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Ebonizing Walnut

nhenry

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I picked up an old BDL stock off ebay one day, just have had it sitting in the closet thinking of what to do with it. I've wanted to start on a project to do over the summer, so here I go.

I haven’t been happy with my 280’s christensen stock, but I like the colors, so I got to researching about ways to turn wood black. In that reseach I came across ebonizing, which is an umbrella term for turning any wood black. There are multiple ways to do this, such as: staining, india ink, charring, and iron acetate. I'm choosing to do the iron acetate.

How it works:
Dissolving OOOO steel wool in vinegar yields what is essentially liquid rust (or iron acetate). You wipe it on wood and it creates a reaction with the natural wood tannins that turns the wood black. Since walnut has such a high tannin content (apparently), it'll turn pretty dark with just one coat.

What I'm doing:
I'm going to remove all finish off of the stock, then I'm going to remove the grip cap, forend tip, and butt plate (all white spacers included). From there I'm going to install a red Pachmayr, a real ebony forend tip, and an ebony grip cap. I may lightly recontour the forend to be slimmer, but we'll see. I then will coat all of the wood in super-concentrated black tea (more tannins). When that dries to the touch, I will then apply coats of iron acetate, sanding with 220 grit in between coats. After that, I'll apply tru oil and buff out the shine.

Here's the test specimen:

IMG_9564.jpeg

I have already began by inletting the barreled action. I worked slowly with a dowel and 80 grit sandpaper. For the barrel shank I used a sanding wheel on my dremel.

IMG_9577.jpeg

The old Weaver is just a stand in. It was my great grandpa’s at one point.
 
Last edited:
Iron acetate brewing, started work on the finish removing. Thanks to @p_ham for the advice on how to do it. It’s going pretty fast. The pic was taken after 50 minutes of work. It’s mostly done now. In retrospect I should have removed the buttplate beforehand.

I didn’t have a spare mason jar, but my wife retired this glass spray bottle tonight. Perfect for this application. I’ll transfer the liquid whenever it’s done.

IMG_9580.jpeg
IMG_9582.jpeg

I don’t have a workbench anymore, so all of the sanding and scraping has been done on my floor. You make do with what you have I suppose.
 
Iron acetate brewing, started work on the finish removing. Thanks to @p_ham for the advice on how to do it. It’s going pretty fast. The pic was taken after 50 minutes of work. It’s mostly done now. In retrospect I should have removed the buttplate beforehand.

I didn’t have a spare mason jar, but my wife retired this glass spray bottle tonight. Perfect for this application. I’ll transfer the liquid whenever it’s done.

View attachment 323617
View attachment 323620

I don’t have a workbench anymore, so all of the sanding and scraping has been done on my floor. You make do with what you have
No workbench!!! Thats rough.
 
Iron acetate brewing, started work on the finish removing. Thanks to @p_ham for the advice on how to do it. It’s going pretty fast. The pic was taken after 50 minutes of work. It’s mostly done now. In retrospect I should have removed the buttplate beforehand.

I didn’t have a spare mason jar, but my wife retired this glass spray bottle tonight. Perfect for this application. I’ll transfer the liquid whenever it’s done.

View attachment 323617
View attachment 323620

I don’t have a workbench anymore, so all of the sanding and scraping has been done on my floor. You make do with what you have I suppose.
I can see you laying on the floor on your belly with your feet kicking in the air like a little kid coloring!
 
Awesome thread! I have a bdl project on my to do list so great timing to watch you do yours first.
 
My ex-wife stripped the finish off my old Savage 110 wood stock.
Once she got the brown paint excuse of a stain off of it, we were amazed at the grain in the wood.

She used some white oak stain and polyurethane.

I have another wood stock for a 110 that I want to try Shou-sugi-ban on.

It's the Japanese process of bringing out the grain in the wood with heat from a torch.
 
I am looking forward to the final product. Not sure what to expect but anyone that gets creative and does something different has my attention.

Any checkering planned? Before or after ebonizing?

I like the old K3 Weaver. I would keep it on there :)

What is the finish on the metal? It looks different, but maybe just the lighting.
 
I am looking forward to the final product. Not sure what to expect but anyone that gets creative and does something different has my attention.

Any checkering planned? Before or after ebonizing?

I like the old K3 Weaver. I would keep it on there :)

What is the finish on the metal? It looks different, but maybe just the lighting.
None planned, but I’d be open to it. I do not have the skill for it and it’s not in my price range at the moment

The finish on the metal is copper cerakote. It’s the reason I’m not just oiling the natural walnut. It looks best with a dark stock (pic featuring Matthew) :
IMG_9416.jpeg

I’ve thought about using the K3 for a season, but the rear eyepiece has a small crack on one side and it’s lost all of the weatherproofing gas it had in it. It’s very reliable aside from that, though.
 
None planned, but I’d be open to it. I do not have the skill for it and it’s not in my price range at the moment

The finish on the metal is copper cerakote. It’s the reason I’m not just oiling the natural walnut. It looks best with a dark stock (pic featuring Matthew) :
View attachment 323661

I’ve thought about using the K3 for a season, but the rear eyepiece has a small crack on one side and it’s lost all of the weatherproofing gas it had in it. It’s very reliable aside from that, though.
I am not sure they even had Nitrogen in them. But I really don't know. I see what you are doing though. It will work, be different, and all yours. Can't beat that. Something to file in my idea box to use for something one day.
 
I am not sure they even had Nitrogen in them. But I really don't know. I see what you are doing though. It will work, be different, and all yours. Can't beat that. Something to file in my idea box to use for something one day.
It’s a K3 60-B, which is weaver’s first nitrogen filled scope. Or whatever gas they used.

I’m all finished with inletting the barrel channel, so I went ahead and put some of the iron acetate in it to test it out. The brown spots are where the old finish didn’t get 100% sanded out:
IMG_9588.jpeg
This was after only 2 minutes
 
It’s a K3 60-B, which is weaver’s first nitrogen filled scope. Or whatever gas they used.

I’m all finished with inletting the barrel channel, so I went ahead and put some of the iron acetate in it to test it out. The brown spots are where the old finish didn’t get 100% sanded out:
View attachment 323664
This was after only 2 minutes
Thanks for the info on the K3-60B. I learned something.

Did you apply heat to get the ebonizing? You could probably get the same or similar effect using aquifortis and some heat. That was the old method of coloring maple muzzleloader stocks. On walnut it might be quite black.

I have accidentally ebonized some spots on my maple countertops with hot, wet cast iron, and on the floor with wet cast iron casters on an old kitchen table :(
 
Thanks for the info on the K3-60B. I learned something.

Did you apply heat to get the ebonizing? You could probably get the same or similar effect using aquifortis and some heat. That was the old method of coloring maple muzzleloader stocks. On walnut it might be quite black.

I have accidentally ebonized some spots on my maple countertops with hot, wet cast iron, and on the floor with wet cast iron casters on an old kitchen table :(
Nope, no heat involved. Just apply and let it soak. Here it is after about 10 minutes. This is happening in real time

IMG_9589.jpeg
 
I bet you can touch up scratches very easily with a wipe of the same solution. For sure, scratches will show. Would the be a good rifle to finish with epoxy instead of an oil or oil-based urethane?
 
I bet you can touch up scratches very easily with a wipe of the same solution. For sure, scratches will show. Would the be a good rifle to finish with epoxy instead of an oil or oil-based urethane?
I’m going to finish it with tru oil, most likely. A good thing about this solution opposed to something surface level is that it gets around 1/32”-1/16” deep, so light scratches won’t show up very well.
 
Day 2 of the iron acetate brew. The pine popsicle stick is turning pretty dark.

IMG_9613.jpeg

I decided it couldn’t hurt to start putting it on the exterior of the stock because it’ll show any missed finish. Boy, this thing will be interesting.

IMG_9611.jpeg

If anyone knows whether or not Remington used dowels or any sort of protrusion into the forend to install the forend tip, lemme know. I’m tempted to cut it off and angle the nub like an LSS and say screw the ebony.

Also, how long does everyone like forends to be? Right now, this one feels a little long at 10”.
 
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