These two products are great solutions for adding some color to your woodworking projects. They’re both easy to use and give very good results. I’m by no means touting myself as a finishing expert or weekend chemist, but here’s my take on KEDA Wood Dye and TransTint. The main talking points of this review are ease of use and light fastness of each product. Without further adieu, lets get to it!
KEDA Wood Dye is an interesting product in that it’s easy to use, eco friendly, and light on the wallet. Sounds great right? Well, it is. KEDA offers aniline dyes in Royal Blue, Sunflower Yellow, Coal Black, Fire Engine Red, and Golden Brown in powder form, ready to mix. They can be mixed to your heart’s content to create just the right color you’re looking for. The aim for KEDA Wood Dye is to provide a dye that colors wood without covering up the natural beauty and grain of your project. The dye’s strength can be increased by simply adding more powder to the mix, which in turn deepens the color’s saturation.
This product can be mixed with water, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol. For my testing, I used denatured alcohol since the manner in which I’ll be ultimately using the dye is for woodturnings where I may want to “flash off” the dye and stop it from penetrating the wood any deeper. During my test, I followed the recommended mixing instructions, but ultimately ended up quadrupling the amount of dye. I suppose go big or go home was my mood at the time 🙂 This dye seems to penetrate the wood better when the surface is sanded no higher than 150 grit. I originally sanded to 320 with less than satisfactory results, but noticed good improvement in saturation once the surface was resanded with 150 grit.
If you’re looking for a non-toxic wood dye, then mixing with water is the way to go. For example, if you’re doing a woodworking project with your kids and don’t want to expose them to the fumes of almost all other dyes and finishing products, KEDA Wood Dye mixed with water is a great coloring solution! Finish it off with an appropriate non-toxic finish such as my non-toxic paste wax, or raw walnut/tung oil, and you’re in business!
TransTint is revered as a top option for wood dyes in the woodturning circles due to their product’s light fastness. This product is a “metallized acid dyestuff dissolved in a glycol ether carrier” (as described in their technical data sheet. This product is not able to tout the non-toxic designation as it has a VOC content of 22.5 g/oz. For some comparison, MINWAX wipe on poly has a VOC content of 17.3 g/oz.
TransTint is offered in a myriad of colors and can also be mixed to create the perfect hue for your project. It is a concentrated liquid that is added to either water, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol. It can also be mixed with lacquer thinner only if it’s used as a 50/50 ratio with denatured or isopropyl alcohol. I mixed the dye with denatured alcohol for consistency and followed the recommended mixing ratio. This dye penetrates very well. My initial surface finish of 320 grit offered superb color penetration and did not seem much better when applied to a 150 grit surface.
Here we are with the contenders! On the left is Transint and on the right we have KEDA Wood Dye. I’ll apply swatches of each dye to the pecan boards. Two boards will be dyed with KEDA and two with TransTint. One of each board will be put inside and protected from light for the duration of the test. The remaining boards will be subjected to a UV lamp for about two weeks.
First impressions are that I really like how easily TransTint saturates the test boards. It also mixes substantially easier that KEDA Wood Dye, and there’s no time needed for the aniline powder to dissolve. The “resting” time for KEDA Wood Dye is really just a few minutes, so no biggie.
Note how light the appearance of the KEDA Wood Dye is (on right in photo above). After talking with Keith at KEDA, he told me that the mixing directions are really just a starting point and that the potency is admittedly rather weak and figured out that I needed about 1/2 tsp dye/3 oz alcohol. This did the trick! I love that deep blue! (Have you seen the color of my lathe named Big Blue…)
These two lucky pieces got to live under a UV lamp for about 2 weeks. Don’t they look like they’re having a good time?
At the end of two weeks of “baking” I reunited all 4 boards on the tailgate of my truck for a little reunion. It’s pretty easy to see that there is not much divergence from the dye’s original colors, but that the bare Pecan has a noticeable tan.
I’ll be using both of these products for my future woodworking projects. Given the superb end results, I’m likely to use KEDA Wood Dye more just due to it’s eco friendly formula and the fact that it’s UV light fastness is good. However, when I’m combining dyes on a piece to artistically achieve different color combinations and speed is of the utmost priority TransTint will be my product of choice. The bottom line is that either dye is going to be more light stable than unstained or unfinished wood. If you have to choose just one of these products, either will serve you well!
As always, please feel free to drop a line in the comments section and I’ll happily get back to you! Thanks for reading!