• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Ebonising Ash wood with vinegar / wire wool solution

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Kendle99

Established Member
Joined
9 Jul 2020
Messages
28
Reaction score
5
Location
Portishead
Does anybody know how many coats of vinegar / steel wool ebonising solution is needed , to get a black finish on Ash wood ?
 

MikeG.

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2008
Messages
10,158
Reaction score
666
Location
Essex/ Suffolk border
It won't work at all. Ash doesn't have the tannin levels necessary to produce the ebonising reaction. I'm afraid you are going to be staining it to turn it black.

There is a fussy work-around, which is to add tannin to the ash via tannic acid, but tannic acid isn't something commonly found at B&Q!
 

AJB Temple

Finely figured
Joined
13 Oct 2015
Messages
3,585
Reaction score
812
Location
Tunbridge Wells
It may be worth you telling us why you want to ebonize it. The reason I say this is that years ago people tried to do this with all sorts of wood that they were trying to make look like ebony or rosewood, when the top quality stuff got in short supply for guitar fingerboards. (You can always tell, instantly).

Oak galls etc all work, but frankly I would probably use powdered food safe vegetable dye (cheap as chips and you need tiny quantities - often sold for staining ponds black) and make my own colourant. Various recipes available.

(spell check here, which enforces site choices, 2 clicks to get out of, drives me crackers)
 
Last edited:

Inspector

Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck!
Joined
18 Jun 2006
Messages
2,512
Reaction score
654
Location
Saskatoon, SK., Canada
You can get it on Amazon for wine making. They add it to get the oaked barrel taste I think. If there are any make your own type wine stores in you country they will have it too. Cost something like 5 or 10 pounds or so for a pound of the powder. Dissolve it in water and wet the wood good and let it dry. A few coats and then do the same with your vinegar and steel wool solution and it should blacken the way you want. If you were using oak you wouldn't need the tannic acid unless there was sapwood. Play with scraps to get the process down before putting it on the furniture.

Pete
 

custard

Established Member
Joined
20 Aug 2008
Messages
7,116
Reaction score
535
Location
Hampshire
I've used iron staining on a few different timbers, both timbers rich in tannin like Oak, and timbers that are low in tannin. The bottom line is that tannins evaporate quite quickly from the sawn surface, so even on Oak, unless it's a virgin surface fresh from the tool, you'll need to prime the surface with tannin in order to prevent a patchy finish.

You'll get a perfectly good result from making a brew of strong tea, or boiling up fresh Oak shavings, but if you want the absolute deepest black then hunt out Oak Galls to crush up. Where I live in the New Forest it's easy enough to collect pocketfuls of them. I believe in medieval times Oak Galls were used to make ink.

Couple of other tips.

-Add a single drop of washing up liquid into both your tannin and your vinegar/steel wool solutions, you need this to break surface tension and get the solution deep into the pores of the timber, especially important on a very open grained timber like Ash.

-Decent quality, un-oiled, steel wool seems to be thin on the ground these days, so you might be better using a handful of rusty old nails in your white vinegar solution.

-Personally I apply a couple of coats of both solutions, it doesn't seem to matter in what order.

-If there's an interim reaction and it goes a sort of dark burgundy don't worry. As soon as the final oil or wax or varnish coat goes on it'll go jet black, indeed a good burnishing with a hard bristle brush (which you should do before the final finish coat) is often enough to take it black.

Here's a desk that I made, Bubinga slab top with scorched and iron stained legs, it really was as black as pitch,

Bubinga-Desk-3.jpg
 

Duncan A

Established Member
Joined
8 Nov 2007
Messages
630
Reaction score
65
Location
Northants
Brilliant write-up as usual from Custard - thank you.
...and a lovely table, love the clean lines.
Duncan
 

TheTiddles

Established Member
Joined
14 Oct 2007
Messages
2,686
Reaction score
607
Location
Wiltshire
Ebonising lacquer is sold, it’s basically black spray paint but on ash it leaves the grain open so you can gilt cream it for a fancy look, makes nice contrasting panels on a light wood box
Aidan
 
Top