Making black walnut blacker

Suggestions on materials to use for staining walnut an ebony color. March 4, 2002

I am trying to stain black walnut to a consistent black/ebony. I tried the darkest stain I could find at Home Depot and all I got was an inconsistent dark brown color. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
From contributor D:
Dick Blick Waterbased India Ink. Not that expensive and the darkest black this side of Midnight. You can also try a black dye - this will work for your purpose much better than any wiping stain.

You could also look for a 'black' gelled stain. Brush it on and work it in. Do not wipe it off. That may give you a black that you like.

Mohawk black stain, seal, sand and shade with black stain mixed with thinner 1:1, then topcoat.

Some of the ideas here are more professional than others. In production, dyes are used mostly and also some inks. Watch shading with stains as you could have problems with the topcoat sticking if the shading stain is too heavy.

Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor

Fuhr has a water based ebony dye stain that does a good job. You can get as dark a shade of black as you want but still retain transparency. Practice on scrap pieces to get a feel for building the depth of color.

Are you putting a finish over this or are you going for an oiled look?

From the original questioner:
I intend to put a clear satin/semi-gloss finish over the top depending on how the colored piece looks. I just got some "charcoal black" dye and tried it on some scraps. Looks pretty good but some of the real light spots didn't darken down all the way. The dry time is 48 hours, so once it is dry I'm going to try a second application on the light spots. According to the directions for this dye, I can finish over the top as well. If this dye doesn't provide the desired result I am going to try India Ink.

From contributor D:
India ink is my final answer. The stuff is rather unique as the lampblack used to produce it is the finest pigment there is. It maintains transparency without giving you the painted look but it is the blackest black going.

From the original questioner:
Do you basically wipe/brush it on, wipe off the excess and let dry? Then do you come back over with a clear topcoat? Sounds interesting to try and the price is right.

From contributor D:
It applies by any method (handles just like most other coatings) but a foam brush works well. Just brush on a nice thin coat, let it dry (overnight), and put anything you want as a clear topcoat over it. Try it, you'll like it. It's the best way to ebonize that there is.

From the original questioner:
I tried some out on some scrap pieces today and after two thin coats it's exactly what I was after.