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Staining ribs to match?

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by MikeCav, Aug 26, 2005.

  1. MikeCav

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    Time to resurrect one of the lost threads that was very helpful...

    Pros & Cons of staining a new rib to match the old? Stain or leave it be? Stain a little light so it will darken to match over time?

    Favorite stain/tint combinations?

    Best method to test the match?

    Inquiring minds want to know!
  2. charvey

    charvey Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Aniline dyes

    I'm no expert here, but I have had great success with aniline dyes. I first varnished all old wood, leaving the new wood bare, so that I could create a stain formula to match the true final color of the old varnished wood. On scrap sections I mixed an matched Early American, cherry, and mahogany till I created an exact match. A little rubbed on charcoal added some distress to the new wood. Stain and varnish.

    I first did this on a canoe 8 years ago. To this day the aniline stained wood has not faded or gotten darker.
  3. sandpiper

    sandpiper canoe builder

    Allo everybody. To stain or not to stain?? Well, I often do repairs on old canoes and most of my customers want the planks or ribs to match the old ones. So, there we go. Of course, if the canoe is made of red cedar, we use red cedar to do the repair. So bye for now. sandpiper
  4. mariola01

    mariola01 BethlehemBoatWorks

    I'm working on an old canoe right now and alot of the planks need to be replaced. I visited a lumberyard and they sent me home with a sample of redwood. It's low density, straight grained and exactly the right color to match the antique red cedar planks. Has anyone ever used redwood before? Is there any reason I shouldn't go ahead and use red wood instead of red cedar? Any input will be helpful.
  5. OP

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    Charvey - thanks for the idea of varnishing all but the new ribs then using that as a comparison for the stain.

    Here is what I did and much more satisfied with the results than with my last boat.

    After stripping, bleaching and sanding to 220, I applied a mix of 1/3 spar - 1/3 boiled linseed oil and 1/3 mineral spirits to the entire interior except for the 4 new ribs.

    Using golden brown transtint dye disolved in DNA, I made a dilute solution that had the proper color, but lighter tone than the desired final. I experimented with scrap rib material and found that 4 applications of the dye would get me the color I wanted. Since the alcohol solvent dried almost instantly, it was easy to do. I also tried the charcoal trick - worked great.

    Below are the results. First photo is the boat with 1/2 of the interior coated with the varnish/oil mixture; second is the entire boat with the new ribs left un-touched; third is boat with ribs stained to match and coated with the oil mix.

    Attached Files:

  6. Ric Altfather

    Ric Altfather WCHA #4035


    Nice work...this is another great thread that needs to keep going to build on the knowledge bank that was lost. I'm not to that point where I need to worry about the color match but will get there soon enough.

  7. OP

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    Thanks - I'd also like to hear others thoughts on the topic. After getting what I thought was a good match - I think I went one coat of stain too dark! The new ribs are a tad too dark/red now after the sealer coat of varnish today.

    Any thoughts on fixing or should I leave well enough alone?
  8. Andy Hutyera

    Andy Hutyera The Red Canoe Guy - Life Member

    For what it's worth, the guy that sells Transtint dyes wrote a book on finishing (Jeff Jewitt). He claims you can leach out some of the color by rewetting with the solvent. As I recall Transtint can either be disolved in water or alcohol. It might be worth a try. Since the surounding area is all varnished you don't have to worry about the dye bleeding into adjoining areas.

    I just reread your post- guess you already vanished over it. Sorry.
  9. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Wood dyes (as opposed to pigment stains) are beautiful products because they have very small colorants that impart a very even color to stained wood. This is because the dyes penetrate deeply, leaving a beautiful clarity to the colored wood. Pigments stains, on the other hand, are made with relatively large pigment granules and they color by the pigments lodging in the grain of the wood and in surface roughness. This is why pigment stains are so effective at highlighting the grain. Because pigment stains sit on top of the wood, they tend to muddy its appearance more so than dyes (the ultimate in this category are the filler stains often used on mahogany runabouts- these are often glommed on the wood leaving a hideously muddy appearance, in my humble opinion!).

    Dyes are either dissolved in water or alcohol. Water as a solvent makes dyes that are easier to control; dyes in alcohol dry very fast, but don't raise the grain as water does. Here's the big potential problem, though: as pretty as dyes are, almost all dye products warn against them being non-color-fast when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Behlen's Solar-Lux is supposedly more light-stable (hence the name). TransTint and TransFast dyes specifically warn about using them in high-UV environments, even indoors. Most pigment-based stains are much more light-tolerant.

    I have asked manufacturers about the use of dyes under UV-shielded spar varnishes, and have gotten only equivocal answers. Thus, dye colors may not be permanent under long-term exposure to UV radiation. On the other hand, our canoes generally are not left baking in the sun for great lengths of time like the decking and trim of Florida yachts, and our canoes are covered in UV-shielded varnish. So dyes are probably a good risk, especially given their ease of use and excellent coloring properties. If they aren't permanent on our stained ribs, I wonder whether they will simply fade to a lighter version of the same tone, or whether they will color-shift. Mike, let us know if your new ribs turn purple someday... maybe you'll start a new avant-garde trend in "designer" canoes!

  10. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I have been aware of the UV-warnings for Transtint dyes, but use them anyway. I run under the theory that a) the spar varnish has (or at least should have) lots of UV inhibitors in it, and b) as the dye fades, the wood is also getting darker and developing its own patina due to uv exposure, hopefully at about the same rate as the loss of dye. Don't know if it really works, but it sure sounds good! I much prefer the look of dyes - pigment stains really enhance the grain pattern, especially in flatsawn stock, but it does so as a negative - opposite to the way the wood darkens naturally.


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