Wood finish experiment

The stripped maple thwarts and grab handles I installed two years ago in my Rapidfire were dyed with a water-based dye and coated with poly. Two bad moves. The water-based dye faded in the sun and the poly evolved into a dull plastic look.

While touching up the gunnels with Cetol Light (I’m still ambivalent about that finish) I removed the grab handles and thwarts, stripped them and refinished them with a homemade oil mix. Used 50% pure tung oil, 30% real terp and 20% oil varnish. There are many variations of this old boatbuilders mix, usually with linseed oil. I used stuff I already had and guessed at a ratio of ingredients.

The parts look great (today), strips in the maple really show. No idea how the stripped maple will look after a few years of sun exposure and use. Those who go on Columbus weekend to that central PA lake (that we shouldn’t talk about until mid Sept) can check out this oil mix finish.

The Waterlux used on the apple wood decks has held up extremely well and still looks great. I just wiped it again to blend in a few light rubs.


Water based dyes
What kind of dye did you use? WDLockwood makes very durable water based dyes.

Water based dye

Does WDLockwood dye hold up outdoors with direct sun exposure?

I’ll have to look at my shelf of finish stuff to see if I can guess the brand of waterbased dye used.


Water based Dyes
I was turned onto it by some wooden boats guys ala Chris Craft restorers. I know the red stain over brown mahogany seems to be very fade resistant. The folks from Lockwood are very helpful.


water vs oil
I do a bit of woodworking, mostly small indoor stuff like boxes/shelves/small tables but also some canoe parts and I can’t think of one time that I’ve been happy with a water-based dye except for a primary type color with a washed look. Otherwise, for canoe parts, I do what Mad River Canoe used to do. I mix minwax oil-based dye with Watco Teak Oil.

Yeah, I’ve had mixed results with dyes, and have heard mostly negative stuff from folks who tried them in boat projects.I think the more popular water based dyes we see in the local stores aren’t near as good as what I’ve seen from the Lockwood guys though. I’ll be interested to see how it holds up longer term.