Staining Walnut Black

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Blog entry by oakdust posted 06-09-2008 01:51 AM 4391 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I need to stain an old walnut desk black or as close it as I can get. (Customers choice) Anyone have any idea what stain and brand name would be a good one to use?

-- Bob, Rockford IL,

7 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3520 days

#1 posted 06-09-2008 02:05 AM

You might have to start with a black dye.

I like to use the Sherwin BAC Wiping Stain because they can be top coated in 30 minutes. (I am not a salesman for Sherwin, I just use their product all the time.)

If you do a black lacquer you will have to top coat it with a clear finish to get the “pop” out of the color. You can control the sheen as satin, semi-gloss, or gloss this way.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View gizmodyne's profile


1768 posts in 3510 days

#2 posted 06-09-2008 02:14 AM

I second the dye.

Here is another “link to info”

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14167 posts in 3403 days

#3 posted 06-09-2008 02:16 AM

Another thought is to soak steel wool in vinager for a couple weeks.

Few months back another jock listed a project where he ebonized walnut with that mixture.

Looked pretty cool.

Tred it myself on qtr sawn white oak and it work’d great. Also have heard of using India ink … never tried that though.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3520 days

#4 posted 06-09-2008 04:21 AM

I have read about Dan’s suggestion but have never done it. It did seem like a neat idea and I hope to do it in the future.

You have to realize that each method will produce a different type of black finish. You will have to chose the one that best fits the look for the style of the project.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View bbqking's profile


328 posts in 3144 days

#5 posted 06-09-2008 04:23 AM

I started a forum on this a while back. If you look at my projects it is included as Iron Buff. It will stain your walnut BLACK. Here it is:
1. Take a pad of steel wool & rinse it with lacquer thinner to remove the protective oil coating. Tear it into pieces.
2. Get a 1 pint glass jar and punch 2 holes in the lid with a nail. This will keep it from exploding.
3. Fill the jar with white vinegar and add the steel wool pieces. Let it sit for 7-10 days. The acid in the vinegar will dissolve the steel wool.
4. Strain the liquid through an old t-shirt and again through a coffee filter.
5. Brush it on your piece as you would any stain. This is a chemical reaction, however, and not a stain, so your finish will always be consistent, with no darker areas or brush marks. It will leave you with a darkly stained piece with a slightly raised grain, so don’t apply this till just before your final sanding, or you will sand through the stain. On walnut, however, you may not notice it.
6. Every batch of this will turn out a little different, so in staining a large piece like a desk, increase the proportions, i.e. 1 pad steel / 1 pint white vinegar to as much as you need so you get consistent staining across the piece.

I hope you try this method on your project at hand. It is not as much trouble as it sounds and delivers great results. Woodworkers used this method for centuries before they discovered MinWax & etc. It will take any additional stain or varnish no problem. Another thing, it smells like pickles till you varnish it.

As always, bbqKing

-- bbqKing, Lawrenceville

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 3261 days

#6 posted 06-10-2008 05:50 PM

that sounds interesting, I’ll have to try that myself. How long to you have to let it cure and what do you finish the piece with?

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View acanthuscarver's profile


268 posts in 3133 days

#7 posted 06-11-2008 01:25 PM

Your iron buff post was on oak. Walnut will work but it has a different tannin content. oakdust might need to wash the piece down with a tannic acid solution first to get the desired effect.

Experiment before you try it on the real piece. Chemical colorations are a lot harder to remove than analine dyes or stains.

-- Chuck Bender, 360 WoodWorking, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

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