A Unique Ebonizing Recipe

Here's a custom chemical brew that goes on yellow and green, then turns deep black when the oil finish hits it. September 16, 2008

I have a project in mind that will require ebonizing some of the piece. I will probably do it chemically but I have also read that India ink works well, which makes a lot of sense.

I would be interested in the pros and cons or comparisons of both methods regarding application and aesthetics. I will probably use either walnut (no sap) or mahogany for this piece.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
Do some tests to see what works for you. Here is the formula for Tage Frids' chemical stain for ebonized oiled black walnut if you are interested in experimenting.

Mix in a clean jar:
100 grams copper sulfate
50 grams potassium chlorate
615 grams hot distilled water
In another clean jar:
100 grams aniline hydrochloride

40 grams ammonium chloride
615 grams hot distilled water
Mix equal parts of solution together as needed but don't mix more than you think you will need for each coat. Apply 3 coats with a sponge or brush allowing 24 hours dry time between coats. After the third coat is dry smooth with fine sandpaper using linseed oil as a lubricant.

The first coat will look a little yellow, the second a little green and the third coat very green. The instant the oil touches the finish it will turn deep black. You can use any oil as the finish - Tung, linseed or penetrating. This is definitely not a production finish but gives a beautiful oiled black finish.

From contributor B:
Spray the job with a black alcohol stain, really dark, and then stain it with a black stain made with lampblack japan and mineral spirits. Seal it, scuff it, lacquer it and tint it to blend it all together, and then lacquer it, scuff and top coat.

Tint = drop black japan mixed with lacquer thinner. mix ratio about 15-20% black to 80-85 thinner in a cup gun

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the recipe. I hate to ask but I have not been able to find the aniline hydrochloride, do you have a source for that?

From contributor A:
Be very careful. It is dangerous, wonderful stuff! If you are not well versed in handling chemicals safely, don't attempt using. That's my disclaimer. Otherwise wear some gloves and don't huff it and I think you'll live.

I just did a google search :"buying aniline hydrochloride" and came up with over 700,000 hits.