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Finishing Techniques. Old School vs New School

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Forum topic by Rob posted 03-28-2014 11:53 AM 1039 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rob

65 posts in 306 days


03-28-2014 11:53 AM

Topic tags/keywords: humor resource tip question trick alder bubinga cocobolo oak purpleheart wenge ash cedar mahogany padauk teak willow basswood cherry maple pine walnut zebrawood bandsaw carving tool drill-driver lathe planer scroll saw biscuit joiner chisel drill press miter saw router spray gun finishing refurbishing sanding woodburning modern traditional greene and greene shaker arts and crafts rustic victorian

I have been experimenting with different finishing techniques for the last couple of weeks now and have self taught myself a lot. Really I have just been playing with fire and chemicals in the garage like a 12 year old, but that is besides the point. I am by no means a master finisher or even skilled really on the journeyman level, but I can hold my own. For years I was a sheep in the heard of big box hardware store shoppers, and when it came to finishes Rustoleum/Miniwax/Whoever is on the shelf Stains and Polyurethanes were all I knew. I was in the painters union for years right out of highschool, but commercial and/or industrial work rarely ever called for “specialty” finishes (at least what any one of us on this site would consider specialty). It was mostly spraying ceilings with Dryfall, sealing bare block with Blockfill, and cutting and rolling everything form colleges like Rutgers and Princeton to the local Best Buy and Wegmans. You get the point. So while I am familiar with how to apply techniques for desired effect, I am still new to these “old school” techniques that I have been trying out. Just to name a few things I am interested in are listed below and am interested in learning as much as possible about them. So if anyone has experience with any of these and has some good advice they wouldn’t mind sharing, please feel free. It would be greatly appreciated. I’ll start with the most interesting of the bunch (in my opinion)

- Shou Sugi Ban
I had a blow torch, a pile of scrap wood, and 3 DogfishHead 90 minute IPAs in me. Something was getting lit on fire. I had some pine I started with. I lit the torch and made a few light passes over the 1×3 and liked the caramel color it was creating. So naturally I kept going. I stopped when the wood was completely blackened and charred. I grabbed a piece of 180 grit and sanged off all the ash and soot, and revealed a very interesting surfae underneath. It was a nice dark chocolate brown, but when I applied a clear coat of varnish it just turned black. I tried this method in probably 20 diffrerent sequences changing everything from type of wood, different grits, and different finishes. Then I found the best method that produced the most desireable effect was this; Burn the wood to a crisp. Then brush off the ash. then apply a finish. Here the results.

I thought I reinvented the wheel. I thought I was a genius. I thought I was a great inventor of a new way of finishing. And then I went on google…And google said I’m dumb. haha…This method has been being used for hundreds of years in Japan. They build houses, fences and even an entire stadium in Germany using fire treated wood. It makes the wood rot resistant, flame retardent, and insect repellant. But hey, I now have another unique and awesome way of finishing to add to my arsenal.

- Ebonizing
I often heard and read many different methods to do this, but I have yet to find one I really like. In short, I now have some steel wool sitting in vinegar. I have read that you should let it sit for 24 hours, and then from other sources let it sit for a week. Also, Idk if I should use tea bags like some have suggested in their writings. Does anyone have any advice on this method? What is the proper technique for ebonizing wood? And will this “chemical reaction” method produce better results than if I were to just make my own black dyes?

Also I what are some of the dyes that you use? Do you have any favorites or old reliables that you cannot go without? Powder or liquid? Alcohol or water?
Thanks guys,
Rob

-- Rob, Middletown NJ


14 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1479 posts in 1109 days


#1 posted 03-28-2014 12:30 PM

First, make something worth finishing.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View surayabay's profile

surayabay

3 posts in 275 days


#2 posted 03-28-2014 02:25 PM

Q: Need a little help folks. Should I seal the live edge bark before I sand the top finished surface of a burl? I’ve never done live edge before and afraid if I start sanding first, the live edge might start falling off from the sanding vibrations. And what is the best way to keep the live edge intact, just seal it with ploy? Oil based or water? Would someone walk me through the correct steps, I would like to use old school methods for authenticity and craftsman-ship results, that’s what my Dad would have done. Thanks.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

4489 posts in 1128 days


#3 posted 03-28-2014 04:13 PM

The few times I ebonized wood, I just spritzed on black dye. Quick, easy, effective.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View surayabay's profile

surayabay

3 posts in 275 days


#4 posted 03-28-2014 04:24 PM

For some strange reason, I have always admired the beauty of burnt and blackened logs, or lumber and thought it would make an excellent and unique material and useful project. You know, like “an out of the ashes” kind of thing!
But the stuff is so sooty you can’t touch it. Is there a technique you can use, just spray or brush the burnt, charred wood with shellac or poly to preserve it and then make a work of art from it?

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3868 posts in 2115 days


#5 posted 03-28-2014 09:32 PM

For ebonizing I use India ink on small pieces!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

1053 posts in 683 days


#6 posted 03-28-2014 09:56 PM

I have always heard that dye is the way to go for ebonizing. I don’t think anything else is as effective as dye.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 306 days


#7 posted 03-29-2014 05:34 AM

Clint I have two seperate projects sitting in the bullpen waiting for finish. Hence the reason I’m experimenting with finishes in the first place.Was looking for something unique. But thank u for that invaluable gem of advise.

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

View Loren's profile

Loren

7822 posts in 2396 days


#8 posted 03-29-2014 05:53 AM

You can make ebonizing solution by putting nails
in water as I recall. I’ve used black dye, but nails
are cheaper.

Recently I’ve been staining with roofing repair
tar thinned to a liquid with mineral spirits. Very
dark and easy to work with, plus super cheap.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View OldWrangler's profile

OldWrangler

719 posts in 342 days


#9 posted 03-29-2014 07:29 AM

I have used a Milk Wash dye to finish some project that suffer from a color deficiency. I thin real good, like 40-60% and brush on. Let it soak in a little and wipe off. Adds just enough color to make an item come to life. My favorites are turquoise, pale blue and golden yellow. Home Depot will mix up any color you want, just pick one out from the color chart. This is not paint or stain but a subtle color wash that is almost unnoticeable. Reclaimed lumber is an especially good candidate as is something like Beetle Kill Pine. And y’all know the trick about soaking Wenge in Clorox to make the grain turn from uniform brown to black and whites. And there are other woods that change dramatically when washed with Hydrogen Peroxide or vinegar. Experiment…..

-- I am going to go stand outside so if anyone asks about me, tell them I'M OUTSTANDING!

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 306 days


#10 posted 04-01-2014 11:44 AM

Surayabay, yes actually, after using the burning method I described above I applied a Hand rubbed poly with a satin finish. 2 coats. And it seals it completely. No soot or ash AT ALL. Just make sure you brush the wood thoroughly. Don’t use sandpaper or cloth. It just smudges the soot deep into the grain and u lose the effect. Use a dustpan brush but just know it should be designated for that only after, as u will have soot all over it (unless u really feel like cleaning it every time).

And as far as the ebonizing, I let some 0000 steel wool sit in vinegar for about 5 days now, and I gave it a good few stirs last night and applied it to a test piece of Walnut, and then on Oak. Results were great. The Walnut gets almost black but it looks so natural bc you see every little grain fiber still, where as I lost it when using the dye to try and obtain this effect. I’m going to let it sit another 2 days. 7 days seems to be the average reccommended time to let soak before full strength. I will post the results for u guys tonight when home from work. I’m going to actually make a 5 gallon bucket of this solution, as I nderstand it keeps for years, and I have A LOT of projects being finished. I don’t get a chance to get on here as often as I like, but I will def be posting all of them as they come flying out. I’m currently working on a huge solid walnut low profile, modern design coffee table with two matchhing end tables,...Also another Asian inspired coffee table design out of solid Sapele with two matching end tables. All being worked on in unison, so my little shop is all hustle every single day. Riding till the wheels fall off…I’ll post everyhting as they come out

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 306 days


#11 posted 04-01-2014 11:47 AM

Wrangler I never heard of the clorox and wange. I will def be trying that soon….maybe I will light it on fire after to see what happens. haha, this is turning into a bad little dangerous habit.

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

View mrjinx007's profile

mrjinx007

1828 posts in 515 days


#12 posted 04-01-2014 11:49 AM

In the past I have burned some pine, crushed the charcoal into powder and rubbed it with a rag on wood and finished it with varnish. It made a really nice looking bar.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View Rob's profile

Rob

65 posts in 306 days


#13 posted 04-01-2014 12:01 PM

Really Jinx? That sounds like something I wanna try… So you burned the wood to crisp, then used the ash as a stain, or dye pretty much it sounds like…I really like the look that coloring wood natually seems to produce over the typical bix box store stains, or even dyes for that matter. I’ve been comparing my methods with the stains and dyes…ebonizing via steel/vinegar vs ebony stain vs black dye and the wood burning/scrubbing vs all the same, and the natural ways just seem so much more deeper and nicer lookin. It may also just be a matter of personal preference, I really don’t like the look of ANYTHING that when finished is light or pale wood. I know a lot of people do I’m just not one of them. That’s why my favorite wood to work with is walnut and sapele. I like dark deep rich colors. Maybe I’m just moody, who knows. But I am going to produce some patio furniture this spring for my bacjyard and I’m seriously considering doing it all using the japanese burning method, so we will see how it goes. It’ll either be a really expensive lesson on why NOT to do it, or WHY TO do it.

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

View mrjinx007's profile

mrjinx007

1828 posts in 515 days


#14 posted 04-01-2014 01:15 PM

When you burn the wood, the “summer rings” or the soft wood burns more than the hard rings, thus you end up with ridges on the surface; especially in pine and oak. I didn’t use the ash, just the charcoals. You can use a rag to make it as dark as you like. The first brushing of poly or whatever you use will take some of the darkness out of it. If you want a deepest dark, wet the rag and apply the charcoal, let it dry, lightly sand any raised grain, then rub some more (this time dry) and apply your finish. Try it on a scrap first. Love to see the result.

-- earthartandfoods.com

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