Ebonizing wood #2: Ironing

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Blog entry by Dominik Matus posted 05-17-2013 04:26 PM 1957 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: carbonisation Part 2 of Ebonizing wood series no next part

This method is based on reaction between tanins and iron ionts. I used walnut wood, iron wool, dust and vinegar at the beginning. After some time I added ferrous sulfate. I found that slow reaction of wood only with iron is the best, but it take a long time. Soaking wood in broth of tea or iron galls and after in ferrous sulfate is quick, but shade of black is little blue. Heartwood is very black, but bad for penetration (sometimes it’s blackened only at the surface). Sapwood is colored trough very soon, but not black enough.

These are photos. It took circa 3 months to blacken trough material (3-6 mm).

It’s important to wash out remains of acid ionts.

Really black trough.

This wood used in intarsia autoportret (without finishing). Some part are not black enough because I pulled it out too soon.

-- Cabinetmaker, restorer

3 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


7966 posts in 2765 days

#1 posted 05-17-2013 05:18 PM

This one, I’ve experimented with as well. It works well but as you say it is very slow if you want good penetration.

Good likeness of you.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View ScaleShipWright's profile


253 posts in 1852 days

#2 posted 05-17-2013 07:16 PM

Has anybody tried adding green walnut nuts (before they get ripe) to the recipe? I am curious because I have heard that they are rich of tannin. The liquor made with green nuts, sugar and alcohol is very dark brown.

-- God exists... But relax, He's not you!

View Dominik Matus's profile

Dominik Matus

104 posts in 1876 days

#3 posted 05-21-2013 06:09 PM

I do not tried it, but it is full of tanins too. You can read more in articles about Iron gall ink.

-- Cabinetmaker, restorer

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