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I am about to start work on the plank-sheer and railings for the quarter deck,which I would like to finish black in colour. I am thinking about using dye instead of paint for this purpose. I have purchased some Fiebing's black leather dye and wonder if anyone who has used this product can advise on their experience using it.


Some of my concerns are.....


Adhesion after dying process with both CA and PVA glues.

Sanding  after dying process

Bleeding into adjoining areas

If Poly finish can be used on dyed wood.


Any thoughts and tips in addition to the above would be appreciated.

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  • 3 weeks later...

You can work with Fiebings with some advance planning.  It does bleed easily so I would suggest scribing a line and then mask with Tamiya tape between the areas you dont want the dye to bleed into and be careful not to flood it.  Make sense ?  And then I've used danish oil as a top coat.  Check out my Confederacy log to see the results.  


I'd probably just use water based paint next time though - as Gaetan said - its much easier to control.  

Edited by ChrisLBren
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I have quite a bit of experience with Fiebings and its great stuff. Its a very strong dye so you may want to experiment with thinning it with rubbing alcohol to get the shades you want. You need to dye everything before you put it on the model or it will run all over every thing. I haven't had any problems with using a clear varnish over it. The below photo is brown dye in different shades on my golden hind and thinned black on a structure model.   BILL

Edited by reklein

Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren

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post-248-0-55653000-1434120907_thumb.jpgpost-248-0-29051600-1434120967_thumb.jpgHeres the pics , I hit the wrong button. The pic with the boards is of the stained wood drying.If I have a lot of sticks to do I use a flat plan and dump the sticks in and immediatlt remove. It only takes a couple seconds. Maybe wipe of the excess stain or touch the dripping end of the boards to a paper towel to remove excess. Also dry time is onlt ten or fifteen minutes. When used as a wash all the wood grain shows through and it looks quite natural , but is hard to control when wet because of the low viscosity. Bill


Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren

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Hi John,


I've been using Fiebing's Leather Dye on a colonial schooner model and I've had pretty nice results with it on pear wood. I don't know how well it looks when used on other types of wood. But, on pear it's great. It has a wonderful sheen to it and it's as black as can be.


I haven't tried to glue anything to the dyed wood and I'd be a little concerned about PVA adhesion. However, I've glued died wood into place. I'd generally score the died surface where the glue needs to hold and CA seems to work very well so far. Haven't had any joint failures at all.


As others have said, it's best to dye parts before gluing them into place. I wouldn't even try to apply die on the model except for touch up. Then, I found that I could touch it up quite easily by using a small paint brush. 


Dyes don't penetrate wood as much as I would have expected. The surface layers of wood, if sanded off, will expose the natural wood. As I mentioned, you can touch it up pretty easily with a small brush. The nice thing is that because it's not paint, there's no build-up to worry about.


Biggest issue I ran into was that if you do coat it with wood oil, be really carefully of applying it, because some of the dye will rub off onto your cloth and you can easy get some onto the surrounding wood. 


All that said, dye creates the nicest black finish if done right. 



Edited by catopower

Clare Hess

He's a -> "HE"

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The wales of this Echo class cross-sectional model are holly, blackened with Fiebings leather dye. Staining was done off the model. I used three coats, lightly sanded in between, added one coat of dilute sanding sealer and finished with a light buffing of 0000 steel wool. Treenails were added after gluing in place and touched up with more dye on a very fine paint brush. I wear disposable gloves and treat the dye like it is a potential disaster in the making...which it is if spilled or seeps into adjacent work.






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Thank you all for your replies on experiences and tips using Fiebings leather dye. The outer quarter deck planking supplied in the Unicorn kit came dyed/stained black and I liked how the grain looked when finished with poly,as apposed to painting them. I will use the advice given and dye all wood off the model and scrape or mask any area where adhesion is needed. I'll also keep my better half happy and do all dyeing in the garage

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HI Greg,

I can testify that dye spills are a disaster! :P The dye seems to have near zero surface tension. In my case, it flowed through the cap (tightened)  when I accidentally knocked over the bottle and did not notice it had fallen over. What a mess :(. Since dyes have no solids like paint and do not form a film I know of no reason that you could not use the same adhesives on dyed pieces as you would on undyed pieces. My clumsiness is legendary :rolleyes: so I have switched back to paint out of fear! ;)  Still, there is no denying the dye has a wonderful degree of "jetness" that is hard to obtain with paint.


Jaxboat B)

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I have used aniline dye in furniture building.  In building Windsor chairs with different wood species (pine, maple, and ash) I used different dye concentrations to match the color.  Chair assembly was done after dyeing with no dificulties using Tilebond wood glue.  Based on my experience, I recommend you dye your material off the model.





Edited by Pete Jaquith

Pete Jaquith


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