I just completed a build for a customer that wanted a purple Let’s Split case. I have some purple heart available, but I also had a case that I had started in oak. I was able to offer it to him at a cheaper price, so he went with that option. (Be sure to check out the shop to see what else is available.)
I did some research and found a method for using RIT dye, easily available at the grocery store and usually used for clothing. I decided it would be a good idea to do some experiments on a scrap piece of the same oak used for the case. I started by adding about 1/2 tsp of dye to 2 tsp of 50% isopropyl alcohol. The color was way too light, so I used a 1:1 solution instead. Ideally I would have used denatured alcohol with less water, but I had the isopropyl on hand. The results of the first test were very promising. Natural oak, and purple heart in the background for comparison.
After drying, the liquid had pulled the grain up in the wood so I needed to lightly sand it again. This took off some of the color:
After another coat of the same 1:1 solution. The color was more uniform and a deeper purple:
After it dried, I very lightly sanded it with 400 grit paper, and applied two coats of spray-on shellac.
This gave a nice purple color with a glossy finish. The picture is not great, but I turned on the flash to show the glossy surface.
Confident that the process would work. I started in on the case pieces. I first sanded with 220, then 400 grit paper to smooth all of the surfaces. After I wiped it clean and let it sit for a while, a few rough surfaces had popped up so I sanded back down with 400 grit.
Then I mixed up the same 1:1 solution and applied with a rag, pressing down to thoroughly soak the wood. After it dried for a few minutes, I wiped it down to remove the excess.
While this was going on, I started laser cutting the plates. I don’t have many pics of that process, but here’s a decent one, shot through the top glass on the laser cutter which is orange tinted.
When the laser cut was completed and the dye had mostly dried, I did a quick test fit.
I left the dye to dry overnight and most of the next day, then I sanded with 220 and 400 grit to smooth the raised grain.
Again, it look some of the color off, especially on the edges. Then I applied another coat of the dye-alcohol solution. This time I used a foam brush instead of a rag to get a more even coat.
Again, I let it dry completely overnight, then sanded lightly with 800 grit paper to avoid removing any of the color. I used a spray-on shellac to seal and give a gloss finish. I applied the first 2 coats, letting it dry about 10-20 minutes between. I let it dry for a couple of hours, then I sanded lightly again with the 800 grit paper and applied to more coats in the same fashion.
Here some shots of the finished product:
If you’re still here, thanks for reading and be sure to check out the shop. If you’re interested in custom designs, contact me via email or on reddit.