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Ebonizing Wood

  • 29 Jan 2023 8:24 PM
    Reply # 13077671 on 12990572

    It looks like my solution worked fine. After a week I tried it even though the steel wool didn't dissolve. It turned cherry quite black and quickly as well.

    After another week my steel wool in another test jar melted down and the liquid turned cloudy. Its interesting to note that you don't have to wait for the steel wool to fully rust out.

    Thanks for your response.

    As for storing the solution, it helps if the lid is plastic. Metal will rust. I went to Woodcrafters and they sold me a small urine sample container. They said they were pretty leak proof (no pun intended). I can vouch for these containers. So when you go to your medical lab, ask for a few. They may come in handy.


  • 26 Jan 2023 9:23 AM
    Reply # 13073872 on 12990572


    I guess I'm catching up on the forum after not checking it for a while, so not sure if this is still useful...

    Did you try the solution on wood?

    I can't remember how much color change I saw in the vinegar solution, but I do believe it did change.  And maybe it took a while.  You can try the solution on a test piece to see if any ebonizing happens.

    Things to try - make a bigger batch, stir/agitate the soaking wool more, give it more time to soak.  I think I gave it more than a couple days with a small batch.  This method depends on getting the vinegar in contact with the surface area of the steel, so these might increase how much reaction you are getting.

    Also, I think I referenced the article in Fine Woodworking June 2019 last time I did this.


  • 15 Nov 2022 2:24 PM
    Message # 12990572

    Hi folks,

    I am trying to make an ebonizing solution with about 3/4 cup of white vinegar and a few tablespoons of steel wool. I rinsed the wool in water with soap to get rid of oils and then added the wool to my vinegar. So far after a day, I see no color change in the solution. In fact, the vinegar is so clear I'll bet I can use it on a salad. Its been in the garage so its been cold at night.

    I looked up making this solution on the web and it is mighty easy. Just wool and vinegar. Some say that one would start to see bubbles. I see nothing.

    Any tips or suggestions?



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