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Old 12th January 2013, 09:38 PM   #1
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Default Tinting Clear Finishes for a Dark Look

I'm interested in trying to achieve a layered finish using a dark solid color base paint and a tinted clear lacquer / varnish / shellac. I'd like to accomplish a dark blood red like at the bottom here. I could see using a red base paint with a black tinted finish or a black base paint with a red painted finish.

I know that it is possible to tint most water and solvent based clear finishes with standard universal colorants. Most of what I have been able to find on the subject has been related to achieving mildly colored wood finishes that show the underlying wood color and grain.

Does anyone have any guidance on how to make very dark, saturated colors work in this way? Experience with specific paints, specific clear coats, tint formulas, etc would be very helpful.

Note: I would prefer to use water-based finishes simply because I have to work indoors for the next 5 months or so. I can either spray or brush, so that is not an issue. The base will either be MDF or ply, whatever the lumberyard has a good price on.
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Old 8th March 2013, 04:44 AM   #2
Einric is offline Einric  United States
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I would say to do a Dark Brown primer with a couple of coats of Red on top.
Automotive Polyurethanes will spray well, and some automotive finishes are available in water based now.
Then I would do a clear spray on top of that tinted black.
You would probably want to dilute some Titebond 2 50% with water and brush a couple coats on the raw wood before priming.
Trust ME, this will save you much heartache along the way.
After the second coat of diluted glue then do a very light 220 sanding to knock off the rough spots.
Spray a coat of primer and sand again.
Spray more primer and sand again.
Repeat until you have a nice even base built up, then proceed to the Red and the Clear tinted Black.
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Old 8th March 2013, 06:21 AM   #3
Johno is offline Johno  Australia
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Buy some Mahogany wipe on stain which will give a rich, deep red/maroon. usually metho based.
Buy some shellac flakes and dissolve in some metho, approx 1 cup of each. The better quality shellac is a dark reddish colour if you can find it.

Get a small (6in square) sample of your base timber. Pacific maple ply is a very high quality surface and would give you an excellent foundation for staining. MDF does not stain well because it is full of binding polymers (that are quite toxic btw) and if you paint it the painted surface does not stain at all.

Make 3 or 4 stripes, with the grain, on your sample with the Mahogany stain. First stripe is one application lightly sanded, second stripe is 2 applications lightly sanded after each application and so on. You will see the effect getting darker and darker with more stain.

Now apply a thin coat of shellac evenly over the whole sample with a varnish brush (wide but thin cf a paint brush wide and thick) and let it dry for 24 hours. Lightly sand with very fine paper or even soap free steel wool just to smooth the surface. Do this for 5 or so coats of shellac, maybe more depending on your taste, and you will get the deep glossy "piano" finish over a deep dark red. Obviously you do not sand the final coat.

Now you have the basics of pseudo-french polishing and the recipe for how heavy to apply the stain. The shellac mix (1 to 1) is very strong and could be diluted to taste.

The whole process is hard work and requires extreme cleanliness and care. A stable internal temperature is ideal. When you start for real, get your practice on the rear or hidden surfaces first so that you develop a repeatable technique.
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