Ebonizing Wood?

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Forum topic by interpim posted 02-14-2009 01:57 AM 1700 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1170 posts in 3452 days

02-14-2009 01:57 AM

Well, my wife wants me to build a small table for a plant, but wants it to be black… I refuse to paint wood, so I was wondering if anyone has any tips on ebonizing wood? I most likely will use Oak, but could possibly use something else if you have a better recommendation.

-- San Diego, CA

11 replies so far

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1285 posts in 3730 days

#1 posted 02-14-2009 03:58 AM

walnut looks great ebonized. It is a dark wood which also helps. I’ll post a photo in the Projects section of a mantle I did some time ago. It is of maple and ebonized walnut.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View dan_fash's profile


62 posts in 3419 days

#2 posted 02-14-2009 10:52 AM

There was a posting here a few days ago abut using steel wool pads and mineral spirits I think. I haven’t tried it myself, but was really interested to try it when I read it. I think they called it steel buff.

Yep, here, look here—->>> steel buff

-- "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most logical explantion is that I was made for another world." -C.S. Lewis

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3761 days

#3 posted 02-14-2009 03:37 PM

You may consider aniline dyes as well.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


416 posts in 3426 days

#4 posted 02-14-2009 04:09 PM

There was an article in Popular WW or something it is around here someplace. I’ll PM when I find it.

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3706 days

#5 posted 02-14-2009 06:24 PM

With oak, due to the high tannin content, you can go with a rusty vinegar. Just take some very rusty metal, stick it in a container with some vinegar (some people swear by cider vinegar, but I don’t think it matters), and let it sit for a few days. Make sure pressure can escape the mixture as gas is a byproduct of the reaction! After awhile, you can just paint it on the oak, and it will pretty much instantly turn an amazing color.
try here: (this guy uses a bit more, gets GREAT color)
Allison here on LJ has a blog about it
or here

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4093 days

#6 posted 02-14-2009 06:33 PM

I would just go straight to using dye but do not thin it much. I use Sherwin Williams dye because it is $90 per quart instead of $18 for 2 oz.

Dye the wood and then put dye in the finish to get the black that you want. The wood tone will come through a little on dye alone.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4057 days

#7 posted 02-14-2009 09:31 PM

I’ve had good results with ML Campbell Woodsong Microton NGR spray – on-line price 55 bucks a gallon. Sold where ever MagnaMax sprays are sold. It can also be added to lacquer, pre-cat and shellac.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3389 days

#8 posted 02-14-2009 09:48 PM

Believe it or not, I’ve had good success with RIT dye! It’s cheap, effective and doesn’t seem to fade.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3761 days

#9 posted 02-15-2009 01:36 AM

Leather dyes work well also.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3452 days

#10 posted 02-15-2009 09:35 PM

you think this will work?

-- San Diego, CA

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3667 days

#11 posted 02-15-2009 10:12 PM

The vinegar thing works well with Walnut too, makes it about jet black.

I saw a good project that used speedball like you posted. Depending on the desired outcome a really light sanding with very fine paper can be used to good effect to help reveal the wood grain, but keep everything nice and black.

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