First stain test

Tonight I did a small stain test!

First, I wanted a reference piece with a red only stain (because it’s easier to get a consistent finish that way). As you can see, it’s a really flat finish. It doesn’t show of the nice flames the Maple has:

Then I did a test on the former body laminate test piece, first dyed it black, sand back and stain it red afterwards. I immediately noticed two things:

  • The black stain is sucked in on the sides of the Swamp Ash body very aggressively, creating a much darker tone with the same amount of stain; which is also harder to sand back afterwards.
  • I sanded the top of the Maple too smooth and didn’t wet it enough in the first place, so it didn’t take the stain (both black and red) as good as I’d hoped.

I also made some marks by spilling an extra dot of red stain on there, creating a lighter area when trying to whipe that off. But it’s a test piece, so it only helps me to get some experience. But you can clearily see the grain of the Swamp Ash pops out nicely and the colour of the finished red is also better (less orange / bright) opposed to the red only example:

Then I did another test piece. The wood was prepared better (sanded and wetted enough) and it was easier to sand the black stain back consistently, due to the flat surface. I also applied more layers of red. I think the grain shows well on this (furthermore unfinished) test piece and I think the oil / varnish will really make it pop:

One thing I did not manage to do is to keep the sides clean. I taped them off but the coloured water got under there anyway. I need to seal the sides first with some sealer, but I do not have any experience on that yet, so I will do some research on that topic first.

I think the last test piece has the perfect colour and the grain shows very well. The only drawback is that I find it very hard to get a consistent result and that the sides of the Swamp Ash are a bit hard on me. Also, I’d have to solve the issue of not colouring the sides of the headstock. Taking all this into account, a clear oil finish would be far less adventurous and I think that might be the safest option. But I do like the red (imagine the white pearl pickguard on there!)…