I've heard that you can mix steel wool with a couple of other things to
create a nice dark rich black like substance that can be applied to
wood like a stain. Has anyone heard of this, and if so do you know the
other ingredients and proportions? Thanks!
Vinegar (or oxalic acid) will weakly etch iron forming unstable
in solution; time or light exposure will break these compounds down, so
they have to be mixed up fresh.
The reaction with tannin (which is present in oak and some other woods)
small iron particles which quickly form black iron oxide (hematite).
can diffuse into the wood cells, so the color is actually inside the
wood fibers, and it looks different from any applied black pigments.
There is a variant of this process that uses macerated oak-tree gall,
oak-gall ink (the standard ink of the nineteenth century and before).
I have made and used stain by dissolving (soaking until the liquid
is saturated with iron) nails in vinegar. I'm sure steel wool
would work even faster. It is an interesting color.
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
Mineral spirits, cigarette ashes, makes a charcoal stain. Applying with
steel wool pad, sitting in a plate of vinegar, further darkens. Don't
smoke? ashes from a burnt branch, or charcoal do about the same.
I thried this several weeks ago when I asked about "ebonizing" walnut. It
gave a black tint that tended towards grey. Even soaking the piece did not
give a true black. Something that worked quite well was a Marks-A-Lot
marking pen. This gave a true deep dark black, very much like ebony. It's
great for small pieces, but can be tricky (and expensive) with anything
very large. Once dry it seems impervious to solvents and takes shellac and
water-based poly without streaking or smearing.
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