Brewing Up an Ebonizing Dye Stain

Iron steeped in vinegar makes an interesting stain for darkening wood. February 14, 2006

Question
Does anyone have knowledge of a wood stain called "Old Growth"? I was wondering what the contents were that make up its unique colors? Is it possible to create an array of colors just by adjusting pH levels of product?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
A dye stain can be produced by adding steel wool pads, some old rusty nails and screws into a jar of vinegar, and allowing it to ferment. Depending on the brew that you make up and the woods you use this acid dye on, you can get many different colors. For example: woods with high tannin content will give you all kinds of grays - from barnyard gray to ebony black. On some woods with lower tannin, you can get many colors of yellow and even a caramel color. You will need to make up complete samples, and spend some time learning about this acid dye. It certainly has a place in finishing, if youíre into that kind of finishing.



From contributor A:
The attached photo shows some of colors you can brew to ebonize certain woods with the vinegar dye stains, from the light silver gray to ebony black.


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From contributor A:
I personally would not use lye on my woods. Itís a powerful chemical that can affect certain woods in different ways. Ammonia fuming is another way of coloring the woods. Both of these coloring techniques take knowledge, and trial and error testing, plus samples. I would suggest you do some research before getting involved with potent chemicals. Patinated finishes also uses different chemicals to produce assorted colors that make up some beautiful finishes. I prefer to do my finishes with colorants rather than chemicals, but that doesn't mean that my way is the right or the best way. Itís personal.

Attached is a photo of a faux patinated finish that I did for an article that will appear in *Custom Woodworking Business* in 2006. This Tall Box was done with only colorants.


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From contributor A:
This photo shows a very dark ebonized finish, on Oak.


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