Ebonizing Quarter Sawn White Oak

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Forum topic by Tanda4 posted 10-13-2016 01:43 PM 261 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 10 days

10-13-2016 01:43 PM

I’m looking to ebonize Quarter Sawn White Oak, but would like the rays to be a light gray. Before I go out and buy a bunch of stuff to test, is this relatively simple to achieve? Can you recommend a product and technique?

6 replies so far

View KYSean's profile


98 posts in 3016 days

#1 posted 10-13-2016 03:24 PM

Easy to do. A jar of white vinagar and put a steel wool pad in it. let it sit for 3 or 4 days. Wipe it on and let it dry. Add more coats to get desired level of darkness. Lightly steel wool down when you reached your desired level to knock down any raised grain and then apply finish.


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3969 posts in 1770 days

#2 posted 10-13-2016 03:30 PM

White oak is the easiest to ebonize in my experience. Just dissolve some steel wool in vinegar for a few days then filter it through a coffee filter or paint filter. Apply it to the oak with a foam brush. Experiment on scraps before committing to final finish schedule to get the look you want. One thing to consider is that the vinegar solution will raise the grain on the wood, leaving it rough. If you sand it back afterwards you lose a lot of the ebonizing, so it is best to raise the grain with water and sanding back prior to ebonizing.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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723 posts in 642 days

#3 posted 10-13-2016 03:44 PM

To keep the rays a lighter color, you will need to repeat the vinegar/wool application several times with sanding in-between coats.

The idea is the rays will absorb less dye than the wood. Sanding will basically remove the layer of the rays that did absorb the dye. The other wood will have absorbed the dye deeper into its fibers so the sanding will not remove as much of the color in these areas. The result, the rays are nearly back to their original color, the other areas are much darker. Repeating the process should intensify the contrast between the two areas, but with diminishing returns.

As mentioned, test out on scraps first!

View Cooler's profile


216 posts in 263 days

#4 posted 10-13-2016 04:53 PM

I think they use India ink for the jet black stuff. But the vinegar and steel wool is commonly used too; not as black and may be the preferred finish for this.

Here is a tutorial on that:

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

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7084 posts in 2217 days

#5 posted 10-14-2016 06:57 AM

The harder (winter) wood will ebonize less than the softer (summer) wood and will appear somewhat lighter. Also any sanding (or butt polishing in the case of a stool) will accent this difference. There is a real time video of the ebonizing process in this blog.

Is this the look you are wanting? (Garry Oak)

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

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2 posts in 10 days

#6 posted 10-15-2016 07:23 PM

Thanks so much for the answers.

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