View Full Version : Ebonizing Wood

Tim Dorcas
03-14-2008, 9:35 AM
I made a concoction of vinegar and steel wool. It sat for two weeks and then I strained it and applied this solution to a walnut frame. While it certainly darkened the wood, after three applications it looks like it has gotten as dark as it is going to get.

Is there a limit to how much this solution can ebonize wood?

Should I been switching over to black stain?

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks.


Eric DeSilva
03-14-2008, 9:44 AM
I saw a D. Marks episode where he recommended metal acid dyes for ebonizing. If you want to go that route, look for "transtint" dyes at your local WC or Rockler...

scott kinninger
03-14-2008, 9:58 AM
When you apply your topcoat the ebonizing treatment will get darker than it is right now, just try it out on some scrap wood and you'll see.

I've used the method you have but recently used india ink and I like that much better, I thought it produced a much darker black and the cost really isn't an issue, the ink costs less than $10 with some little bottles costing only $2 or $3.

Mike Wilkins
03-14-2008, 10:01 AM
It will get somewhat darker when a topcoat is applied.
The last black project I did was done using ink from one of the office supply stores. Small bottle goes a long way with a foam brush. Just be sure to cover your work surface and wear gloves (from experience).

Stuart Johnson
03-14-2008, 10:04 AM
Try wiping the piece down with a strong tea and let it dry then try again. This will increase the tannin required and might give you better results.

Chris Jenkins
03-14-2008, 1:32 PM
Tim - I'm no finisher, but after watching a DVD by Jeff Jewitt he mentioned that the vinegar/steel wool method works based on a reaction with Tannin in lumber. Certain species are known to have more Tannin than others. I know Oak has quite a bit and thus such a deep effect. I am not sure of Walnut. If it is low I would do the transtint.

I am currently doing some Ebonizing myself. I used Ash (cause I saw no need in taking expensive beautyful Walnut and making it black. By no means am I judging, to each their own). I bought black adaline dye from Lee Valley, which only turned it charcol grey. Then I got on Jeff Jewitt's site and he said that's part one. Then go over it with Miniwax Ebony oil based stain. That really did it. All Black, with all the grain. Pretty cool effect.

jason lambert
03-14-2008, 3:39 PM
My question is how would glue stick to it? Or are you doing it on your final project.

Eric Mims
03-14-2008, 5:14 PM
I've been meaning to try ebonizing with silver nitrate.. it's used in some forms of photography and I know for certain it turns anything organic dark, dark brown/black (including your fingers, takes a few weeks to shed it completely..the worst is getting it on your fingernails..they pretty much have to grow out). Silver nitrate simply mixed with distilled water. Maybe I'll go try.

Tim Dorcas
03-14-2008, 11:23 PM
My question is how would glue stick to it? Or are you doing it on your final project.

I am doing this to a finished project.