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DIY Tales: Oxidizing Wood with a Home Made Stain

By DIO Home Improvements on Nov 08, 2013

When I built my plumbers pipe bench, I knew I wanted a greyish color stain. A friend told me you could make a stain mixing vinegar and steel wool! I decided to give it a try using three different "recipes".



White Vinegar
Steel Wool
*Coffee (optional)
* Tea (optional)

First: I ripped up a piece of steel wool and put it in a glass jar. Then I filled the jar with white vinegar. I let this sit for 24 hours, shaking it occasionally.

Second: I brewed some coffee and drank a cup, putting the leftover brewed coffee that I didn’t drink in a container and let it cool (drinking a cup is totally optional!). I boiled some water and put it in a cup with a tea bag and let that cool.

Third: I used a scrap piece of the same wood as I was using on top of my bench. I painted one stripe with coffee and a second stripe with tea.

Fourth: After the coffee and tea had dried I used my oxidize “stain” and painted three stripes, one on top of the coffee, one on top of the tea and one by itself. The reason coffee and tea are suggested when using this oxidize wood stain is because some wood species do not have enough tannins in them — the coffee and tea help with that!

Here you can see the wood changing color:


My favorite color was the tea at 5 minutes. So after sanding the wood for my bench with 320 grit, I brushed some cold tea on let that dry (took about an hour). Then I stained it with the vinegar and steel wool oxidization mix — that took about an hour to dry. Then I sanded again with 220 grit until I got the desired color.


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