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How to Dye Wood With Rit Dye

Updated February 21, 2017

The Rit Dye company started out in 1917 with just one man, Charles C. Huffman, and a single 5-gallon pot that he used to make fabric dye. Now, Rit dye can be used to dye wood, nylon, clay, feathers, fabric and paper. The dye comes in over 500 colours and can be used for almost any dyeing project.

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  1. Lay a dust sheet down to protect the area where you will be applying the dye.

  2. Lightly sand the wood all over with sandpaper.

  3. Wipe the wood with a tack cloth to remove sanding dust.

  4. Measure the appropriate amount of dye for the size of the area you are dyeing. For every 1/2 cup of dye, use 2 cups of hot water, stir well. Be sure to wear gloves any time you are handling the dye; it may stain your hands. If you are dyeing a large area, do not mix all the dye at once. The dye absorbs better if the water remains hot; it is better to mix in smaller amounts to avoid having to reheat the dye.

  5. Dip the foam brush (you may also use an old cloth or a bristle brush) into the dye mixture and test the dye on a small, unnoticeable area to see if it is the colour you like. If it is too dark, add more water, if it is too light add more dye.

  6. Paint the dye over the wood, evenly, while wearing rubber gloves. If there are detailed designed areas or joints, it is better to use a bristle brush. The foam brush is best for large areas. Let the wood dry for a few hours.

  7. Seal the wood by applying polyurethane once the dye on the wood is completely dry. Depending on the size of the item you are dyeing, you may need to apply more than one coat of polyurethane. If the polyurethane is not absorbing into a certain area, rub the area with steel wool and then reapply the polyurethane.

  8. Allow the wood to dry for a few hours once the polyurethane has been applied.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tack cloth
  • Dust sheet
  • Sandpaper
  • Rit Dye
  • Measuring cup
  • Hot water
  • Spoon
  • Rubber gloves
  • Foam brush, bristle brush or old cloth
  • Clear polyurethane
  • Steel wool

About the Author

Based in Columbus, Ga., Ashley Hay has been covering animal health and wellness since 2004, and arts and entertainment since 2008. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in psychology from the University of Central Florida.

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