Black stain/dye wood

I’m thinking of trying to get the surface of some plywood to be black, and then carve a pattern into it, which will end up being white. So I need the surface to be very dark, but I would like the wood texture to remain strong. But, I don’t want the dye to seep into the wood too far or unevenly, or the carving will be black in some areas.

I’m thinking something like a thin sealant on the surface first, like wipe on poly, then applying some kind of dye or stain, then carving through that and applying the wipe on poly to the carving.

Has anyone tried something like this? Anyone have any tips?

Iwould love it if it ended up looking like this, except where I carve:

How about a veneer? More work but man would that be sexy.

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I’d think that if you were to use poly as the sealant, you might as well use a dark acrylic paint and then carve thru it. Just my two cents.

As for a sealant, I’ve used glue-size (wood glue diluted with water) before to help with even finish coating on maple.

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I’m just worried that paint would make it look more like MDF. Maybe the devil is in the details.

Some veneer would work, but it is more stressful, and expensive. I’d want to do both sides. Something like this might work:

Maybe I can find something locally instead. I’m also worried that if I didn’t do it well, it would chip out a lot, like the cheap plywood do.

This is for the MP3DPV2, BTW.

I might cut some chunks and try some things first.

You might be able to clear it them mix some black dye in some poly. Not sure how well it would work though.

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My grandfather many years ago used some kind of sealer on a hutch he built for my Mom and then stained over the sealer. Fast forward to a few months ago Mom decided she wanted a different look and wanted to paint it instead of it being stained. So she went to remove the clear coat to prep the wood and the stain wiped right off. It was the strangest thing. Literally right back to the original wood color below.

All that being said, I think your sealer and then stain idea would work. Problem is the finish might be too easily removed. You should experiment first. However that hutch survived over 20 years in my parents dining room with little damage. As long as you apply a top clear coat for protection it should be fine.

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Dont know If you’ve already tried it but, a good wood conditioner might work. I dont know if it will prevent the stain from penetrating the wood too deep, but it should atleast make the penetration depth even across the piece.

It has nothing to do with stain or dye, but you might want to look into the DIY charred siding technique. generally the wood grain will still show through and heck, its an excuse to play with fire…


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Shou sugi ban looks cool. The fire resistance would be nice on a homemade printer :smiley: . It would probably be the least consistent depth though.

I think I have some wood conditioner. I have used it to stain pine before. I will give that a try too.

That’s cool. I definitely don’t need it to last a generation. I’ll test something like this as well. I think it’s time I cut a few chunks out and get something started.

So, what exactly are you saying you would do?

Mix Titebond I with water, for 1 coat, then apply black acrylic paint? Or are you saying mix black paint with glue and water in one coat? Or just black paint and carve through it?

Finally getting back to some fun things after a few hectic days. I was referring to two different approaches.

  1. Use the acrylic paint and then carve thru it, then put a poly or some other sealer on it if you want. If you use a strong grain wood (like the oak in your original post) you should still be able to see the grain after painting.
  1. Titebond and water (one part Titebond to 10 parts water). Let it dry and then apply the stain - the glue/water mixture should limit the depth the stain soaks into the wood so that you wouldn’t have to carve too deep into the wood.

There are other options out there instead of glue size, but I haven’t tried them so I can’t speak to their effectiveness or cost.

I tried a few things that haven’t worked. I started with something I could find at home Depot, which is this stain/poly combo. It is supposed to be completely black, but it’s very streaky, so I bailed on that. I have since bought some “India ink” and some black acrylic paint. I will try the samples a few ways. The prestain seemed to actually be the opposite of what I thought I wanted, in that it helped seep further into the wood. It did seem to stop at the first veneer though, so I’m still going to try it again. Having the first veneer perfectly stained would be excellent.

[attachment file=56658]

This india ink is cool. The top two are the ink, the bottom section is the acrylic. The acrylic is about 1000x cheaper, but I dont think I need a lot for this printer. I need to see how it lookes when you carve it. This piece has the glue to seal it first. I have some samples without that. The poly samples didnt let the ink seep in.

[attachment file=56659]

I really like the ink, shows more character. Not many printers have real wood in them, nice to showcase it a bit. The contrast with the red…

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