Max McCool: Wood Grain Dye Job

When I began the wood grain heads, I looked at a lot of different examples of how it had been done before. Jace from LaxNation gave me a lot of guidance, and I have to thank him for that. He came out with a wood grain dye before any other I saw, so I have to thank him for leading the way. This is dye project has been more difficult and given me more headaches than any other I’ve ever done. But, I think the two heads show how my process evolved after a first attempt.

For the first head, I used liquid electrical tape to coat the head with a few layers. I then used combs, a knife, and other items to rough up the surface of that tape. I was trying to make a pattern that resembled the grain in wood, but it was very difficult to keep consistent. On the first head, the darker one, I used light brown, spread on my liquid electrical tape, scuffed it up, and then dyed it cocoa brown. (These are all RIT colors, by the way) When it came out a little too light for my liking, I dipped it again into Dark Brown. This is how it came out as dark as it did. Overall, the head looks a bit like a darker wood, but you can’t really see the grain pattern because of how dark it is.

On my second attempt, I went with rubber cement. It was easier to spread around, but harder to keep my grain pattern consistent. I spread on the rubber cement and let it dry for a minute or two until it became more jelly than liquid. Then I used a serrated knife to put rows of lines into the cement. If it moved around too much in blobs, I would try to reapply the cement and start again. Towards the end of the process, I realized that the best method for getting the lines is to let the cement come to a near-dry state, and then use an Xacto knife to draw parallel lines in the cement. You can tell (on the second head) near the throat area where this method came out the best.

It was harder to keep the lines parallel on the curved parts of the head, but stay patient. Remember to cover every piece of your head or you will get huge patches of darker brown that will mess up the overall effect. Small tears in the rubber cement are OK. It will catch on the tip of you blade and start to rip, but just pick up your knife and start again. On this head, I started with light brown and used dark brown as my second color. The rubber cement allows some color to go through it, which keeps the head from being overly contrasted between light and dark colors. OR, it makes the lighter brown turn darker, even when you don’t tear through it. This way, it looks a little more natural.

I know this tutorial has been a little vaguer than my usual step by step articles. The fact is, after looking at a number of other articles, it still took me hours of experimentation and failure (first stage, first head) to find out the best way for me. If you have a broken head around, I suggest using pieces of that as test runs. Just chop it up with some limb cutter things, and you can use smaller pieces to test colors and methods before sacrificing a brand new white head.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them on here. I’ll do my best to get back to everyone.

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  1. Lucas Roche on November 9, 2011 at 1:22 am

    the darker one looks a lot better

  2. Weston Polivka on September 14, 2011 at 1:05 am

    great tutorial!

  3. Weston Polivka on September 14, 2011 at 1:05 am

    great tutorial!

  4. Max Seibald’s Wild Wild West Dye Job on June 9, 2011 at 9:31 am

    […] The head features Seibald’s name, number 42, and the Outlaws’ logo. The dye resembles a wood grain finish and was even categorized as graffiti by […]

  5. Sir laxalot on May 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    how long should i use a hair dryer on the electrical tape?

  6. Sir laxalot on May 23, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Thanks. Your dye will be really cool but i don’t think I could do it. Do you know any other cool dye jobs i could do that are relatively simple because I have one more head I want to dye.

  7. Max McCool on May 23, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I got your camo pattern confused. This is what I will be going for, just with shades of red. Your dye job can be pulled off with electrical tape. Dye your head red, then cut random shaped stripes of tape and put them around your head. Then go black.

  8. Sir laxalot on May 23, 2010 at 10:17 am
  9. Sir laxalot on May 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    do you think i could dye my head red tiger by first dying my head red. then taking pieces of electric tape and cutting them in the shape of the red in this picture
    Then dying the head black with the tape on it? Also thanks for all of you help answering my previous questions.

  10. Max McCool on May 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Start by trying to find sheet vinyl that works in boiling water. Until then, my tutorial won’t do much for you. I got my stickers cut at a print shop, and can’t get more of the vinyl I have.

  11. Sir laxalot on May 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

    when will you have the red tiger project ready because i got a new head and am thinking about dying it soon?

  12. Max McCool on May 19, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Jack- Yes, yes I can. That is my next project.

  13. Max McCool on May 18, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Yes you can dye a factory blue head into black. Your water has to be as hot as you can POSSIBLY GET IT!

  14. Sir laxalot on May 18, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I meant factory dyed blue

  15. Jack on May 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    could you do a tutorial on how to dye a head red tiger camo (from call of duty) i think it would look realy cool.

    thanks alot

  16. Max McCool on May 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    jim – when I would pull the knife through the rubber cement, sometimes it would bunch up, and I would begin to pull chunks at a time together, ripping big holes instead of linear looking tears. The big holes are what I tried to avoid, going instead for the lines of thinner rips.

    Sir laxalot – you could, but why would you even dye it if it’s already black? (Are you asking whether or not you can dye a head if it came factory black? If so, the answer is no.)

  17. Sir laxalot on May 17, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Can you dye a head black if it is already factory dyed black?

  18. jim on May 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    thanks. by the way what did you mean “Small tears in the rubber cement are OK. It will catch on the tip of you blade and start to rip, but just pick up your knife and start again.” I thought that you were suppose to tear the rubber cement with the knife

  19. Max McCool on May 17, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Yep, I ran the whole thing under cold water to rinse it, and then just peeled it all off. Some was harder to get off due to the inside corners of the stick, but you can just use tweezers or an Xacto to scrape it off.

  20. jim on May 17, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Do you just peel off the rubber cement after you are done dying

  21. naplax31 on May 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    tht is really tight

  22. Max McCool on May 4, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Absolutely. Love me some Ledo’s.

  23. magic bird on May 4, 2010 at 9:59 am

    This wood grain would look awesome with a traditional pocket! How bout it, Max?!

  24. WP Maintainer on May 3, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Is that a Ledo’s pizza box I spy, Max?!

  25. Tolanator on May 3, 2010 at 7:45 am

    That is sickk

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