The Art of Coloring Wood

A clear and comprehensive overview of using chemicals to colour your projects.

The Art of Coloring Wood

The Art of Coloring Wood

PUBLISHER:Linden Publishing
AUTHOR:Brian Miller and Marci Crestani
FORMAT:Softcover, 144 pages

Let's face it – some woods are bland and beg to have a touch of colour added to their lives. Many of the lighter toned woods – alder, poplar, beech, soft maple, pine –  look anemic, and cry out for a bit of a colourant. When you glue up boards from a handsome species like walnut or cherry, variations in the natural colour can be evened out with an application of a stain or dye. And even woods with dynamic grain patterns can have greater depth and vibrancy with added colour.

One of the limitations of stains is that they tend to mask the grain pattern in wood. Dyes, on the other hand, and chemicals in particular, enhance the natural tone of wood. An advantage of some chemicals over many dyes is that they are more light fast, which is important if your furniture will be placed in sunlight rooms.

If you're interested in learning how to use chemicals to colour wood, then you'll want to read Miller and Crestani's "The Art of Coloring Wood". Miller culls from his 40+ years of experience in wood colouring to explain the nature of chemicals (and to a lesser extend dyes) and how to apply them to bring out the best in the most common lumber species woodworkers use: maple, white oak, mahogany, walnut, cherry, and alder. If it can be used to colour wood, then Miller covers it in this book – ammonium hydroxide, ferrous sulfate, iron acetate, nitric acid, cochineal, and more. Crestani is a columnist who's helped to make this book a very enjoyable read – for a topic that might have otherwise been technically impervious.

The authors explain how to use each of the chemicals listed in the book, and supplement the text with (generally) large photos of finished samples on a variety of common woods. So, if you've ever wondered how to ebonize mahogany. or fume oak à la Stickley, and what the result will actually look like, you'll find the answer in "The Art of Coloring Wood".

Carl Duguay
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