A few months ago I had read an article about ebonizing wood with steel wool and vinegar. Awhile back I tried this and absolutely nothing happened. I never even tried again. Ebonizing is a stain of sorts I guess. I also have heard there are several ways of doing this. The reason the original article caught my eye was because I sure as hell don’t have the money to buy Ebony (wood), and I am forever wanting or needing dark/black wood for my projects and I do not like to use paint, to the point of not making something I want to make if I need paint. (This is just a personal preference). Stain in itself can be quite expensive at times. However I just so happen to always have steel wool around especially the 0000 kind, as I use it as my last sweep of sanding. I also am one of those thrifty homemakers that likes to make a lot of her own cleaning supplies, and almost all have vinegar as an ingrediant. Even in my town, I can still buy a big gallon jug of vinegar with 2 bucks and leave the store with change!
The article I have the link to above says this
The ebonizing solution is made with two common products: vinegar and steel wool. A plastic jar with a plastic lid is best to use because the lid won’t rust.
To make ebonizing solution put a coarse steel wool pad in the jar and pour in enough vinegar to cover it, loosely screw the lid on the jar. If the pad is not totally submersed rust will quickly form on the portion exposed to air. After about twenty-four hours pour the vinegar in another jar. Don’t squeeze the vinegar out of the pad or you may get bits of metal in the liquid, which will rust, then just brush the solution on the contoured project pieces you want ebonized.
A couple of days ago I ran into another article about how to do this , and I decided to give it another try. Come to find out the reason it did not work for me the first time was the steel wool I was trying to use was some generic crap that wasn’t completely steel wool. At the time I never really checked nor did I know that you can even buy steel wool that is not real steel wool. LOL!!!
The article I followed starting day before yesterday was slightly different. First of all it said to use nothing but a glass jar. Place your steel wool in it. Then cover with vinegar. (Again making sure that you do indeed completely cover the steel wool with the vinegar.) Then place your lid on it and make sure it is tight. (Not loose like the first article) and to keep it in there for 48 hours.After the 48 hours strain the liquid a couple of times thru a coffee filter and then apply.
Following is what I did this morning messing around and I was so impressed.
Above is a piece of 1/4 inch Birch plywood. This is with the first coat. I painted it on the wood with a brush for blush make-up.
(Sometimes a girls just gotto do what a girls gotto do) as this was all I had! LOL.
The dark side on the left is a second coat. the middle is what the wood looked like before I put this solution on . The right side is the same wood but the other side with just one coat.
Same piece just upside down. Now with 3 coats on the darker side and 2 on the other side.
Well now I am having too much fun. I love the way this is looking , so I gather up some funky odds and ends just to see what would happen.
On the left 1/2 inch toungue and groove pine from a drawer.The middle apiece of pine originally brought home for our wood stove.It is laying on corkboard flooring. And to the right is a 1 inch piece of Douglas Fir, that I only did half of.
This is a piece of the redwood that we just used to make our deck on our house. It has a couple of coats put on it.
I am truly thrilled that I gave this another try.(And used the right steel wool) LOL!
I have so many patterns where I need dark/black wood that I have not done. I now feel as if I can. All this was done today in a hurry.I was so excited by the outcome. I feel confident that I can ebonize wood for my intarsia pieces, yet I won’t feel as if I used paint. When I used the whole jar up of the stuff I made I came in here to write this. In doing so, I had forgotton about reading about how this can be deluted with water if you prefer a lighter dark.Of course I would not recommend doing this on a nice piece of furniture for color, but I think it is going to be perfect for my scroll work , and intarsia!
-- Allison, Northeastern Ca. Remember, Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic!