View Full Version : Enhance Contrast with Stain

George M. Perzel
01-05-2012, 8:36 AM
Hi Gang;
Some woods do not have a great contrast when engraved. Filling is one option but this can be a tedious process which produces mixed results. A quick and easy solution is using water stains to enhace the contrast. Water stains use aniline dyes, which can also be mixed with DNA, and which come in a wide variety of colors-easy to make, dump the packet into the solution and shake-ready to go at full strength for normal staining but dilute with about 5 parts water for this process.
The process depends on using finished wood as the base engraving medium-lacquer or poly finishes work best and close grained wood such as cherry, maple, and birch are ideal. Open grained woods such as oak are not good as bleeding can occur through the open grain tubes.
After engraving, simply brush on stain and wipe off immediately-work in small sections.
See before and after pics below-this is done on cherry.
Best Regards,

Greg Ellis
01-05-2012, 10:10 AM
Thank you very much for posting, I have been looking for a nice finish like this. If I were to buy pre-mixed wood stain from a store, would I still dilute it prior to application?

Paul Phillips
01-05-2012, 12:40 PM
Nice looking work George, do you know if this will work with traditional solvent type stains like Minwax or only with the custom water mix?

Kim Vellore
01-05-2012, 1:02 PM
It looks real good esp when you see with and without the stain. Here is a thought for porous wood one could coat with a wax type polish which makes it water proof then laser and use the stain. Kim

George M. Perzel
01-06-2012, 5:27 AM
Should work with solvent stains but would thin them a bit and make sure solvent is not the kind that would dissolve the original finish. I like the water since it is easier to control.
The problem is that the lasering exposes the grain structure and on porous woods the grain is made up of tubes which al;low the stain to bleed. I will do a sample and post a pic-sorry if not very clear.
Best Regards,

Jeff Belany
01-23-2012, 11:23 AM
I have a run of 400 small plaques. I used Hard Maple because I have a lot on hand (just bought 1100 BD FT) and as most of you know, Maple doesn't darker much when lasered. I was going to color fill these but wasn't looking forward to that much work so I really liked the stain idea. I was getting ready to try it when a saw a bottle of brown leather dye and thought I'd try it to see how it would work. Diluted it but it still soaked in the grain too much. I'm sure I could have got a weaker dilution to work but then I tried a bottle of brown shoe polish (I use the shoe polish to color the edges of brown Marble tiles used as coasters). Just plain Kiwi liquid polish, has a foam applicator on the bottle, brushed on the piece and wiped it off. Worked great -- no fuss, no muss!! About half way through the job and they are coming out real nice and easy as can be. A couple things -- the wood was finished with lacquer (water based) so I'm not sure how this will work with Poly but I plan to try it. I use a lot of Maple but I hope the technique will also work on Baltic Birch which is another wood that doesn't darken up very much, at least for me.

Give it a try -- FWIW my technique is this -- wipe on a few at a time, take a dry paper towel and wipe excess off right away, then take a damp (I use cheap window cleaner) paper towel and clean up the piece. Very quick and very easy. I attached some pix to show the process. First shows before and after, last three show with polish, wiped off, then cleaned off.

I know others have done this, just thought I'd mention my success with it.

Jeff in northern Wisconsin

Dee Gallo
01-23-2012, 11:45 AM
Great results, Jeff! I like to use paste shoe wax for the same thing, it seems to add a nice shine to the surface when you buff it.

Along the same lines, my newest favorite wood finish is Tru-Oil, used for refinishing gun stocks. This stuff is easy to apply, fast drying and leaves a hard finish. You buff with steel wool and it glows. It also darkens engraved lines in wood. Winner!

~ dee

Khalid Nazim
01-23-2012, 2:32 PM
Hi Dee,

Do you use the spray can version of Tru-Oil or the liquid version?