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  • Ebonizing Wood

    Hi All,
    I wanted to ebonize a couple pieces of Walnut for a project that I'm working on. I've read in many places that putting a piece of steel wool in vinegar for 24 hours will give you an ebonizing solution. I did that, and after 24 hours the vinegar is still clear???
    Any ideas? I would really like to avoid painting if I can.
    Thanks in advance,

    Kevin
    Kevin
    Scrollsaw Patterns Online
    Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671

  • #2
    We've got an article on that coming up in the next issue, but that won't help you know <Grin>

    From what Mac Simmons says in the article, steel wool has a coat of oil over it that takes a little time to dissolve. The reaction doesn't occur until that oil is gone...he also suggest putting a couple old screws and some old nails in the mixture and "shredding" the steel wool...

    Hope it helps!

    Bob
    www.GrobetUSA.com

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    • #3
      yes, and the mixture may stay fairly clear, dont let that discourage you. I know that doing that on red oak is simply amazing. If I get time tonight Ill post a picture of a red oak labrador that I turned into a black lab by ebonizing. Dale
      Dale w/ yella saws

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      • #4
        Dale.....I found that out tonight (that it stays relatively clear)!
        I used it on some Walnut and it worked exactly as I had hoped. I'll be posting a pic later in the week of what I needed it for.
        Thanks for the help guys.

        Kevin
        Kevin
        Scrollsaw Patterns Online
        Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671

        Comment


        • #5
          its like watching a magic trick isnt it? Another wonderful wonders of wood! Im glad it worked out for ya! Dale
          Dale w/ yella saws

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          • #6
            Hi Kevin,

            I'm really curious about the process, how good does it work? how dark does the wood get? how did you proceed? Does it stink? does the wood smell after?

            Hope you took before and after pictures so you can report on it.

            Very curious,
            Marcel
            http://marleb.com
            DW788. -Have fun in the shop or it isn't a hobby anymore.

            NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

            Comment


            • #7
              You judge for yourself , Ill try posting a picture of a black lab clock. The dog was cut with the saw table tilted a few degrees so the dog protrudes. The dog is the piece of red oak that was in that spot, just ebonized. As you will see, hes not a chocolate lab, but in fact a black lab.
              Ok, a hunk of steel woll in a jar of white vinegar, left sitting for a couple days. Once the wood was cut and ready, i just slobbered on the vinegar. No real technique to it, just covered the wood good. The tiny parts like dog feet print pieces were just plopped in the jar and left a minute or so while I watched in amazement as the wood magically darkened. I then let it dry good, and no, it didnt really smell that much, certainly less then a coat of poly would smell.It works diffrent on diffrent woods, depending on the tannin in the wood itself. I hope Mac finds time to post a few lines in here, he is an expert. Dale ill post in gallery, sorry, im too dumb to figure out how to post it here. Im sure theres a simple way, maybe Bob D can slide the photo over into here from the gallery in the morning.
              Last edited by lucky788scroller; 04-24-2006, 09:56 PM.
              Dale w/ yella saws

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              • #8
                Ebonizing

                In regard to making up an 'ebony' dye stain, let me note, that not all steel wool has oil to protect it from rusting, I only mentioned that, to let the readers know that the oil will retard the process. To speed up the process, you can add two or three steel wool pads into the vinegar, plus some old rusty nails and screws.

                It may only take several hours to get some color, its important to keep dye stain throughly mixed in the solution, so you will always get consistant color on the wood.

                All woods are not the same, the more tannin in the wood the better this technique will darken the woods. This technique will also work on woods with little tanning and give you shades of yellow. I suggest, that you always make up a complete sample on the same wood as you will be using for your project, so you see the final finish.

                Always, make up more 'dye' then you will need, and keep a formulary of whatever you use to make up the ebony dye stain for your future work.

                MacS

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                • #9
                  lucky788scroller,

                  That lab is nice and dark!

                  I did not think it would make that big a difference, I'm agreeably surprised.

                  One last question (as if) how long does the magic potion keep in a sealed jar?



                  Thanks,
                  Marcel
                  http://marleb.com
                  DW788. -Have fun in the shop or it isn't a hobby anymore.

                  NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As far as I know, the magic potion lasts indefinatly. I have had a jar of it on the shelf for a year already and still works. dale
                    Dale w/ yella saws

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                    • #11
                      I've never heard of this technique before. It's intriguing.

                      I would have thought that wood immersed in the ebonising solution for any length of time would warp. Yet it doesn't? Or don't you actually immerse it?

                      Gill
                      There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
                      (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Gill, I just brushed it on. It worked great. Considering real Ebony is around $70 a bd. ft. this sure is a nice alternative.
                        The Swan was my first attempt at intarsia, the pic's not the best, but the nose, lower beak and eye are all ebonized Walnut. You can see the difference between it and the other pieces cut from the same board in the Swan's shadow.
                        Attached Files
                        Kevin
                        Scrollsaw Patterns Online
                        Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Has anyone tried this on other types of wood?
                          MinotBob
                          Makita MSJ-401
                          Universal Tools:
                          Remember you only really need 2 tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn't, use the Duct Tape

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                          • #14
                            It certainly works well on your swan, Kevin. In fact your swan looks absolutely superb and I'm pleased you've shown it to us.

                            I'm going to give this technique a try myself over the weekend - let's see how it works on ash.

                            Gill
                            There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
                            (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              it works best on woods with a high tanic acid content (Oak, cherry, maple)

                              I'm going to try it on a piece of baltic birch soon (to finish another project for the upcoming issue)

                              Bob
                              www.GrobetUSA.com

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