Saturday, December 24, 2016

Holiday Gift #2: Ebonized Oak Serving Tray - Finishing

Just wanted to add a little bit to the last post.  Ebonizing of the project went well.  For the iron solution I used steel wool and apple cider vinegar.  Time pressures made it so I couldn't wait 7 days for the solution, so I waited about 4 days, stirring each day.  And since it was chilly in the garage I also wrapped it in a heated "corn cozy" a lot of the time - heat increases the rate of a chemical reaction.

The steel wool had not disintegrated like it usually does, so I was a little worried.  So I tested the solution by dipping a couple test pieces in an oak-shaving tannin broth and then in the iron solution.
Test pieces turned color quickly
With a good test I went for it, giving the project a heavy coat of hot tannin broth, letting it dry and later knocking down the raised fibers.  I repeated that and after it was dried and sanded I applied the iron solution.  The color went dark quickly, but I still added a couple more coats.
Still wet with first coats - drill shown for black comparison
Hanging from the bicycle seat drying
After all ebonizing steps
When satisfied, I coated with BLO, waited 15 minutes and wiped dry, then waited a day before a second coat.  Lacking time, that was all the coats it would get.  This morning I gave it a couple coats of paste wax and it shined up pretty good.
The complete tray
Lookin' shiny
The final shot
Happy with how this came out.  And just in time ...


  1. Color looks good Matt. I didn't wait 7 days for either of my SW&Vs to cook. As soon as it was black I went with it. The heat idea is one I'll try and maybe I cut it down a day.

    1. Thanks Ralph. I was surprised at how well it did considering that the steel wool still seemed mostly intact. I'm sure there's more iron in the vinegar solution than I realized.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. Looking fantastic, great job.
    I am going to try this ebonizing thinghie this year...

    Bob and Rudy

    1. Thanks Bob. Hopefully you'll like the ebonizing. It's a really interesting look and you can still plainly see the wood grain.

      BTW, in a week or so I'll be posting about a couple old planes I bought locally off Craigslist. Probably won't cover the history as well as you do, but I hope it will still be interesting.

  3. Cool, that should be interesting, looking forward to these posts.
    To me half the fun with these old tools is to research them, you never know what you are gonna find... And then it send you in another directions and now you need to find a XYZ... :-)

    Bob, the enabler

  4. Another great post and perfect timing. I’m making jewellery box for my niece and I’m using a scorched white oak which I gather from the grain you too are using the same. Since my one has been scorched in an oven it’s dried the crap out of it so therefore it chips and snaps easily. However, the black colour looks beautiful and when I saw yours its Identical to mine. Can you walk me through the process. How steel wool and does it have to be apple cider can any vinegar do. What about the iron, how hot etc. feel free to shoot me an email.

  5. I keep looking at how delicious the colour turned out. I’m wondering though am I restricted to using Osmo or will any oil and wax will do

    1. Salko, it doesn't matter what oil you use, as long as it's a curing oil. I used BLO. McGuire uses Osmo. It's an oil and wax blend (and who knows what else is in there), but any oil will do.

    2. Thanks mate, it took me a while to find this post again. It would be nice if one could get an email notice of a reply or even a post.