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Black Finish Help


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If you want pitch black, you can use oil dye.


Just make sure to be careful when you clear coat it because it can run off. I did a finish like that once way back when. I gently blotted the clear for the first coat and worked fine.

If you don't want pitch black, you can get a good permanent black by chemically changing the color of the wood like the photos below. There's a whole process to it (it's not that hard), but I can let you know how if that's a look you want.



Edited by NotYou
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I might do a proper tutorial of this soon, but here's the how to do it.

The most important thing to know is different types of wood will react to this differently. This works because the tannic acid in the wood reacts with the rust and turns black. Some woods have low tannic acid content. Walnut and mahogany, which are both incredible sounding woods, work great with this. Walnut has an especially high tannic acid content and will turn pitch black in seconds. If you're using a wood with low acid content, you can brew some black tea then wipe it onto the wood a few times. Black tea is loaded with tannic acid and it will absorb into the wood. Just make sure it's even. You'll know if the wood species does not have a lot of tannic acid by doing a test run. It will turn gray and not black if there isn't enough. Maple will turn gray, for instance.

You'll need white vinegar, a jar with a lid, any rusty scrap (rusty nails, screws, etc.) and 0000 steel wool.

I use both rusty nails and steel wool, but I've heard it works with just one or the other. I assume only using steel wool will result in a cleaner black color, but I've never tried it.

Fill the jar with the white vinegar and drop in the nails and steel wool. Let it sit for about a week. Once a day or so, stir the contents of the jar. After a week (four days should be enough if you're in a hurry) the steel wool should be dissolved and the rust should be mostly off the metal parts. Pull out the big pieces of metal and it's ready to use. If you want it to be a little cleaner, you can filter it with an old t-shirt to remove the rust particles. Also, if you let the jar sit a long time, the sediment will all sink to the bottom and the top will be clear. You can use that clear liquid for a completely rust free black finish. I sometimes like to leave the rust particles in; they give the wood an interesting rusty look along with the black.

Wipe the vinegar/rust mixture onto the wood. The change can take a couple minutes. You can repeat if necessary. When it's dry, you can finish like normal. The color won't rub off because it's a chemical color change, it's not sitting on the wood like dye. Keep in mind that it will raise the grain, so you might need to sand back the first time you wipe it on.

By the way, you only need a jar with a lid because it smells. Any container will do, though.

Just ask if you need to know anything else. Let me know how it turns out!

Edited by NotYou
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(cut and paste into folder on computer)

Well..I think I found the finish for my next Explorer in the works possibly..I was going to do just gloss black but the limba has such a nice texture I hate to hide it..I just don't like the greenish color of Limba.

Thanks for the pics and the explanation.I remember Avangers doing it,but on the scrap pieces he used it did not show the potential.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Damn you are a talented Mo-Fo, I love that look!

PS, I never use steel wool for much of anything, but don't you have to be careful,

doesn't some steel wool come with a slight bit of oil in it and that would be preferably avoided?

Just curious. :D

It should say on the the bag of it. I always use 0000 steel wool when finishing since I have never had any luck with sanding and that's how I was taught but yes some steel wool has oil in it. I remember Avenger saying something about the steel wool with oil in his Mockingbird or iceman build thred I can't remember which but it's the one where he ebonized the neck. It might be a good idea to look there.

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