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Ebonized Finishes

brush Charles Neil dye ebonizing finish finishing shade spray the finishing store woodfinishing woodworking

Ebonize is a fancy word for “make it black”

To be honest, when I read all the concoctions that folks use to achieve a black color on
wood, I get a chuckle, it’s amazing.

I think the most popular one is using vinegar and 0000 steel wool. The process is to put the steel wool in a jar of vinegar and allow the acid in the vinegar to rust and eat away the steel wool forming a black liquid.

My experience with this is that it’s inconsistent. The acid in the vinegar can also alter
the color of the wood and a true black is not what is achieved and depending on the ratio of vinegar to steel wool will dictate the intensity, so you have to experiment.

Over 40 some years we have done a fair number of ‘black’ units. One of the favorites is
“black ash” the reason is the bold grain of ash or red oak shows boldly and is defined when ebonized.

Those looking for a high-gloss black finish, that’s a slightly different animal, but know
this, hard close grain woods will just be black. No grain or figure is really apparent, but
for a high sheen totally smooth look, they are best. I prefer a good maple.

To cut to the chase, the easiest and simplest method I know of and is my “go-to” method almost every time is a water base dye. Yep, it’s that simple, and one other thing, there is only on shade of black, or is it, actually there is, however many of the dyes are actually a very dark blue or green, so when you apply them and the dye dries, it may have a purple cast to it, as soon as a finish hits, it goes away.

Now, for one of my favorite tricks, one of the blackest products I know of is India Ink.
You can get it at most craft stores, it is a water base and it takes black pretty seriously, so wear gloves…trust me on this. The ink can be used as is or diluted a little, however, it’s kind of pricy. So what I do is add about an ounce or so to a quart of black dye, now I have black and you can wipe it, spray it, brush it, doesn’t matter, just get the project wet with the dye and your good.

Unlike other colors, the intensity of black leaves little room for error, meaning, lap marks,blotching and so forth are not an issue. Black is black, if you use the right material.

Top coat as you wish, water base products are compatible with any top coat.
So ebonize something, just keep it simple.



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