Hi All,

I'm working on a CBG with a white plywood veneer sound board and a white poplar wood neck and head stock. The white wood doesn't suit my tastes, so I was thinking of staining it. Since B&Q (my local hardware supplier in China) does not sell small cans of wood stain, I decided that I should make my own wood-stain using small packages if iron oxide pigments that they do sell for coloring grout (I assume, since that is where this pigment was located - next to the tile grouting products).

My first experiment was with Iron Oxide Yellow, which looked nice if you can believe the color sample on the side of the box. But, don't believe these color samples. On poplar and white wood in general, it looks very yellow and a slightly putrid shade of yellow at that. What I did is took some cooking oil from the kitchen and mixed a little of that with a little pigment, stirred it up and then wiped it on using a paper towel. I tried a second coat, but that didn't help much. So, I decided to return to B&Q to buy the other pigment colors and try them.

Well, I went back to my (somewhat) local B&Q (a 30 minute bus ride), and found out that they sold out in just a couple days, and didn't have any more. I then checked out the XiLi store and they were also sold out. So, finally, today I went to their FuTian store and found that they had it. So, I bought 3 boxes: "Black Iron Oxide", "Red Iron Oxide", and "Umber and Sienna". They cost about 1 US dollar per box. At home, I examined the pigments. The black is very BLACK, the red is very RED, and the "Umber and Sienna" is very brown. So, I chose "Umber and Sienna" as the next pigment to try. I mixed it and wiped it onto my CBG, re-staining the yellow to a medium brown, almost pecan color. This looks pretty good, so after it dries, I'll probably touch it up and then add a few coats of water based polyurethane.

However, I have also been thinking of coloring the fretboard in two colors so I can better tell the accidental notes from the natural notes. I think what I will do is to use the black pigment to darken the accidental fret (finger) positions as that's how they do it on the piano keyboard. So far, I have never bothered to put "dots" on fretboard to help tell where I am, I guess because most of what I build is diatonic. This new CBG will be a chromatic 4-stringer. I'll be sure to post a few photos when done.

Beyond decorating the soundboard, neck and headstock with home made stains, I was wanting to experiment with wood burning. Now the only tool I have that might be suitable for wood burning is a old soldering iron. Is that a pretty good tool for wood burning, or do I need to go out and buy special tools for wood burning. Well, I guess I should go use Google and find out.

Well if you have any input about home made stains or wood burning, feel free to add your constructive input here. Thank you,

-Rand.

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Replies to This Discussion

From an old issue of Fine Woodworking (can't recall the date), you can make a toner by tinting Watco, Minwax Antique Oil, or boiled linseed oil with artists' tube oil colors.  Supposedly, with a small palette of burnt and raw umber and sienna, and black, you can replicate any known wood tone. Other colors work well, too.  No reason you can't take a tube of green oil paint and make a green stain.  Note that the ordinarily slow-curing artists' oils will be accelerated by the dryers present in the oil finish.

 

Here's another CBN thread on the topic of making Homemade Wood Stains.

For ideas on decorating CBGs, check out Doug Thorsvik's photos. He combines wood burning and batik (patterned cloth) to decorate his guitars and basses. Here's an example:

He does beautiful work. The dark brown/black colors on the body and headstock are made using wood burning tools while the blue pick guard is batik fabric covered board coated with kind of glue. That's a cool guitar strap, too. To see more of his photos, click on this link.

-Rand.

Back to the topic of home made stains. Remember these are stains and not paint. I did a pretty good job at applying the "Umber and Sienna" stain, because I put it on rather thin. Then, when I applied the Iron Oxide Black stain, it only left a gray stain, so on my next coat I heaped it on, painting it with a bush and left it overnight to dry. Well, it ran a bit, so the borders of where the black ends and the brown begins looked bad. Plus I found it didn't completely dry and I got finger prints all over the place. So, I applied one coat of polyurethane on the brown parts, then let that dry and then I washed off the black. I still have more sanding to do to make it look better. Then I'll touch up the brown, stain it, and then come back and do the black. Maybe I'll use paint if I can get the deep black I want. Well, that's all for now.

-Rand.

 

Here are a couple of photos showing the progress I am making with staining the wood. In the first photo you can see how the Iron Oxide Yellow looks. I didn't like that, so I used a coat of "Umber and Sienna" on top of the yellow and got the results shown in the second photo. Definitely more brown, an almost natural wood coloration.

 

Here's the Iron Oxide Yellow:

And here it is again with a coat of "Umber and Sienna":

As you can see in the second photo, I tried to color the accidental fret (finger) positions black using a very thick coat of Iron Oxide Black. It turns out that this thick coat of black was not dry and came off easily, resulting in a lot of black finger prints. The lesson learned, use Black Iron Oxide in thin coats. I think next time I also won't do an under coat of yellow and "Umber and Sienna". Maybe by the third coat, the black iron oxide could not be absorbed into the wood. I have washed off the excess black and will sand the wood once it has dried and try again.

-Rand.

 

 

Hi Chuck,


Sorry, I didn't notice your reply to this discussion. Yes, oil paints might make for some interesting wood stains when diluted a bit with some other oil. I haven't tried this yet, but yeah, that would open a wide range of different color options not limited to the various shades of brown associated with wood. Right now, the "Umber and Sienna" pigment mixed with cooking oil is my favorite, and it does seem to have the potential for many different shades. But I suspect if you want to darken it up, you just need to add a very little bit of Black Iron Oxide, as a little seems to go a long way. I'll have to check out the artist supply store (part of 'Book City') - there's one in here in NanShan and I know they sell oil paints.Thanks for the suggestion.

 

-Rand.

 

 

Chuck Dubman said:

From an old issue of Fine Woodworking (can't recall the date), you can make a toner by tinting Watco, Minwax Antique Oil, or boiled linseed oil with artists' tube oil colors.  Supposedly, with a small palette of burnt and raw umber and sienna, and black, you can replicate any known wood tone. Other colors work well, too.  No reason you can't take a tube of green oil paint and make a green stain.  Note that the ordinarily slow-curing artists' oils will be accelerated by the dryers present in the oil finish.

 

Oils come in two main varieties, drying and non-drying.  Cooking oils tend to fall into the non-drying class, with the possible exception of walnut oil.  You want drying oils, such as boiled linseed (really not boiled, but has metallic dryers, or "siccatives" added to shorten drying time from months to days), tung, or any oil sold as a wood finish.  For a faster drying stain, try varnish instead of oil; the artist's colors are just as compatible, oil being a major ingredient in varnish.

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