I've seen (as you have) many old pieces of furniture that was finished
in such a way as to appear to be ebony wood. I think they would have
used shellac over something but I'm not sure how it was done.
Any ideas ?
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Sun, Feb 13, 2005, 8:11pm (EST-3) email@example.com (Perk) asks:
<snip> Any ideas ?
Yep. Google. Ebonizing wood gets 5,620 hits, ebonizing gets
Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong.
- David Fasold
The process is called ebonizing. There are a number of ways of doing
it both chemically and using dyes and stains. Use google to look
ebonizing. If you don't find anything there I will tell you a
technique I use. I am reluctant to write a treatise on ebonizing
because it is time consuming and I believe the info is already out
there if you will only look for it.
You read an old-time book on finishing, and use those recipes. Plenty
of books out there, plenty of recipes to choose from. Some look better
than others, but may be more time-consuming / appropriate for small or
fine work. Some recipes work better on some timbers than others.
There's also the question of what "ebony" looks like. Pianos are a
high-gloss surface finish and often over uncoloured wood (although
dying the timber makes leg chips less obvious). Fine work is often a
chemical colouring of the timber itself, not even a dye or stain. This
might even be left unfinished afterwards.
Collecting old finishing books is a particular interest of mine. Some
are original, a lot are reprinted by modern publishers like Dover or
What sort of piece are you thinking of ?
So how glossy do you want the finish ? Simplest would be a quick
wipe of a commercial black dye, then black shellac over that. Always
use _new_ black shellac, because it doesn't store well (worse than
other shellacs). If it's a less shiny finish you're after, then do a
better job of the staining and oil finish it.
I wouldn't use a traditional ebonising solution on stripped timber.
Some of them rely on the chemistry of the original "fresh" timber and
that's probably no longer predictable. One of my usual ebonising
solutions is iron & vinegar (full recipe posted many times
previously) but this depends on a tannin-rich timber. Doesn't work on
things that have been put through a stripping tank.
One tip on chair caning is to judge beforehand whether it was caned
with individual canes (old chairs) or with a pre-woven sheet of woven
cane (most modern stuff). Although the pre-woven stuff is much quicker
and somewhat easier to use, it looks awful if used on a chair that
wasn't originally drilled for it. Some better quality or more rounded
chairs had caning holes drilled that weren't a simple equal grid
layout and they look better if you allow the caning layout to taper to
follow these holes.
I'm just finishing an experiment using viniger and steel nails -- put
the nails in the viniger, let it sit a few days, and then soak your
wood. It seems to work quite well on oak, but has almost no effect
on ash. It gives the oak a very distinct look.
Gotta chuckle when I read all these replies. I'm sure they'll work, but the
easiest cheapest way is to use India ink. If you use maple, hit it with
India ink, let it dry, scuff the raised grain and hit it again...you'll have
ebony. and black fingers.
"Perk" < firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
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