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You're a grown-up with oodles of common sense, so you probably know this stuff already, but you really should wear gloves and safety glasses when working with Staffordshire Black solutions. Also, Ebonising Juice in particular is a bit stinky, so you might want to bear that in mind and open a window.

Oh, and cover any surfaces that you don't want to destroy, including bench tops and lathe beds. Don't even think about ebonising wood on your lovely kitchen table because divorce is an expensive business.
Finally, if you're unsure how ebonising will look, try the process on a scrap piece of the same timber or test it on a hidden area of your workpiece first. Obviously.

Finally, SB is not rated as food safe, so any use on foody items is at your own risk.

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Ebonising with Staffordshire Black! | Wood Turning Live Demo

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Ebonising with Staffordshire Black! | Wood Turning Live Demo
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Ebonising with Staffordshire Black! | Wood Turning Live Demo

Ebonising with Staffordshire Black! | Wood Turning Live Demo

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Ebonising ash in the woods

Ebonising ash in the woods

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Just a quickie

Just a quickie

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Download and print an A5

workshop-friendly version

of these instructions here

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Download and print a

larger-text A4 version of

these instructions here

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  1. Sand your workpiece to no finer than 400-grit.
    You're welcome to go finer if you want, but the key to ebonising is absorption and the higher the grit used the smaller the resulting pores. The less porous the wood, the harder the juices have to work to penetrate the surface.


  2. Raise the grain with water, dry, then sand lightly with the last grit you used to remove the fuzzy bits.
    Skipping this step will mean you'll probably end up with a rough surface after applying the ebonising juices - by which time it'll be more bothersome to deal with - so you may as well get it out of the way now. In fact to make doubly-sure you could do it again... s'up to you. Use gentle heat if you want to dry the piece quicker.


  3. Remove dust.
    Use methylated spirits (aka meths or denatured alcohol) or an airline to clean out those pores and allow more thorough penetration. Allow it to dry if necessary, although alcohol-based meths will evaporate pretty quickly.


  4. Give the bottles a good shake then decant a little Staffordshire Black Tannin Juice and Staffordshire Black Ebonising Juice into separate containers. (Click here for our full Ebonising Kit)
    The point of this step is to minimise contamination of the juices with one another. Although you'll be rinsing the application brushes between each coat (an optional step) you'll still be introducing traces to the wrong containers as you dip. For that reason, chuck out any left-overs when you're finished. It's not worth spoiling the main bottles by pouring a measly few ml back in.


  5. Using a foam brush, apply a generous coat of Staffordshire Black Tannin Juice to the area you want to ebonise. (Once again, click here for our full Ebonising Kit)
    A paintbrush, paper towel, rag or your least favourite child can also be used but we find that a foam brush makes it easier to control the coverage, ensuring a nice, even coat.

    NOTE: Some species of timber already contain high amounts of natural tannin, such as oak, cherry and walnut, whereas others such as pine and beech do not. As Staffordshire Black Ebonising Juice reacts with tannin you could technically skip this step when working with oak and suchlike, but applying extra tannin as part of the whole process can only enhance the result. That said, applying Staffordshire Black Tannin Juice to beech et al is pretty much essential.

  6. Allow wood to dry naturally.
    Because you're no doubt chronically impatient, using a heat gun or hairdryer might seem like a good idea, but you'll be evaporating the juice away before it has a fighting chance of soaking into the wood. If you insist on doing it, at least wait a few minutes first then be very gentle because excessive heat can split the wood...


  7. Rinse brush thoroughly and dry it while you're waiting. (optional)
    Run your foam brush under the tap or swish it around in a bucket then squeeze the water out with a sheet of paper towel. It doesn't have to be bone dry but the wetter it is the more diluted the juice will be when you next use it. This step is to minimise contaminating the solutions, because with each new use the brush will pick up a mix of the juices it has made contact with beforehand, potentially spoiling the effect.


  8. Preferably using a second brush, liberally apply a coat of Staffordshire Black Ebonising Juice.
    This is where you will see the colour-change starting as the Ebonising Juice chemically reacts with the Tannin Juice, transmogrifying the actual cells of the wood. Congrats! You are now ebonising wood.


  9. Allow to dry naturally.
    Or heat gun/hairdryer, gently, blah, blah, blah.

  10. Rinse brush thoroughly and squeeze out the water again. (still an optional step)

  11. Repeat steps 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 as many times as you want until you've had enough.
    Each round of applications will deepen the ebonising effect, albeit with diminishing returns after a while, so deciding when to stop is entirely up to you. It is important to remember that the results you see at this point will change noticeably with the next step.


  12. Finish.
    No, don't give up and watch Coronation Street - apply your finish of choice. We love how oil gives the ebonising depth and brings it to life, but any penetrating product (including sanding sealers and abrasive paste) works too.
    Nevertheless, this is your opportunity to experiment so go bananas!


  13. Finish. Again.
    NOW you can put the TV on, but not before you've taken photographs of your work and posted them to social media using the hashtag #StaffordshireBlack and tagging us to make sure we see your creations!


  14. There is no step 14, but ending on 13 doesn't seem right.

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