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Guys, here is a great discussion on this in the American Association of Woodturners on using steel wool and vinegar:
Steel Wool and Vinegar
I have used Ritz clothing dye, roofing tar diluted with Goo be gone, De-Solv-it or other type tar grease, crayon removing solvent. I have used old latex house paint mixed with Ritz dye. Steel wool mixed with vinagar, this mixture works well on maple. I have also discouvered folks selling their half used old commercal stains at garage sales and swapmeets for cheap.
I just used the vinegar/steel wool stain. I was very happy with how it turned out. I put it on a oak fretboard, and it turned a deep chocolate color, like Hershey's special dark. The color really popped when I put Formbey's Restore-a-finish on it. I will definately be using this technique in my next build.
I'm in a hotel for a couple of nights and brought the disassembled parts of my first CBG with me "just in case" there was time to fettle anything.
The neck is some fairly solid 30-yr old pine from our boys' bunk beds and I just stained it with 3 sachets of hotel coffee in a little water.
First coat lifted the grain a little, sanded back down and re-applied. Looks like it is taking nicely.
What's the worst that can happen? It smells and/or comes off on my hands. It's coffee. Could be worse.
I have a question..... does anyone know what I need to add to beet juice to stabilize it as a wood stain. It seems that it would be a great color. I read somewhere that a bit of alum would work but I don't know how much.
Can you put these solutions on over frets or is this an "in the future" part of my better planning? Wondering what it might do to the frets if anything?
Roofing tar mixed with mineral spirits is commonly called "asphalt stain" and old timers called it "asphaltem". It is used a lot by furniture refinishers and can be mixed with oil based wiping stains and is applied with a brush and then a cleaner brush is used to even it out. It is a terrific stain. I just did a grand piano with it.