Flexner on Finishing: Brands of Dye Stain Differ

Make sense of different dye types to understand what works for you.

by Bob Flexner
pgs. 60-63

In the last issue (#230), I mentioned that I liked to use W.D. Lockwood or J.E. Moser water-soluble powder dyes (they are the same) for staining, and non-grain-raising (NGR) or TransTint liquid dyes (they are also the same, just different concentrates) for tinting coats of finish to make a toner.

I’ve written about these dyes previously in Popular Woodworking – for example, in the November 2006 issue (#158). That article is reproduced in my book “Flexner on Finishing.” Though the article covers the broader subject of dyes well, I think I could do a better job of distinguishing between types. There are differences that may affect which you choose.

I would separate the dyes commonly available to woodworkers into two contrasting types: liquid or powder, and metal complex or acid. And I would create a new, slightly different, category for General Finishes dye.

Liquid or Powder
Dyes sold in liquid form include TransTint and non-grain-raising (NGR). TransTint is concentrated NGR. NGR is TransTint thinned a lot with acetone. Lots of companies, including Behlen, sell NGR dyes, which are commonly used by professionals.

Blog: Read Bob Flexner’s blog.
Article:  “Making Sense of Dyes,” by Bob Flexner
In Our Store:Flexner on Finishing” – 12 years of columns illustrated with beautiful full-color images and updated, and “Wood Finishing 101.”

From the April 2017 issue, #231