A while back, I put together a set of links of random finishing topics which I posted in my blog, called Finishing Tips #5: Finishing tips #5.
One of the links listed coved the topic of Chemical-Ebonizing as I saw an interest from some concerning the procedure, so this is the time to single out that process. This process does not use dye, ink or paint, and can be carried out quite easily.
As a matter of formality follow proper safety precautions such as wearing safety glasses, hand protection; well you know the drill when handling chemicals.
Paraphrasing the process from the article, the technique leaves an absolutely transparent layer of black where you can still see the wood’s figure and character, particularly after you apply a topcoat.
The first step is to dissolve de-oiled steel wool in Heinz white vinegar (6 percent acetic acid or better) to make the first of two solutions you’ll need. Use a glass jar and allow the mixture to set for about a week where eventually, the pad will dissolve and the formerly clear liquid will turn a dark reddish brown, with a black scum on top.
The second solution, tannic acid, is made with dry powdered tannin and again I suggest you use a glass container.
The full instructions and suggest sources are listed in the ARTICLE which I suggest you read as I am leaving out the full explanation.
Once you have you have the two mixtures read to go, before applying either solution, because you won’t be able to sand the wood during the ebonizing process. After the wood dries, sand off any fuzz you may feel with 280 or 320 grit paper. The writer of the original article does this process a couple of times.
Now it is time for the magic to happen. Pour a small amount of the tannic acid solution into a shallow container and brush it on your project. Make sure every bit of the surface is covered. Let the wood dry.
Next, pour a small amount of the steel wool and vinegar solution into a separate container. Using a different brush, apply the solution to the wood where almost immediately, the wood will turn a bluish black. Again, let the wood dry.
Finally, apply another coat of tannic acid, using a cotton rag to avoid brush marks and you will get a rich, deep black. Let the wood dry a day or two and you will be ready to apply a clear finish.
The link to the article is listed below.
-- Respectfully, Paul