adventures in ebonizing

so my current project has a number of small details that call for ebonizing. the furniture is walnut. millwork to date has produced various scrap already dimensioned to some of the parameters of the details, so I figured I'd try ebonizing that.
I made a batch of vinegar-and-steel wool. I left the steel wool in the vinegar until it completely dissolved, then ran it through a coffee filter. tested a sample of walnut in it. it came out nice and black. a through cut reveals that the color doesn't penetrate far though. as an experiment I tried treating the wood with strong black tea first, then the vinegar/steel wool solution. it produced a slightly, but noticeably, darker color than the vinegar/ steel wool solution alone, so that was the process I chose. if I try ebonizing a light wood like maple or birch I'll play with even stronger tea solutions.
this project has ebonized details inlaid in a field of lightly tinted but otherwise unstained wood. I don't want to apply the tinted finish to the ebonized parts, so I'll be doing the inlay work between coats of finish. that is: spray sanding sealer > sand > spray tinted glaze coat till color is right > rout out space for and apply inlay > spray clear top coats till done.
I'm a bit nervous about tooling into the color coat- dings and scratches at this point will be painfully obvious and essentially nonrepairable, so I may get a clear coat down first.
the detail parts have swelled up with the moisture from the tea and vinegar/ steel wool solutions. if they don't return to size on their own I'll try a bit of heat to shrink them down.
any thoughts?
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Bridger wrote: snip>the detail parts have swelled up with the moisture from the tea and

Work at your leisure!
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On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 19:00:33 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote:

a question- anybody played with pulling a vacuum on the vinegar/ steel wool solution with the wood in it to get deeper penetration? it would certainly increase the dry time and probably increase the likelihood fo parts swelling/ warping to the point of unusability....
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You might want to add a drop or two of dish soap. Breaks the surface tension of the liquid and lets it flow into open grain woods
charlie b
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Use a "tea" made from one of the traditional tanbarks like oak, elm or hemlock for a higher tannin content. I imagine the process of penetration is self-limiting, in that the areas adsorbing the moisture expand, blocking the passage of further moisture.
Or - http://www.labdepotinc.com/chemical_details~pid~T1013.aspx
Try the India ink or Rit dye methods?

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I live in a desert. we don't have those here <G>. I'd have to go buy them.... from somewhere...
at the chinese grocery store I can buy black tea in bulk cheap.

sounds right. that's what I was after with the vacuum pump question. seems like it would probably work to pull a vacuum on the wood while it's in the solution to force it into the pores. suck the air out of the wood and allow the liquid to replace it....

not yet....
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A vacuum would be good for drying, but remember at the lumber yard 'Pressure treated' is the operative term. So first you want to obtain an old pressure cooker, adapt the spout in the top where the weight sets to an air fitting then connect your air compressor to the cooker to presure treat you wood with the desired concoction, the pressure should force the stain deepeer into the parts. Then you can use the vacuum pump to help dry the parts. As a safety precaution try to find out the max pressure the cooker is rated for!!!

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