End table set - build #7: Ebonizing the legs

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Blog entry by Ottacat posted 02-04-2014 01:11 PM 2380 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Bases, Part II Part 7 of End table set - build series Part 8: Veneering the top »

My vinegar and steel wool solution is ready. After a few days the steel wool had completely dissolved so I even added a bit more. By the time I was ready to ebonize it too had dissolved. I tried filtering the solution through a coffee filter but it was too thick and I had to squeeze it out.

Before starting the ebonizing, I wetted both pieces to raise the grain, let them dry and sanded them again to 220.

The Quebracho bark tea powder arrived.

Given one heaping tablespoon makes enough for both bases I think I have a lifetime supply. You put the powder in a container and add enough hot water to make a paste. You then add more water and progressively dilute the past until you’ve made about a quart. It has a moderately strong and very distinctive smell.

Now I take the bases, a foam brush and proceed to coat each piece in the tea mixture.

I then let both pieces sit for an hour to let the tea penetrate into the wood. Now I start with the vinegar / steel solution. The big thing the article emphasises is that the tea will contaminate your vinegar solution if you use a brush or towel on the wood and then dip it back into the vinegar mixture. To work around this I put the vinegar mixture into a spray bottle and sprayed it onto the piece and then used a foam brush to spread it evenly around.

The ebonizing effect starts right away but takes time to darken. I did both pieces and then set them aside to dry. I’d estimate they were 60% black and they dried with a chalky appearance. After they were dry the next step is to apply another coat of the tea mixture. This makes a big difference, taking away the chalky appearance and making the wood about 80% black. Here is a photo of one at this stage. It looks pretty black but close inspection would reveal it wasn’t yet fully black.

So I then did another treatment of the vinegar solution, let them dry and then another coat of the tea solution. At this point the pieces were extremely black.

Once the bases were dry I finished them with 2 coats of GF High Performance. I stopped at two coats as the legs has a very nice appearance of being protected but not too shiny or plastic looking. I used a water-based finished because it is nice and clear and allowed the black to show very nicely. I was very happy with the results.

4 comments so far

View CL810's profile


4077 posts in 3908 days

#1 posted 02-04-2014 02:43 PM

Looks great Otta. I’ve enjoyed the blog.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3192 days

#2 posted 02-04-2014 03:18 PM

Great results, it’s lookiing good.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2501 posts in 4790 days

#3 posted 02-04-2014 06:00 PM

Looks good , I am not familar with the tea you have used, got a link by chance . I am assuming your using the tea to put tannin in the wood so it will react with the vinegar/SW mix. I have used strong gree tea for this , but this tea has me intrigued.

View Ottacat's profile


532 posts in 2771 days

#4 posted 02-04-2014 07:27 PM

Charles, this post has both a link to the source for the Quebracho bark tea and a link to the article in pop wood where I first read about it –

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