Steel Wool and Vinegar

Steel wool and vinegar wood stain???

The banister on this stairwell is made from walnut, but the treads and risers are made from birch. The homeowner wanted the treads to match the banister. But we could not find a pre-mixed, proprietary stain that would stain the treads dark enough.

That’s when we remembered an old timer’s technique that was sometimes used to create an ebony finish on black piano keys. Steel wool is steeped in a solvent and the solvent is then applied on the wood. The chemical reaction between the prepared liquid and the natural resins in the wood worked like magic, turning the treads to the exact darkness we needed.

Restoration work often requires one to reach beyond what’s on the shelf to recover and/or create one’s own tools, mixtures, and techniques that produce the desired results.