NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

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Samuel Hartpence
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:32 am

NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by Samuel Hartpence »

NOOB mistake today. Read a tip that said steel wool will help get dust off a surface before finishing. The problem is, I did a lye wash and neutralized the lye with vinegar. The vinegar then reacted to the steel wool and gave me some nasty black stains.

I'm sanding away, and that's getting a lot, but there are lots of very small black specks that don't appear to be going any where. Anyone have any tips?

John Sonksen
Posts: 356
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 12:16 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by John Sonksen »

Not sure you can do anything about it at this point. This is a classic way of ebonizing wood, soaking steel wool in vinegar and then using it as a stain. I believe what you've done is actually rust the steel wool, so I'm expecting the resulting particles have gone in a fair way into the wood. Can you change the finish you were going to do, maybe stain it dark? A picture might help too. What kind of wood are we talking about?

Samuel Hartpence
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:32 am

Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by Samuel Hartpence »

CHERRY

Steve Senseney
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Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by Steve Senseney »

This will be difficult to remedy.

Oxalic acid will bind the Iron atoms, and is used as a bleaching agent. It might help a little.

Samuel Hartpence
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:32 am

Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by Samuel Hartpence »


John Sonksen
Posts: 356
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 12:16 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by John Sonksen »

wow, learn something new every day!

David King
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Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by David King »

It is a wood bleach and will remove pigment from the wood surface. You may have to tone the original color back in there once the black stain is gone.

Samuel Hartpence
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:32 am

Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by Samuel Hartpence »

That's fine. To be honest, I love the dry colors of this body, but it was getting a bit dark with naptha/mineral spirits so I assumed the finish would be darker than I wanted it to be. If I lighten it up a bit, perhaps I can use Tru-Oil and get a bit more luster out of the grain but still hit the spectrum of colors I was hoping for. Thanks for the help everyone.

Also, I have a slab of pine that may turn into a telecaster in the near future, and for that one, I may intentionally age it a bit with the vinegar and steel wool. I think I can be a cool effect.

Bill Raymond
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Location: Red Bluff California

Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by Bill Raymond »

In order for the iron solution to darken the wood it there must be tannin present. I don't think pine would have the tannins that cherry, etc have, and so would not darken. You may have to treat it with a tannin "tea" before trying the iron solution.

Also, be aware that cherry will darken when exposed to sunlight, even through a finish. Your cherry may end up quite a bit darker than you intended over time, anyway!

Samuel Hartpence
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:32 am

Re: NOT intended: Vinegar and Steel Wool

Post by Samuel Hartpence »

Just as an update. The Oxalic acid worked flawlessly in removing the tanin stains. I attempted to return the aged cherry look with lye again, but when I attempt to neutralize the lye with vinegar, the tannin spots show up again (this time with no metal). There may be something else out there that works but I'm getting antsy to play this thing. Additionally the cherry went from a very deep red to kind of a fiery orange that I decided I rather like. I'm a little apprehensive that the cherry will age unevenly under an oil finish (and possibly any finish), but I'm going to give a wipe-on poly a try, and give it a thicker finish. If it blotches a bit in the future, I've decided I'm okay with that.

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