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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Potassium Dichromate dye


Hi Greg,
I used white oak to make an Arts and Crafts footstool.  First I brushed on a water based tannic acid solution and sanded down the feathers raised by the water.  Then I brushed on Potassium diChromate solution in water.  It makes a beautiful brown red color that is hard to match.  But I know it is a "dangerous" chemical. My questions are, how dangerous?  why?  what are the symptoms?  Is it still dangerous to handle after it has dried?  Should I be very careful of the dust when sanding and wiping it down?  Is the finish dangerous to any else down the line?  Is it safe after tung oil is applied?  Thanks, Dave

Hey Dave, Potassium Dichromate is a strong oxidizer, and toxic to humans...dust from sanding, liquid vapors, skin toxicity, and environmental toxicity are all concerns. Wikipedia has a good entry about it here:

I would stay away from the stuff, personally...General's waterborne dyes have excellent clarity and color strength, and are great on hard woods.....I'm sure you can get the color you're after, and without exposing yourself to the same can find them here...among other places:
Do not thin them with water, buy the reducer to thin which will keep grain raising to a minimum, and they can be altered with TransTints concentrates, or freely intermixed for an endless palette of color that will never get "muddy"....Most stains, when 'sealed' in by a finish, and that finish fully cures, become pretty safe- hope that helps- Regards- Greg

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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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