I do a lot of work with reclaimed wood, and nice rusty nail holes are
one of the tell-tale signs of previous use. Sometimes I get a great
board that I'd like to use, but it just doesn't have any of these nice
black nail holes. I'm wondering if I couldn't hammer in a couple of
(degreased) nails and spray it with something to cause rapid rusting.
Or maybe I could drill some holes and fill them with iron shavings?
Maybe I'm going about it wrong - what if I just put a couple of drops
of black dye into each hole - would it bleed into the surrounding wood
sort of like a nail does over a period of years?
I'm probably going to try a few things, but I was wondering if any of
you all had any suggestions. Thanks.
Some woods have the right chemistry (tannic acid) to form
microscopic particles of hematite from iron-ions-in-solution.
The chemistry is pretty well understood, because this
was the basis of black ink manufacture for centuries.
Grind up some oak gall and steep in water to make 'gallic acid'
or use '26% tannic acid solution' , or maybe even tartaric
acid (my formulary mentions all three) to make the reagent
that fixes the black color.
Drive some nails, and put a drop or two of the solution into each
nailhole (after pulling the nails). Let it sit a day or
two to soak in, and dry.
Then paint over the prepared spots with ferrous sulphate
solution (0.9 part FeSO4, 0.4 part sulphuric acid, 83 parts water).
Or, prepare a pickle with steel wool left in a jar overnight
with white vinegar (you can use nails, if you want, but steel
wool works fine for me) and after filtering this for crud,
just paint that on. Don't try to store the pickle, it's
I haven't tried this, just pulled the formulas out of the book,
except for direct application of the pickle to oak. That is
an ebonizing recipe that should be familiar to many.
Hard to say without seeing a picture, are the holes black? Rust colored, like
Maybe just hammer a nail in, pull it out and touch to inside of the hole with a
sliver with a drop of stain on it?
Please remove splinters before emailing
Make a rusty water solution by putting rusty nails or steel wool in
water. Put a drop of the rusty water into the nail hole with an eye
dropper. Use tea (contains tannic acid) as a mordant after the rusty
water dries. The tannic acid in the tea precipitates the rust in the
water and fixes it in the wood. The color is silver grey to ebony
black depending on the strength of the tea and how rusty the water is.
I've used this method when making cretches (sp?) for hand made
nativity sets to make the wood look old and weathered. It's an old
time method for quickly weathering cedar shake.
On Tue, 15 Jan 2008 16:37:26 -0800 (PST), Jay Pique
You might try BEHLEN Pore-O-Pac Paste Wood Grain Filler. It comes in
black was well as other colors. It's intended to fill the pores in
open pore woods such as mahogany and oak, but it might serve your
purpose as well. It is a paste material intended for wood. It would
take some experimenting but I think it would work. It would be much
easier than mixing the I think it is sold by both Woodcraft and
GarrettWade. It would certainly be easier and safer than mixing a
solution containing sulfuric acid.
Bill T. Ray
A few years back I was building a deck around my pool. Had most of my
tools in a wheelbarrow. It started to rain so I threw everything into
the wheelbarrow and rolled it in the shed for the night. Everything
in the wheelbarrow had a few sprinkles of rain on them. The next day
almost all exposed metal had rusted overnight. The culprit was an
open container of chlorine tablets for the pool. You may want to
experiment with something along those lines. Spritz the nails with
water and put in my shed, just kidding, a closed container, then nail
those suckers into the wood.
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