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Thread: Fiebing's Leather Dye

  1. #1

    Default Fiebing's Leather Dye

    I've been testing all kinds of color combinations and applications methods trying to arrive at my preferred colors. I began using TransTint dyes then started trying out Fiebing's leather dyes. I've used a variety of things to dilute them all, including denatured alcohol, pure grain alcohol, and water. I have also tried all kinds of combinations of available colors in a vast array of quantities and ratios. It's been a fun experiment (even if I have made a bit of a mess in the shop...)

    The colors and mixes that I finally decided upon were three Fiebing's leather dye color combinations. I understand that Fiebing's dyes are alcohol based (which becomes immediately evident when you open the bottle!). However, this particular combination of colors I chose to thin out with distilled water. I found that the colors popped really well and also that they blended more easily for me. (There's a picture below of what turned out to be my favorite application--even though I realize it may be a little non-traditional and also on a scrap test piece).

    Here is my question: With Fiebing's dye already being alcohol based out of the box but my diluting it with distilled do I treat it in terms of compatibility with other finishing products and methods. For example, since I've now added water to it, do I need to raise the wood grain before application? Since it contains alcohol already can I use a shellac wash coat or not? Can I use a shellac-based topcoat/finish after the dye has dried, or do I need to use something more compatible with alcohol-based dyes? And so on...

    I'm really happy I've found colors that work. Now I'm worried about every other product I might use with it!

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    North Carolina

    Default Re: Fiebing's Leather Dye

    That's an interesting burst.

    Your question gnawed at me for a couple of days, so I looked up an MSDS for Fiebing's Leather Dye (, which I have only ever used on leather. From the 11-page document, it looks like there's nothing in there but alcohols and pigments.

    As you said, you applied the dye with water. Consider the grain raised. Once evaporation has taken place, there's no water and no alcohol in the dye anymore.

    Shellac would be my choice for greatest compatibility, it being alcohol-borne and having a high degree of adhesion. Try using the same dye treatment on a piece of scrap, apply your finish of choice, and see what happens. My guess is it'll work just fine.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Fiebing's Leather Dye

    I use the Leather Dye, not the Suede Dye. I spray my bursts. Typically, I rub a straight coat of yellow on followed by a coat of shellac then I mix dye and lacquer to spray the burst. If I mess up then I can strip everything off down to the shellac sealer coat and start over. That process has worked for me although I'm trying to get away from tint jobs. Doing everything natural.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fiebing's Leather Dye

    Whether I'm staining with alcohol or water as the base, I inevitably screw things up.
    When I screw things up, I sand back the surface with 400 or 600 grit along the grain until I've not completely changed the color of the instrument, but enough that I've "reset" the finish enough that I can get it back under control.
    This is basically an expected part of the process, I guess I use this as my "grain raising" method. After a few of these cycles, it takes less and less sanding and less and less dye to get things dialed in. By the time I'm done, it's super smooth and grain raising isn't an issue with my waterbased finishes.

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