All, There has been a GREAT thread on the forum about homemade wood stains. Please repost your "recipe" here.

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I've just tried an experiment with iron sulphate solution, which was suggested in that woodturners' forum as being an improved way of getting the same chemical reactions as are responsible for the nails in vinegar stain. So far I've only got a colour I'd describe as slate grey rather than black, but I guess it might be possible to improve with further experimentation. One thing I'd say is that it's definitely quick - the stained colour begins to appear immediately I apply the solution and is complete in minutes.

I've posted some pictures and notes.

Wes Yates said:
Guys, here is a great discussion on this in the American Association of Woodturners on using steel wool and vinegar:

Steel Wool and Vinegar

Artists' oil colors thinned with oil finish, such as Watco or straight boiled linseed. Any wood tone can be matched with a mixture of raw or burnt umber or raw or burnt sienna. If you're not satisfied with the stain, you have 30 minutes to wipe the wood back to its old color.

Make your own walnut stain by steeping walnut husks in household ammonia. Turns your hands black and stinks like a cat box, but the color is closer to REAL walnut, which contains not just brown, but a secondary range of blues, purples, etc.
Walnut Watco is, in fact, roofing asphalt mixed with oil and varnish.

Bob Harrison said:
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.
For a black/ebony stain, I mixed up a brew of white vinegar and steel wool. Just drop the piece of plain steel wool into a jar of vinegar and let it dissolve, couple three days. Then just wipe on your sanded wood, and it will begin to darken within moments. The results depend entirely on the wood you are staining. The example pictured:
is walnut, and it turned a deep black. Oak blackens too, not as dark as the walnut, and some of the grain remains brown; interesting. Maple, on the other hand, just turned dirty grey.

As Juju points out, the staining is fairly shallow, and some sanding will reduce and remove it. We're using the blackened walnut on the guitar my son and I are building for him. He wants that "badass" look and is excited about those skull tuners Gitty was looking into!

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. 

You might try vinegar, seems to me we used to use it to set dyes in material. If you can ever get ahold of some huckleberries, they make the most beautiful indigo color.

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.


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