Staining wood kayak paddle

-- Last Updated: Jan-21-12 9:07 PM EST --

I'm making an Aleut paddle out of 3 different wood stocks, and I'd like to enhance their color with a stain for each: sitka spruce (no stain, just natural), wester red cedar (reddish stain), and walnut (deep brown almost black stain). By stain I mean just that: a translucent coloration that does not hide the wood, as opposed to a true paint.

My finish is going to be primarily real Tung Oil.

How would you go about mixing the stain? Can I just use artist oil paint mixed into the Tung Oil, or does the stain need to go on first with a penetrant (and if so, what penetrant)?

Any experienced wood finishers, please advise.


Look at dyes.
Either water or alcohol soluble. Expect some bleed. Experiment on test glue-ups for best results.

I’d recommend just finishing with an oil-based product and allow the wood to darken naturally.

Those woods are beautiful when simply
finished with a good sealer. Spar urethane, tung oil, whatever.

The look I’m seeking.
My current paddle is made of WRC and a small overlay of white basswood. The Tung Oil Finish (not real tung oil, unfortunately) that I used looks great but sort of mellowed both wood colors toward light brown. That “yellowing” is not what I want on my next paddle.

I realize most finishes (except epoxy and acrylic, neither of which do I want to use) yellow somewhat.

So I’m trying to enhance the native color of the different woods in the first place.

I’m concerned that what you’re proposing would get me another mellow shades of brown job. Or am I wrong?

Most species darken over time no

– Last Updated: Jan-22-12 1:02 PM EST –

matter what you do. Some lose their bluish or reddish freshly-cut hues and trend toward the brown you mention. This will happen even with a stain applied. The only way I can think of to alter the natural contrasts before a finish is applied is to carefully paint on a stain or dye that's insoluable in whatever finish you plan to apply.

One thing you could try would be to make a "stain" using artist's acrylics instead of oils, thinning them with water and/or isopropyl alcohol. This will tend to raise the grain somewhat, but if you soak the surfaces of the paddle a few times with water beforehand and sand to smooth each time, it should minimize this effect. The acrylics shouldn't bleed when an oil-based finish is applied, but I'd strongly recommend experimentation on test scraps first to be sure.

Artist's paints that come in little tubes are of varying grades, with the more expensive having the more finely-ground pigments and less fillers. Be sure and note permanence ratings, too. Some synthetic pigments and dyes used in even high-quality paints are considered "fugitive" and will fade.

There's no way to keep that Sitka from darkening, and your tung nut oil finish is going to yellow the tone, too. If longevity of the fresh-cut color is really that important to you, bleaching it or painting it with a whiteish or pickling stain might be your only options.

Not acrylics, unfortunately!
I do work with paints, BTW. Acrylic binder is actually a plastic polymer that is waterproof, oilproof - in essence even when thinning with water, the acrylic makes a plastic coating so nothing else will sink in afterwards. So that won’t work.

It’s either water, oil or alcohol soluble dyes (not so much pigments).

I was aware of the grain raising issue and do a couple of water washes followed by sanding anyway.

I’m looking at Wolfgang Brinck’s paddles, for example (there are many more), where the true wood color does appear to remain. See this to see what I’m aiming for:

aniline dyes …
… it comes as a powder , you mix to depth of color desired .

The aniline powders are specific to either water base , alcohol base , or oil base . You must use the correct aniline dye powder to match the base .

As tktoo already said , damp out your wood , let the grain raise and when dry , sand smooth … do this several times before applying the aniline dye you mixed up .

Remember , each of the specific base dyes can be re-activated by coming into contact with it’s own base later on … so for instance don’t apply a water base finish directly over a water base aniline dye . Ok to put oil over water base dye , won’t reactivate dye and cause it to bleed out … same with oil base , etc. differnt top finish coat base than dye base .

These anilne dyes make a beautiful tinting and tone , very clear looking … you can darken as you go if desired by adding another dye coat after the 1st , even darken the mix before a 2nd caot if desired .

When the newly applied dye dries , it will look hazy and whitish … just wet a small are with water to see what it will look like (dark enough or not ??) after finish top coats are done .

Shelac is a way to use water base dye under water base finish top coats … seal with shelac after dye , then top coat . Any thing over anything if shelac inbetween … shelac is shiny , and will yellow out some though , in time has that pretty ambering you see in fine furnitures and musical instruments and such .

Thin it down enough to use as
a stain, and there won’t be enough binder left to make a difference. Besides, the old myth of oil “penetrating” long grain beyond a microscopic depth has pretty much been dispelled.

OK, thanks, guys. nt