Preserving Grain Pop When Staining Anigre

A finisher gets advice on matching a stain color while enhancing the pronounced grain figure on some Anigre veneer. July 25, 2010

I am trying to match a stained sample on figured anigre. The sample is grain filled with the color very even (Brown Maple color) and the 3 dimensional grain really pops as you move the sample around. I can get a very even color by spraying a light coat of dye stain, but it is killing too much of the figured graining. I tried to put the colorant in the sealer with pretty much the same result. Does anyone have tricks that will keep the figured grain from being obscured?

Forum Responses
(Fnishing Forum)
From contributor T:
I have seen finishers spray a light coat of water and alcohol solution to pop the grain first, then apply a dye.

From contributor B:
Different flitches and old samples have different pop in figure. I would first look at how big the parts are on this project and the penetration of the dye. The pop in the figure is created by the penetration of the dye into the veneer. Do not add any sealer, as this will stop the penetration.

If you spray a 12" X 12" sample you should be able to wet it out enough to achieve this. Now, what if you're spraying wall panels 40" X 120" - can you get it wet enough to get the same effect as the sample? More than likely the answer is no. This will be your biggest problem and this is how I deal with this exact situation. Are you reducing the dye stain with a solvent? If not, reduce it 50/50 with solvent. You need to look at the evaporation rate of the solvent that you're using with the dye stain. Instead of using acetone, use alcohol. If that's too fast, use methanol. If that's too fast, use slow reducer. Remember to take a break in between each pass that is made on the sample. You want your spray rate to resemble spraying of the actual product. This will give you a better chance at making the transition between sample and product. There is no other way to do it, especially if your customer is a fanatic about the pop in the figure. If they were not, they would have chosen maple.

From contributor J:
Contributor B gives good advice. The correct solvent will work wonders. When properly reduced and sprayed, dye should enhance and pop the grain, never hide or obscure it the way a stain or pigment toner would. How much reduction is necessary will depend on the dye, the color you are trying to achieve, and your technique. For most off-the-shelf NGR dyes, I like to reduce about 400% and build my color in several "just wet" coats rather than fogging on one coat of unreduced dye. Remember the dye will look very different once it is clear coated.

From contributor P:
Are you using a grain filler? They can obscure the figure.

From contributor S:
You might try switching to a water dye. Search the Knowledge Base for "chatoyance" for further info.