Monday, September 28, 2015

Oxidizing Wood

With the building of the headboard complete, it was time to give it some character.  There's been a lot of talk lately about "reclaimed wood" and its popularity in various building projects.  Obviously I didn't have wood to "reclaim" so I had to make do with what I had.  After some Googling and Pinterest stalking, I stumbled on the oxidization process.  The look was stunning and it seemed relatively simple, so I gave it a shot.

Supplies Needed:

  1. Glass jar with lid 
  2. Steel wool
  3. White vinegar (I didn't have enough white vinegar so I mixed white with apple cider vinegar and the process worked just fine)
  4. Tea bags (preferably a black tea but any will do)
  5. Paint brush
  6. Sealant/Protectant (in this case, wood oil)


Plan on allowing 6-7 days for your vinegar mixture to set up prior to beginning the oxidizing process. 

To create your vinegar mixture:
  • Fill your jar with enough vinegar to paint on to your project (more if you plan on storing it for additional projects in the future)
  • Break apart the clump of steel wool and add to your jar
  • Loosely place lid on and swoosh the contents so all the steel wool is covered
  • Each day, give the jar a swoosh
  • This mixture is ready for use 6-7 days after it's creation 

To Start

  • Brew 2-3 bags of tea in about 2 cups of water, the darker the brew the better.  
  • Paint the brewed tea on to your wood project.  You won't see much of a difference but you need the tea to soak into the wood to enhance the chemical reaction.  The end result is deeper and richer in color.
  • Allow 30 minutes drying time
  • Rinse your brush with water (you'll reuse it for the next step)

The Reaction

This next step happens fast...right before your eyes.  Here is where you simply paint on the vinegar mixture that's been steeping for the last week and Voile! the magic happens.  


After the project has dried, protect the wood with the sealant of your choice.  In this case, I used a wood oil.  I chose an oil because, unlike a dining table or coffee table, the wood would not experience a high amount of traffic or use.  Options for actual protection and durability include water based or oil based polyurethane.

TIP: Be careful of drips, painting over areas that have already started to oxidize due to drippage will cause the wood to be darker in those spots.  

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