Author Topic: vinegar and steel wool stain  (Read 6712 times)

Offline aprilheadhunter

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vinegar and steel wool stain
« on: October 08, 2010, 06:27:17 PM »
can someone post instructions for using vinegar and steel wool as a stain?
« Last Edit: October 21, 2015, 11:37:47 PM by VECtor Calls »
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Offline Two Creeks Calls

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2010, 06:36:11 PM »
Take a container that will hold a steel wool pad and vinegar (I used a Pint Jar)

Wash the steel wool with dish detergent and rinse well (they have an oil on them)

Add the steel wool to container and add Vinegar to cover along with some distilled water (tap water has minerals in it) A ratio of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water is what I used

Allow it to sit for a few days.

Remove steel wool and seal container. You can strain the liquid through an old t-shirt to make sure no steel fibers remain.

Add stain to wood

Lightly sand and reapply if needed

Use a heat source to "warm" the solution. I used a piece of brown paper bag and burnished it in (friction) but I
 also used a lighter, it doesnt take much

Then apply what ever finish you prefer over it but allow it to dry

Thats my method anyway

« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 07:33:56 PM by Parker »
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Offline Aaron at Wingerts Woodworks

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2010, 08:50:48 PM »
I use exactly the same method.  Didn't know to wash the steel wool first....That's probably why it took a long time for my solution to turn dark.  When it gets really nasty looking it is good and ready to use.  I use a plumbing torch to heat the call on the lathe (spinning) immediately after applying the stain.  It raises the grain, so do your fine sanding after staining. 

Here's pics of a curly maple call I did this way and what the solution looks like when it is ready.



Offline dogcatcher

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2010, 10:05:37 PM »
There are several sites that have the recipe of getting the mixture together.  I use a quart plastic jar, first I wash the steel wool in soapy water, then set it out to rust.  The way I was taught was to put a couple of rusty nails on the steel wool to speed up the process.  When the steel wool has gotten pretty well rusted you will see that it falls apart or crumbles in your hand.  I then add the rusted pad to the jar of vinegar.   I set it aside for about 2 weeks, by now it looks like a mess.  And if you spill it you will have more than a mess.   

Heating it like KC did is an option, also using heat in selected areas of the call body makes a great looking call. Look at some of the burnt hedge/Osage photos where only pat of teh call body is heated.  Think outside of the box and you will always have a winner.

Some safety issues, do not tighten the lid of the on the jar, the chemical reaction can cause too much pressure and create a mini explosion.  I also have been told not to use glass jars with metal lids, no idea as to why, I just don't do it.  Use latex or nitrile gloves, any sanding dust under your finger nails or embedded in your skin will also turn color, and it will look awful and is hard to get off. 

There are commercial version of this mixture that work better, you can find them on muzzleloader building sites.   I have used one of them, it did a darker "dye" or reaction than this mess.  No idea as to cost, but this method is so cheap any other way seems like a waste of money.

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Offline Two Creeks Calls

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2010, 11:08:01 PM »
The lid issue (metal band)...vinegar is a corrosive. I use a lid and a band but do not tighten the band...I leave it looseenogh to allow anything to escape if needed, and to slow down the amount that will spill when i knock it over! :innocent:
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Offline Bucko

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2010, 08:02:42 PM »
I just started a batch soaking  :pot:, and am anxious to try it out on a piece of cherry I have here ready to turn. Thanks for the recipe   :punk:

Offline Aaron at Wingerts Woodworks

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2010, 04:41:28 PM »
I wouldn't expect spectacular results on cherry Bucko, unless your cherry has some crazy figure in it.  I imagine it'll simply darken (ebonize) the cherry, and it will likely be blotchy.  In my experience this little recipe works best on figured maple, or other light woods with distinctive figure like curl or quilting.

Offline HuntnCarve

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2010, 05:11:58 PM »
What you are seeing is a "iron tannate" reaction.  It'll be more pronounced in woods that are higher in tannic acid.  Cherry has a good amount of tannic acid, so you should get a decent reaction.  May not be as dark as the Maple.  But it will still color up.
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Offline Bucko

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2010, 07:24:05 PM »
      Pics are crappy but I wanted to post a follow-up to useing the solution. I used Apple Cider vinegar that I had here at home with the steel wool, the mix soaked for 21 days due to my busy at everything except this. Upon rubbing the solution on with a paper towell it was darker than any Walnut would be and looked bad. I then put it back on the mandrel and turned the lathe on and rubbed a piece of worn 600 grit sandpaper across it 3 times and the surface highlights were gone leaving a nice appearance. I'll use it again as the piece actually looks awesome and came from a piece of plain, straight grained material.

Offline VECtor Calls

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Re: vinegar and steel wool?
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2015, 11:36:45 PM »
Bump for another David find tutorial sticky.
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Offline Greg at PTDO Game Calls

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Re: vinegar and steel wool stain
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2015, 12:04:41 AM »
If anyone is wanting to try this on woods that do not have a lot of tannins, you can steep some black tea and apply it to your wood first. This will increase the tannins in the blank. then apply the vinegar stain. works well this way with pine to darken it up.