Richard McGuire's latest video series was a side table project that included ebonizing the legs as part of the finishing regimen. If you haven't subscribed, it's an excellent series and I thought the part on ebonizing was well worth the cost of the entire series. I thought I'd try the process on an oak frame that I built a couple weeks ago.
I have to say here - I tried to contact Richard and Helen to ask if they minded if I blog about my experiment, but I have not heard from them. So I hope this is OK and if I leave out some details, you'll understand.
I started a couple weeks ago by preparing an iron solution that would be used to react with the tannins that occur naturally in oak to turn it black.
|8-12 oz. mason jar, fine steel wool and some vinegar|
|After two days|
|After two days - mixed|
|I ended up scooping out most of this muck|
|Mmmm, oak soup|
|Testing the oak soup and iron solution on a coniferous shim|
After coating the frame with the soup and letting it sit a while (twice), I added the iron solution. You can still easily see the original oak color, but the chemical reaction that turns things black keeps going well after the application of the solutions.
|Oak frame (and scrap frame piece) after first application, shown with raw oak|
|After a while|
|I like the color|
|Close-up showing grain|
|Not as black as this black plastic, but still pretty dark!|
|Another area showing hints of the original oak brown|
One last thing - I was interested in how far into the wood the black color reached. So I took one of my scrap test pieces and crosscut it. Here is the end grain view. You can see a little penetration in the upper left where there was a small crack on the wood, but almost zero penetration from any long grain surface into the wood.
|Shows almost no penetration of the color into the wood from long grain surfaces|
|End grain penetration|