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Ebonizing Wood

Added/Modified on December 6, 2016
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When I’m going to ebonize a project, I start with a dark-colored wood, such as walnut. You can ebonize any wood, but a darker wood gets black more quickly.

The process of ebonizing is as easy as applying a stain. I mix up a fairly concentrated black aniline dye. I like to use a water-based dye because it’s the easiest to work with and the most lightfast. But because you are putting water on the wood, you need to raise the grain first. To do this, wet the surface of the wood, and then when it’s dry, lightly sand off the raised “whiskers”.

To dye the wood, I mix three teaspoons of dye in a quart of hot water. Then I brush a heavy coat on the wood and let it set. Since the idea is to get the wood as dark as possible, I don’t bother to wipe off the excess. In fact, you may want to apply a couple more coats. When it’s dry, simply apply a finish.

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