimic the different wood. Anyone have any experience with this? BTW I sprayed on the final coat of varnish on the Osprey with a Binks automotive spraygun…What a difference! Thanks in advance for any thoughts/ideas.

In addition to this site…you may want to raise the same question at: a fantastic building site. I would also check out Vaclav’s site: Vaclav writes at length about using plywood other than Okume. In fact if you take a look at the Cirrus, you will notice his use of different plywood for accent.

I know (from lurking on, NOT from experience) that there are some who have done some great work with inlaid wood…even with the 3mm plywood.



I was afaid to try stain…
but these guys will tell you… You might try it on a scrap piece first…

I’d definitely try it out on some scrap first (I can get the same wood locally thru NoahsMarine).I was wondering about sealing the wood somehow (at least along the edge between colors)so there wouldn’t be a bleed (like you get with watercolour paints) Am going to ask the question over on kayakforum.Simply put, mechaniclly I’m pretty damn good…woodworking…Let’s just say I make a better plumber.

I would think that you would have to seal the wood to get a fine edge. But then, if you seal the wood, it won’t accept the stain. It’ll be like painting. If you just seal the edges, the edges would probably end up looking different from the center.

Yes you can do it
The easiest way is to pre-stain when strip building. You can stain after assembly, but there is a good possibily of the stain running from one piece to another. It would not be hard to stain strips all different colors to mimick other woods then apply them. I have done this making chess boards–it works quite well.

To Stain or Not To Stain
Do a quick search on the KayakForum as this topic has been discussed in the last 6 months or so. Nick Schade did some cool stain on his S&G Night Heron, but he did the entire panel. You might try scoring the edge of your design to keep the stain from bleeding outside the lines. I would suggest building the deck and apply a seal coat to the deck. Then just paint your design before continuing with the glassing. You can use translucent paints to allow the wood grain and any knots to show through. The glass over it all will keep it from simply scratching off. Lastly, choose your colors wisely. Certain colors like reds will fade rapidly. The varnish will offer some UV protection, but eventually the sun will get the better of any paint. If you paint after glassing you have the option to change the design later or renew the paint when the colors fade.

I’m glad the spray application of the varnish went well on the other boat. I’m thinking about going that route when it comes time to refinish.

Post some pics of what you are thinking about putting on the deck. Always like checking out others projects and ideas.

Good luck.


Stain will bleed along the grain lines
There is no way to mask it off, but I’ve heard of people cutting the outline with an X-Acto knife in order to sever the grain and prevent bleeding. Test it first, as I haven’t tried it.

Way out of my realm here but…
I understand that if a seal coat is applied first the wood will be a little more reasonable in accepting stain only where you put it.

Just wondering and never tried it… would ‘coloring’ around perimeter of each design with some sort of wax keep things in line ? Can stain be sprayed in sort of ‘mist coats’ ?

Again, I know nothing here but if I had to figure it out I might try the above.

Wax can be scraped off.

Not sure of detail you are going for but it is common to outline (paint or marker) each separate color when working with foam / glass graphics… puts a sharp line around inevitable bleed.

My .02

I have tried staining designs
but they always bleed through. I am considering designs with wood overlay. At specialty shops you can buy thin veneers of exotic woods. it would be easy to cut the patterns with an x-acto blade. glue on the surface and sand the edges for a smooth transition to the deck. I might practice on a coffee table. I have never tried it. just something to consider

If you do inlay, you will weaken the ply
wood locally, although the fiberglass over the inlay will make up for this.

My only experience with inlays and stains was on a harpsichord kit. I agree that controlling the stain is very difficult, and I wouldn’t risk it. You can’t even be certain that the epoxy would not lift and spread some of the stain.

For inlay I used a router attachment on a Dremel tool to remove material. The dies in wood made for inlay (or marquetry) are fairly bleed resistant, at least relative to non-water solvents. You can make your inlay design using methods described in marquetry books. I used Constantine & Sons for marquetry info and materials.

Wax resist
Speaking as a sometimes-potter, I don’t think wax resist to mask out areas of plywood would work very well. It will be very hard to remove and any residue is going to mess up how that area accepts stain and maybe even epoxy.

If you want to play around with masking off areas, I suggest you try liquid latex. You brush it on and after it dries, it won’t let the stain through. Might still get some bleading underneath through the wood fibers. Gives a really sharp line on clay, though. You can peel it off fairly easily after it is dry.

What ever you try, practice on scrap first. Craftsmanship doesn’t come in a day. Good luck.

Iron ons?
Someone at kayakforum mentioned they’d done an iron on of the veneer…I can’t see it holding even with the glass overlays.

weaken the ply…
Amongst my major concerns (besides my lack of skill with inlay or blending woods)was weakening the deck itsself. With pygmys (I can’t speak for other kits)we’re only talking 4mm and even with the glass buildup the wood is weakened in that area.

If your inlay…
…is on the deck, you might compensate by adding a layer of glass on the other side…

the forum will give you the best info. though… GH

Bnystrom put the lid on this question
Mentioned the fact that the oil based stain would compromise the gluing…“Nuff said”…Either I’ll prcatice on inlay or do the deck in (using acrylic slang here)Cadmium red deep nd cream)Thanks…Rich