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catnip

Staining revisited

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I have been following Peter Westerlund's build and in his video #45 he uses a German product called "Positiv Beize" or positive stain.  This is a water stain that is designed for  softwoods such as spruce and pine.  It is supposed to enhance the grain lines.  He applies the stain in video #45 then in the next video he polishes the stain with a kitchen scour pad which seems to bring out the grain lines very nicely. (at 1:40 of this video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEyty1ZGcQ4&t=183s

Is there a similar American product?  It seems that staining soft woods results in grain reversal  which has  "negative"  effect on the grain lines.  I am experimenting with different methods on test pieces of spruce but would be very interested to hear how others enhance grain lines with a stain?

stain.jpg

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Danke, Ich habe diese Website gesehen, aber ich konnte keinen amerikanischen Distributor finden. I knew my High School German would be useful one day.  

I think it is a combination dye/pigment stain.  My guess is that applying the stain with a spray gun minimizes soft wood absorption and polishing it leaves the pigment part in the grain lines...

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I don't really see anything interesting there. He really doesn't show any closeups of the grain, and his description is very vague. It's also interesting that he's only putting it on the inside of the top, where no one will ever see it!

I suppose that it's possible that polishing would leave the resinous grain lines shiny, and the softwood between grains dull.

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The trick here is to have the hard grain lines below the level of the soft grain and to have some thing on the wood already to prevent the stain from soaking in. If you then rub out the top with some thing stiff enough to ride over the hard grains without touching them the grain will retain the stain which will be removed from the higher level soft grain. Similar effects can be done by vigorously rubbing out regular colored varnish at some stage of the varnish process.

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17 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

The trick here is to have the hard grain lines below the level of the soft grain and to have some thing on the wood already to prevent the stain from soaking in. If you then rub out the top with some thing stiff enough to ride over the hard grains without touching them the grain will retain the stain which will be removed from the higher level soft grain. Similar effects can be done by vigorously rubbing out regular colored varnish at some stage of the varnish process.

Your method does not apply to Peters use of positive stain. It is a chemical reaction between the winter growth lines of the spruce and the stain. Shortly after application it may look pretty muddy, after a while it levels out and enhances the grain on spruce. This works not only on corduroy spruce but also on perfectly flat spruce. 
A downside of the spruce is the heavy reaction with glue residues which can look pretty bad.

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2 hours ago, Michael Szyper said:

Your method does not apply to Peters use of positive stain. It is a chemical reaction between the winter growth lines of the spruce and the stain. Shortly after application it may look pretty muddy, after a while it levels out and enhances the grain on spruce. This works not only on corduroy spruce but also on perfectly flat spruce. 
A downside of the spruce is the heavy reaction with glue residues which can look pretty bad.

Michael, 

Are you sure of this? What kind of chemicals react with hard grain but not soft grain? Is there a difference in the chemical make up of the cells between winter and summer?

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17 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Michael, 

Are you sure of this? What kind of chemicals react with hard grain but not soft grain? Is there a difference in the chemical make up of the cells between winter and summer?

Well, i am sure that in this case it is the stain which makes the enhancement of the winter grain and not the accumulation of stain in the „corduroy-valleys“. I testet it on several planed, perfectly flat spruce boards and achieved the same result as on structured surfaces. This effect only works on spruce. I did not observe this behavior on maple. 

Yes, there are differences in the hemicellulose, lignin and glucomannan concentration between summer and winter growth. 

I have no clue what kind of chemical reaction it is (there are far more qualified people on this forum to comment on that). I could imagine some kind ofd van-der-Waals forces and hydrogen bonds causing the accumulation of the stain favorably in the region of the winter growth.

P.S.: In my stains Azo-dyes are used, but i have no clue if there are metal complexes included, too.

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The final step of polishing with a kitchen scour pad would suggest that Nathan's conclusion is correct.

There are chemicals which will darken the soft and hard grains equally, and those which can darken the hard grains more than the soft grains, but I have never used them, since I don't know of any which are not destructive to the wood.

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Hi Michael,  Did you test the Aqua Positiv Stain from Zweihorn?   I can not find any reference to a similar product that is available here Canada or the USA.  Peter says that it non toxic and he does not wear a mask.  Here is the tech specs from the company.

aqua-positiv.pdf

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6 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I have so far been unable to find a meaningful Material Safety Data Sheet from this supplier.

The product is proprietary, I do not know if Germany has MSDS laws mandatory, the company says " special synthetic dyestuffs and micronized pigments" it does have a 12 hour dry time, so that is interesting in a strange way.

But what I find most strange is that this Luthier is using it to coat the inside, why? what for? 

?

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25 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

The product is proprietary, I do not know if Germany has MSDS laws mandatory, the company says " special synthetic dyestuffs and micronized pigments" it does have a 12 hour dry time, so that is interesting in a strange way.

 

This does suggest that the product is, at least partly, some sort of oxidizer.

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2 hours ago, catnip said:

Hi Michael,  Did you test the Aqua Positiv Stain from Zweihorn?   I can not find any reference to a similar product that is available here Canada or the USA.  Peter says that it non toxic and he does not wear a mask.  Here is the tech specs from the company.

aqua-positiv.pdf 428.67 kB · 5 downloads

Yes, i tested also the Zweihorn brand as well as the Clou positive stain. Both behave in a very similar way. I can only repeat that they behave completely different than the usual commercial wood stains, which may cause an inversion.

Peter says that he was told it is non toxic. We don’t know. The best protection mask would be a combined FFP- and ABEC filter. 

Regarding the reaction time: Despite the instructions, which claim that the drying/reaction time takes about 12 hours, my observation is that the most happens in the first 30 mins. After that it barely changes. And yes, immediately after the application it looks like a wood stained by the usual method. 

I think the pronouncement of the winter grain is quite nice. There are a few downsides: The stained wood does not look completely like old wood since it has still a lot of its fresh shine. Therefore i like to combine it with a horse manure treatment. 

By the way, i have the not confirmed suspicion that the second part of old woods “Italian golden ground” is such a positive stain.

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

This does suggest that the product is, at least partly, some sort of oxidizer.

Particularly in that it is a water based product.

To the best of my knowledge this was specifically design for large interior work such as floors and cabinetry. It does tackle one of the old world problems of getting an even color on softwood on large areas. The winter grain in general has much more saps present in the grain.

Sapped grain as we know is notorious for not wanting to absorb colorants . On wide plank flat sawn material we often see large swaths of sapped flat grain figure that when stained a dark color will not absorb color in these parts of the grain, that is why this product was developed, to be able to make the winter growth areas absorb color like the spring growth does,end result even coloration and grain celebration...

that being said I have no idea why anyone would want to use such a thing on a violin and certainly wonder what is  supposed to be the advantage of air brushing on a light coat on the interior of a top?.

Again the link I left has contact info, I'm sure one could call them during business hours and get info on where the product can be obtained and or if they will ship a small amount outside of a distributor. 

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39 minutes ago, Michael Szyper said:

Yes, i tested also the Zweihorn brand as well as the Clou positive stain. Both behave in a very similar way. I can only repeat that they behave completely different than the usual commercial wood stains, which may cause an inversion.

Peter says that he was told it is non toxic. We don’t know. The best protection mask would be a combined FFP- and ABEC filter. 

Regarding the reaction time: Despite the instructions, which claim that the drying/reaction time takes about 12 hours, my observation is that the most happens in the first 30 mins. After that it barely changes. And yes, immediately after the application it looks like a wood stained by the usual method. 

I think the pronouncement of the winter grain is quite nice. There are a few downsides: The stained wood does not look completely like old wood since it has still a lot of its fresh shine. Therefore i like to combine it with a horse manure treatment. 

By the way, i have the not confirmed suspicion that the second part of old woods “Italian golden ground” is such a positive stain.

I have a feeling that the 12 hour suggestion is that because they recommend strongly that the product be over coated with a solvent based clear coat. Which is implying that the product is susceptible to re-solventing if coated with a water based clear coat.

This is very similar to how sugar stain works, it makes a great even colorant but should be coated with a solvent based product in order to not "mix" or re-wet the product, which will lead to "lapping" and other issues.

By stating a 12 hour dry time they are probably covering their bases and ensuring its plenty dry, I do wonder how hygroscopic the product is , particularly if used on the interior of a violin with no film based product over coating it.

Something tells me this was not the traditional product used by the great Cremona makers and therefore I would be hesitant to want to push it's use too much unless there is some clear advantage to using it which I can't see what that would be

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2 hours ago, jezzupe said:

But what I find most strange is that this Luthier is using it to coat the inside, why? what for? 

I think he coats the inside to give it an aged look.  Peter is a copyist and makes his new violins look like they are really old which to my way of thinking means "aging" the inside.  He applies the same stain to the outside. Interesting note is that he applies his nitrite treatment after the ground varnish and not on the bare wood

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12 minutes ago, catnip said:

I think he coats the inside to give it an aged look.  Peter is a copyist and makes his new violins look like they are really old which to my way of thinking means "aging" the inside.  He applies the same stain to the outside. Interesting note is that he applies his nitrite treatment after the ground varnish and not on the bare wood

He also puts albumin over the ground varnish before putting nitrite, otherwise I don't think it would work (proteins oxidize with nitrite), although in reality I have never tried.

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38 minutes ago, catnip said:

I think he coats the inside to give it an aged look.  Peter is a copyist and makes his new violins look like they are really old which to my way of thinking means "aging" the inside.  He applies the same stain to the outside. Interesting note is that he applies his nitrite treatment after the ground varnish and not on the bare wood

I see, well at least there is a reason. If it helps him get what he wants that's all that matters

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1 hour ago, jezzupe said:

I have a feeling that the 12 hour suggestion is that because they recommend strongly that the product be over coated with a solvent based clear coat. Which is implying that the product is susceptible to re-solventing if coated with a water based clear coat.

This is very similar to how sugar stain works, it makes a great even colorant but should be coated with a solvent based product in order to not "mix" or re-wet the product, which will lead to "lapping" and other issues.

By stating a 12 hour dry time they are probably covering their bases and ensuring its plenty dry, I do wonder how hygroscopic the product is , particularly if used on the interior of a violin with no film based product over coating it.

Something tells me this was not the traditional product used by the great Cremona makers and therefore I would be hesitant to want to push it's use too much unless there is some clear advantage to using it which I can't see what that would be

It stays water soluble even after 24 hour, so you have to be very cautious when using water based coatings directly over this stain. 

I am sure exactly this type of stain was not used in Cremona. But on the other side, there is evidence according to B&G that they used stains to color the wood. Therefore i could imagine they used a plant based stain with similar effects like this positive stain. 

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4 hours ago, Michael Szyper said:

It stays water soluble even after 24 hour, so you have to be very cautious when using water based coatings directly over this stain. 

I am sure exactly this type of stain was not used in Cremona. But on the other side, there is evidence according to B&G that they used stains to color the wood. Therefore i could imagine they used a plant based stain with similar effects like this positive stain. 

Yes, I'm sure they were using stains, I like Manfio am a big fan of tea for a stain base, If I use one, but in this case this fellow has a specific reason for using it so more power to him if it works, I am by no means a "traditionalist" who only uses ancient recipes and am open to anything if it seems right for the particular job.

Side note for those looking for a rose red base with a nice fugitive end result,, Hibiscus tea, amazingly lightfast all by itself, it will brown out in time , but definitely keeps a red tinge when over coated. I've been amazed at how long my uncoated samples have remained red in inside normal light conditions,after 5 months on raw wood they have now just started to brown out, even then the brown is quite a strong base color, I would say so far the darkest tea I have tested.

I do think Alder has a great idea with this as home/ building softwood blotch is a big problem that leads to millions of dollars in insurance claims and contractor grief based on needing to redo projects. Sometimes these bad stain jobs come out so bad and the wood is so  absorptive that the material needs to be removed and then redone, refinishing is not possible. 

I saw a 150k in Larch window casing have to be torn out and redone based on softwood blotch, "stain controllers" can be helpful, but are by no means a guarantee of an even stain job. I have seen many other contractor nightmares from inexperienced people trying to stain large softwood projects. so regardless of what applications for violins there may be, if the product performs well on large areas it should be a big hit in the world of home building, because I tell you, softwood blotch is a real money killer in construction.

 

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I agree with you ... staining soft woods (spruce) is a problem so why is there no similar product available here?

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1 hour ago, catnip said:

I agree with you ... staining soft woods (spruce) is a problem so why is there no similar product available here?

Coatings industry is a billions dollar a year buisness that is very cut throat and is all based on chemist's coming up with products that work, the entire "green agenda" created massive amounts of lost money in "redo's" where unsuspecting contractors were guinea pigs for these coatings companies that were forced to come up with "green alternates: many of which did not work,and if they did, they did not last and it's still quite a big problem to this day.

So quite frankly no one in the states has come up with a formula that works, it is VERY easy to come up with something that works on 1 sq ft.it is entirely another thing to come up with a formula that works well on large areas.

I have never tested this product so I do not know what it can or can not do, I do always raise an eyebrow when I see a professional company selling a product that will rehydrate and or resolvent. It really creates application issues under real world conditions where many users will not be able to control the environment well enough to be able to successfully apply it. For example a large wood floor where a re-soluble product is susceptible to scuffs, so then they say take off your shoes, but then your feet get sweaty and start leaving foot prints everywhere, and if that happens it creates a nightmare and no one will ever buy it again, I have vetoed at least 5 formulas for that very reason,as an example.

I used to work for many chemists as a coatings product tester to help them determine if their products actually work, you would be surprised at how much money goes into formula development only to have a group of people who really have no real world experience using and applying the product they are trying to create, which really makes for big dollar problems,smart coating development teams always factor in field testing for new stuff and they hire and use real world contractors on top of their teams to do so ,but you would be surprised how many of them either don't do that or do a very small test area and then think that will apply to a large surface area.

there is lots of money to be made and there is lots of money to be lost, one of those veto's was a formula that had about 4 mil into development and was about to be released on the general population, thank gosh I caught the problem and they didn't, who knows how many contractors that would have screwed over, and that was an un-named German company too which goes to show you that making crappy chemical formulas and then releasing them on unsuspecting tradesmen,contractors and DIY homeowners is a universal international thing.

My gad' when I think of the late 80'to mid 90's and what some of these shall not be named companies were doing to contractors and homeowners I want to puke, virtually every waterbase formula that was forced on the general public were absolute garbage, cost millions of dollars in grief/do overs and were responsible for breaking up marriages as well as actually killing people by contractors either committing suicide or creating massive problems between clients and contractors to where someone freaks out and shoots someone, seriously I know of 1 suicide from a botched multi 100k job and know of one story where the contractor and owner got in a serious argument over the "blotchy stain" the contractor took off in a huff and accidentally ran the guys dog over, when he got out to check what he ran over the owner came out and shot him dead in the driveway, to which he then went to prison for murder....over what....BLOTCHY STAIN and an uneven clear coat....it's deadly serious business :ph34r:

 

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Jezzupe, Thank you for your detailed explanation of the inside workings of the coating industry and for sharing your experiences here.  You have been very helpful in suggesting  some much simpler yet effective approaches to enhancing flame (on hardwoods)  such as the sugar sealer. There was much discussion a few years back and you were very helpful in explaining your method.  Have you had success with enhancing the grain lines in spruce?   Currently I am retesting my procedure of using a tannin ( similar to tea) followed by varying concentrations of sodium nitrite NaNO2 and sunlight

IMG_1081a.thumb.jpg.a3a14f187ff94f70ab88f9f18c88200d.jpg

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