Anyone used tinted epoxy on a stripper?


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I just finished stripping my first canoe with Alaskan Yellow Cedar and decided I'd prefer the color a little darker after seeing a pic of a great dyed canoe (outer hull dyed, inner not dyed, great effect).

I have some analine dye, but with the numerous stripping errors and small knots, I can't imagine I could ever match the epoxy filler with the dyed wood. I already filled a few holes and defects with wood flour and epoxy so it's too late for that in any case :) I assume that using analine dye over epoxy/wood filler would be like trying to dye a window.

I also have some epoxy tint (using all System 3 stuff, Silvertip mostly) and did a tinting test on some scraps and liked the results. But the question is, can I tint the epoxy consistently enough over the entire canoe? System 3 recommends coating the hull with a coat of epoxy before glassing, so just that first coat would be tinted. With analine dye, it'd be easy to make a single batch for the whole canoe, but with epoxy, it'll take at least a couple batches. A mismatched tint job would be worse to me than leaving the canoe as-is.

So, any advice out there? Worth the risk to tint for a newbie like me? Is there a good chance that the tinted epoxy soak in unevenly and ruin the look?

Your first coat of epoxy goes on quite thin so you should be able to mix enough to coat in one batch,you might have to do two coats to get the deeper colour you want
The AuSable River boats that I build are tradionally green on the outside. I use West System expoy and have tried using the tubes of tint that are meant for fiberglass.
I have had no luck I even tried mixing the coloring in a gallon jug with the resin and used the mini pumps and it did not work. All I did was end up with a mess. If anyone knows how to do it I would sure like to know.
Good luck let us know how it turned out.
I use S-1 epoxy made by industrial formulators canada. This is a very thin sealer mixed 50/50. I describe it as thinner than water. Perhaps heating your resin with a heat lamp or in a pot of hot water would give similar results.
You prep your hull for recoat,brush it on and can recoat without sanding within 24 hours (S-1). I mix analine dye into the second coat.
Wear a respirator as the fumes can't be good for you.
After it is cured you can light sand. This is probably not going to hide blotches or prior discolouration. Wear a dust mask when sanding.
I top with varnish for UV protection.
Q: But the question is, can I tint the epoxy consistently enough over the entire canoe?
A: Not likely.

The problem is a combination of uneven application thickness (and as a result, uneven color) and the very real difficulty of trying to sand the cured epoxy layers down to a uniform thickness and shade over an entire hull. At absolute best, this is nearly impossible. The result will not be pretty.

Analine dye will most likely color small areas of cured epoxy/filler mixes (at least long enough to get the glass on and seal it in place). Whether or not the color will adequately match the surrounding wood, making it a viable option, is another question which is best answered by doing some tests on scrap material. Even if you have to hand color the fills with a small brush to get them to match, you probably would have a much better chance of a good result by using the dye on the wood and filler, followed by clear epoxy/fiberglass layers and varnish.

Be aware that some analine dyes are pretty light-fast (especially under a good UV-filtered varnish) and others will fade in short order (also not pretty). Most people have better luck by applying multiple coats of dye, mixed to be fairly transparent and gradually building up the color, rather than trying to get even color with only one or two coats. The solvent vehicle in the dye will also dissolve previous layers to some extent, re-liquifying them, so application of multiple layers needs to be done carefully and always work in the same direction as the wood's grain. Unlike oil stain, you have very little time to work with these or rub them out, so you have to work quickly.

As far as the idea of coloring just the coatings, your best bet would probably be to put your color on in the form of tinted varnish over sanded, clear epoxy. You can buy very powerful, light-fast tints (guitar builders use them). Unfortunately, spraying is likely to be the only method that would really generate even film thickness and even color. Rolling and tipping multiple tinted layers might come close, but it's hard to say how close without trying it. At least with tinted varnish, you can sand off mistakes and start over - something that isn't a realistic possibility with the other methods.
Thanks for the comments. I think I'll play it safe and leave it natural for now. Like Todd and woodenkayakguy say, there are options with varnish or even paint. I dont' have S-1 epoxy, so I would worry that my S3 epoxy would not behave the same.

I think a very slight darkening of epoxy on the first cost would probably be OK looking, even if it was not very uniform. But, even on my single strip test, I can see the shading change with thickness easily. In the end, I'm learning enough new-to-me techniques that I'll forgo the tinting for the hull. Instead, I think I'll tint the gunwales during epoxy seal (after testing scrap gunwale more thoroughly of course).

Gary - The System 3 epoxy dye seems easy to use. Just mixes with the resin before adding the hardener. Not sure if they have green though, or if it works well with other epoxies...
You may find the light-colored wood more interesting than you think it will be. We used to build a lot of strippers out of sitka spruce (back when it was cheap) which is very light in color. Once the resin hit an entire canoe, the look and color variations got a lot more interesting than it was in the raw wood stage. Your wood may be similar.


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Thought I'd post a couple pics of my canoe. I didn't tint the hull, but I like the look pretty well now after putting down the sealer coat of epoxy (first pic is pre epoxy). Like Todd said, it got more interesting. I still plan to tint the gunwales for contrast.

The only downside of not tinting the hull is that the knots really pop out visually now. But it's a rustic look that I'm getting fond of. My wife loves it so I guess that counts for 50%. But next canoe will be all clear wood. My plan was fewer knots, but my novice B&C and ripping job left too many clear strips that I couldn't use. Oh well, it's just for lake use and the yellow cedar is pretty strong stuff, so it's not a strength issue.

Anyway, overall I'm amazed how good the canoe looks given all the filling and sanding I've done.



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tinted epoxy

There's always the option of painting the exterior, FWIW. Personally, I still like the wood look, knots & all!
Anyway, overall I'm amazed how good the canoe looks given all the filling and sanding I've done.


Ah Enlghtenment! The Sanding Zen of Canoes!