Ebonizing Mahogany - Minwax stains?



I use Minwax oil stains on most of the guitars I build, and have specifically tried the Ebony oil based stain from the link. The picture of the color of the stain on the Minwax page is kind of misleading; if you look closely you'll see that there is brown mixed in there. On an ash body all the wood grain goes all the way the balck color, but the lighter areas of the wood never go to black, just a "blackish-brown" color even after 7-8 coats. I don't think that you would be able to duplicate the finish on the PRS.

You probably need to use something like this dye concentrate from StewMac:


in black in a satin finish laquer or your water based dye with a satin nitro or other stain top coat finish.
What did it look like?  Was it blotchy?  On my swamp ash strat, I laid down a sealer coat of shellac first to even out the absorption of the dye because swamp ash is so porous.  It worked a little too well as a sealer and the black didn't absorb as well in a few areas, so it has a "worn" look, which actually looks pretty good.  I'm doing my tung oil finish right now.  You might want to try sanding it down to get the black dye off the body and then put down a sealer coat down on the wood first.  Maybe a very thinned out shellac might work better if you want it to get really dark.

I think I may have stumbled on to the finish you are looking for by accident.  As noted, I have applied the black dye, and then coats of tung oil.  I decided to do a good buff of the tung oil finish after coat #4 to get rid a of a couple of bumps and drips.  However, the steel wool buffer attachment on my mouse sander took it down too far and sanded through to the black, removing some of the dye.  So now I had to do a touchup job.  I tried to do a spot repair on the sanded through spots, however the repair was showing up too prominently, so I decided to go over the whole body again, front and back to avoid these touchups from showing up.  After doing so a couple of times I stumbled on to the finish of the PRS guitar you posted.  So apparently, dye / tung oil / sand down / more dye / more tung oil may be the way to go.  I am going back to applying more tung oil tonite and report back.  I will likely do another 7 - 10 more coats.

I've stained a mahogany tele body with Minwax wood finish, and I discovered, if you follow the instruction, the stain comes out too easily, leaving only a small portion of the pigment in the body.  so I waited for at least 30 mins if not over an hour before wiping it off the body.  it was almost like painting rather than staining.  then I was finally getting the color I wanted after several coats.  it turned out great.

but to get that PRS look, I'd paint it without filling the grains so that the grains will still be visible after the paint, and put some satin finish.
@ CD: I can't seem to find the computer cable for my digital camera... otherwise I would have posted some pics. Sorry about that man. But let me tell you, it's pretty horrible looking!

@ red king: Wow, that seems like an awful lot of work, but I'm definitely willing to go the extra effort.

@ leftystratman: Thanks for the tips. I agree about filling the grain: I want the natural look and feel of the mahogany to show through, filling the grain might take away from that.

And after a lot of searching on the net, I'm fairly certain that after I stain the wood I'll use about 10 coats of Tru-Oil as a top coat rather than spraying with clear poly or shellac. All I need to do now is order the damn body! If only I didn't need to pay rent I'd have it sooner  :dontknow:
Hey Dan

See my latest post regarding Tung Oil.  My guitar has a really glossy finish now that I have applied a coat of Tung oil.  I think the key is getting a thin satin finish over top of the black to get the desired effect.  Lee Valley has additives you can put with the tung oil to reduce the gloss.

Good Luck