I have been experimenting with some epoxy inlays in cherry. I am using Total Boat table top epoxy, and coloring with Diamond mica powders. They come out great, but after sanding them down to 180, I wanted to change the wood color to make the epoxy “pop” out a bit. I used Keda Dye powder mixed in alcohol, and after a few coats I was very pleased with the wood color, but was not pleased that the dye changed the color of my epoxy. I can still see it, but I lost the contrast I was hoping for. Does anyone have a solution for this? Do wood stains react differently than dye?
Try sealing the dye with a thin coat of epoxy or shellac and allow it to cure before pouring the epoxy.
You might be able to re-dissolve the dye on the epoxy in alcohol. Depending on how large your inlays are, you may be able to use anything from an alcohol soaked paper towel to a wetted q-tip or in between size applicable wiper, if you haven’t clear coated it, or sanded it yet. Use care around the wood since whatever you use will also pick up dye in it too. Clear coat will have acted as a fixer, and sanding may have driven the dye into grit scratches in the epoxy.
I would try a stain… stains rely on being absorbed into the wood, they should not be absorbed by the cured epoxy. Dyes I imagine work more like a paint and therefore coated both the wood and epoxy inlay.
Wood stain will still affect the epoxy color and appearance unfortunately. It may be less affective, than the dye, but will still be noticeable. I found stain, makes epoxy tend to be “hazy”.
There is also a concern with staining, after the fact, that it may not always soak evenly into the wood, especially near the inlay, where the epoxy has saturated and occupies the wood pores/fibers.
You could consider taping off the inlays - as painful as it may be. Or apply a light oil or protectant(like the sanding sealer mentioned) to the inlay portion only. Again, risky if the wood is contacted.
I don’t suggest pouring the inlay after, because 99.9% of the time it does require sanding, or it shrinks below the surface.
Thanks for the great replies, so it looks like altering the wood color on projects with epoxy will present a challenge. I think another challenge is that I am experimenting on cherry, it is really hard and takes a lot of dye coats to get the color soaking in… which messes with my epoxy. I may try on maple and see how that works. I may also play with my order of operations, perhaps get my wood to the desired color, do a thin flood coat of table top, do my epoxy inlay work, then flood coat again. I can then sand to a polish finish.
Maple will take the stain much better than most woods.
Something to be cautious of with epoxy, is color bleed, especially into light woods like maple. This is more common with dyes or tints, but if you absolutely need to color an inlay, I would suggest sticking to a mica pigment. Ask me how I know, lol.