I'm making a watch box that I will dye black with Tranfast wood dye. I'd like to follow up with clear glossy polyurethane. However, I don't know how to protect this finish because the dye's label warns of fading in UV light.

Does the UV light from fluorescent bulbs degrade dyes? If so, will annual polyurethane coatings protect against this damage, or do I need something stronger?

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    Welcome to WSE. I have used Tranfast dyes on a number of furniture projects going back ten years. Some are exposed to direct sunlight for an couple hours daily and I have never noticed any significant fading. On a small project any UV exposure should be fairly even and not a problem (IMO). BTW i recommend using the dye with denatured alcohol rather than water to avoid raising the grain. Practice on scrap before applying it to your project.
    – Ashlar
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 1:40
  • @Ashlar Yeah, I just realized CFL's have a UV-protection coating built inside the bulb, so I'm worrying too much...I will switch to alcohol then!
    – techSultan
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 1:48
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    @Ashlar Any harm in using vodka instead of denatured alcohol? The box I'm finishing is Soviet-themed (a gift for a friend studying Russian history), so I think he'd get a kick out of the backstory. Also, I'd get a kick while finishing :)
    – techSultan
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 1:51
  • Apart from the relative lack of UV to really be worried about black is one of the dye colours least subject to fading. But if you wanted to avoid the issue entirely there are other ways of ebonising wood, one of the best of which is just using Indian ink.
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 11:25
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    @techSultan First, vodka may leave some residue while evaporating so I would test a sample first. Also it does seem to be a waste of good spirits. You could tell the friend that the craftsman consumed vodka during the application of the finish!
    – Ashlar
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


I don't need to worry about interior UV damage.

Soon after posting this question, I realized that CFL's have a coating inside the bulb that filters out the UV light produced from the argon/mercury energization. Plus, user Ashlar noted that none of his dyed furniture has significantly faded after hours in direct sunlight.

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