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Staining wood

RELATED TOPICS: WOOD
Q: I am currently working on my first diorama, based on plans of the wood-frame building in your book Creative Dioramas for Your Scale Auto Models. One of the steps calls for staining the wood with Floquil stain. As far as I can tell, Floquil no longer makes this product. Do you have any advice as to what else I could use? Could I use hardware store wood stain?

- Joe Barker
via E-mail

Ken: Floquil's decision to drop its entire line of stains has indeed left a void for those of us who like to weather wood; however, the Flo-Stains we'll miss the most are Natural Pine and Driftwood, which allowed us to realistically achieve the look of exposed and naturally weathered wood.

Commercial stains can certainly be used for our applications, but we can go one step farther to fill that Flo-Stain void:

Old, untreated wood that's exposed to the elements exhibits a unique silvery tone that can be achieved by using a thin wash of leather dye and denatured alcohol. Leather dyes are available at most craft stores and big outlets.

Pick up small bottles of black and either light or dark brown, and experiment with various ratios of dye to thinner for the look of old wood. But be careful: straight dye, right from the bottle, is quite strong, and you'll probably need to start with a ratio of 8-10 parts thinner to one part dye.

Since this is your first try and weathering wood, keep the tones light and darken the pieces as required. (You can always go darker, but lightening a dark stain is tricky.)

Another product you may wish to explore is called Weather-It, available at hobby shops that cater to model railroaders.

Our eyes are our most important modeling tool. Walk around and look for old, weathered wood buildings, fences, signs, etc., and carefully examine the colors; those are the true colors you'll need to duplicate to create
believable weathered wood.

Good luck with your project, Joe, and thanks for the kind words about my book. Let us know how you make out with your wooden building.


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