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Thread: How do I stain Oak black?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Toronto Ontario
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    How do I stain Oak black?

    Hi, my daughter is just completing her desk, made from flat sawn red oak.

    She wants a black finish like IKEA, black colour, red oak grain pattern.

    Should she dye the wood black?

    Using a black oil based stain wasn't dark enough for her, and had too much colour variation.

    Thanks in advance, Rod.

  2. #2
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    May 2009
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    N.W. Missouri
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    I have read about using India ink, but have not tried it.

    John

  3. #3
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    Jun 2004
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    Burlington, NC
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    I use a good bit of black dye. Actually the best I've found is an alcohol based leather dye. I buy it by the gallon. For smaller needs I used to just buy shoe sole dye in the supermarket isle. The brand I used was Griffin. Tight grain woods dye the best, but open grain woods like Oak also have a good look. I know a lot of folks say India ink, and it may be better than the dye, but I am very satisfied with the results I get.

    Perry

  4. #4
    Charles Neil has a video in which he does ebonization with India ink. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxQ4sBPoqEk. There is also a method to ebonize red oak with steel wool. A search on google will find a number of how to's on the subject. Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2009
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    I have used India ink. Works great on oak. I bought it at an art store, they also sell it at most craft stores.

  6. #6
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    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...23#post1500923

    article on SMC here that I bookmarked talking about ebonizing oak using tannin and steel wool. The look seems to be the best I've seen for getting that black look but retaining the grain and not looking painted.
    Thread on "How do I pickup/move XXX Saw?" http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?p=597898

    Compilation of "Which Band Saw to buy?" threads http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...028#post692028

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Dallas, Tx.
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    To match a Pioneer television with an upper cabinet, I painted the oak with black lacquer and finished it off with a low luster clear lacquer. Matched perfectlly and without the mess of dying or staining. I doubt Ikea ebonizes anything.
    Phil in Big D
    The only difference between a taxidermist and the taxman, is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. Mark Twain

  8. #8
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    Feb 2003
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    I'm with Phil on this one. shoot it with black lacquer. If you don't want too much build just thin the lacquer.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  9. #9

    Dye or mordant?

    I've used water based aniline dyes and the iron in vinegar trick to do this on red and white oak. The aniline dye is your safest bet but the chemical mordant route is kinda fun and makes you feel like an alchemist or some other black artist. You have to get enough iron in the mix to get it really black, the dye is easier to get to pitch black.

    Given that the piece is a desk I'd be careful of going the black lacquer route unless you're certain that your topcoat can handle the wear and tear that the work surface is bound to get. Otherwise you'll wear through the colour and that looks pretty awful pretty quickly.

    LV has the black aniline as you likely know. The black oak is a nice look, good luck.

  10. #10
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    Sep 2007
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    Tallahassee, FL
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    Black lacquer is a good route. I've done that with good effects. Black dye, like Transtint is another way to go.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Woodstock, VA
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    I've used india ink in the past with good results...it's easy, very dark. I used an oil varnish over it. But I'd love to try an aniline dye. I wonder which method penetrates deepest into the wood? Oh, and I used a cheap sponge applicator with the india ink.

  12. #12
    Since this is red oak, with a highly prominent grain, without any tendency to blotch, and black, there's no reason not to use a regular "ebony" or "charcoal" bigbox pigment stain here. It's easy to apply, no mixing, and no special equipment.

    If you wish to experiment with the steel wool, just fill a mayonnaise jar with vinegar and drop in a roll of steel wool (the proportions are not critical). Wait 3 days, strain, and sponge it on. Let it dry (it'll lighten like dyes do), then wipe with ms or naphtha to get an idea what it'll look like topcoated. Repeat the application a couple times until the results are what you want. Oak will take this very well, and will turn jet black and fairly evenly. It also won't interfere with yr topcoat if you're brushing. The only issue is it stinks for a while after, so let it dry for a few days before topcoating.

  13. #13
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    The article references using quebracho bark extract to intensify the black achieved with the steel wool. Other than buying a pound of the stuff on Amazon for $100, has anyone found any decent on line alternatives? That seems like a lot, considering the instructions call for using a tablespoon at a time. I'd like to try this, but I've checked a bunch of taxidermy places and have come up empty... Is it potentially marketed under some other name or through some other source?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    Southport, NC
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    A frequently used process is to color the wood in two steps. First is to use a water or alcohol soluable ebony dye stain. Once this has dried completely, follow with an ebony oil based pigment stain. This will give you a totally black finish but still leave the impression of the wood's grain.

    As always, test out the process on an scrap wood from your project. Never attempt a new finish without testing the whole finishing schedule first. This allows you to learn how it works and lets you see if it results in what you want. No tears.
    Last edited by Howard Acheson; 01-07-2011 at 11:33 AM.
    Howie.........

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    Since this is red oak, with a highly prominent grain, without any tendency to blotch, and black, there's no reason not to use a regular "ebony" or "charcoal" bigbox pigment stain here. It's easy to apply, no mixing, and no special equipment.

    If you wish to experiment with the steel wool, just fill a mayonnaise jar with vinegar and drop in a roll of steel wool (the proportions are not critical). Wait 3 days, strain, and sponge it on. Let it dry (it'll lighten like dyes do), then wipe with ms or naphtha to get an idea what it'll look like topcoated. Repeat the application a couple times until the results are what you want. Oak will take this very well, and will turn jet black and fairly evenly. It also won't interfere with yr topcoat if you're brushing. The only issue is it stinks for a while after, so let it dry for a few days before topcoating.
    This was what I was going to suggest. Try it on some scrap and see if you get the look you want.

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