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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:27 am 
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I've heard about using vinegar, and a few other ways, but I'm wondering if anyone here has actually done it.

I never tried it myself, so if anyone is willing to share some tricks or stories, I'm all ears!

The goal is to use oak plywood for the cabinet, but to make it look like old, bleached out, weathered wood. ...The nice "silvery grey" color is the goal.

To me, the tricky part seems to be the fact that it's gonna be plywood. Solid wood seems like it would be easier.

If worse comes to worst, I'll just use an oil stain... but I'd rather not.

The final finish will be poly, if that matters.

Thanks in advance :thumbup:

Jim


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:08 am 
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The vinegar and steel wool technique is, as I understand it, a means to darken or 'ebonize' oak rather than to bleach it to a 'silvery grey'. You might try reading through some of the information on Daly's wood finishes site:

http://www.dalyswoodfinishes.com/

I didn't take the time to look myself but they have some pretty savvy people on their staff that could more than likely provide some info.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:35 am 
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I have inadvertently found that in the dog days of my Sacramento summer that I can produce perspiration that when dropped onto oak that it weathers into a dark gray quite nicely.
However, as the temperatures have dropped down into the 90s it might take longer to gather enough to cover a cabinet.

I have seen advertised (but have no experience with) a Varathane product for a "weathered wood accelerator":
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Varathane-1- ... /300713369

I'd try vinegar (without metal filings) on some scrap first.
You might have to get a more concentrated vinegar than the "white" sold in grocers to produce your desired effect.
Heck, bottled lemon juice might even work?

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:58 pm 
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DMoening wrote:
I have inadvertently found that in the dog days of my Sacramento summer that I can produce perspiration that when dropped onto oak that it weathers into a dark gray quite nicely.
However, as the temperatures have dropped down into the 90s it might take longer to gather enough to cover a cabinet.

I have seen advertised (but have no experience with) a Varathane product for a "weathered wood accelerator":
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Varathane-1- ... /300713369

I'd try vinegar (without metal filings) on some scrap first.
You might have to get a more concentrated vinegar than the "white" sold in grocers to produce your desired effect.
Heck, bottled lemon juice might even work?


Lol Dan, thanks. :D Your story reminds me of when I was installing an oak floor years ago. Same thing happened, and it didn't sand out easily. I had to learn to control that... :thumbup:


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 3:16 pm 
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Thanks for the links you guys. I'm looking through them right now.

PS Dan, I'll experiment with vinegar and lemon juice too.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 5:51 pm 
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From the sounds of Don's reply, a simple saline solution might be worth experimenting with as well. I know oxalic acid works as a wood bleach but not sure if it would produce the weathered gray look you're wanting.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 6:27 pm 
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DennisS wrote:
From the sounds of Don's reply, a simple saline solution might be worth experimenting with as well. I know oxalic acid works as a wood bleach but not sure if it would produce the weathered gray look you're wanting.


Right on Dennis, I'll try saline too then..

I dunno about the oxalic acid, but I intend to try some bleach water too.

In my searches, I found a few different things to try;
-Baking Soda and water
-Ammonia
-Vinegar
-Bleach

- and this one was the most interesting one of all... Cement! It sounds crazy, but I think it might actually work. I've seen the stain that cement leaves on wood plenty of times..

I'll have plenty of big scraps of ply to experiment on. This is gonna be interesting.. I never tried to turn wood silver before...

All the nosing will be solid wood, so I'm gonna experiment with the pressure washer to make it look weathered. I never tried it on Oak, but I know it works real well on Teak and Douglas fir. It works particularly well on Douglas fir. I can make a 6x6 look like an old weathered piece from a dock, and it doesn't take long at all.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 6:37 pm 
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PS.... if there's a different species that's easier to turn grey, I'm all ears.

I originally thought of Oak because of the coarse grain, and the reasonable price. But I didn't buy anything yet, so that's open to change.

There's an old Teak bench that I built about 15 years ago, and it's all silver now. The goal is to get as close as possible to that look, but Teak is pretty expensive.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 6:54 pm 
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hmmm, I guess I can't upload a pic directly to the site here.

I used to use photoBucket, but they became worthless. I guess I'll have to find a new hosting site for pics...


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:22 pm 
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JIM2: What would happen if you thinned out liquid black shoe polish or India ink with a thinner ie water or alky and foam brushed it onto the oak? After correct color, then coat with a film finish. For the record how much surface do you need to go grey?

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:59 pm 
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newtooth wrote:
JIM2: What would happen if you thinned out liquid black shoe polish or India ink with a thinner ie water or alky and foam brushed it onto the oak? After correct color, then coat with a film finish. For the record how much surface do you need to go grey?


That's a good question newtooth, I don't know the answer to that one..

The project will be about 39Hx72Wx27D. It's about three pieces of plywood (maybe four pieces), and I expect to have plenty of big scraps to experiment with.

I have various different tints that I could experiment with, but I hope to be able to get the wood pretty close to the color without any of that. It won't be the same if I do it with stain. I'm pretty sure that the color would come out "too rich".

But if I don't find a good method, "plan B" is to just use a semi-transparent stain.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:52 am 
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Quote:
and this one was the most interesting one of all... Cement!


Hmmm. That's odd. Most of the techniques I've heard about utilize solutions that are acidic in nature ... vinegar, lemon juice, perspiration etc.
Cement contains lime, which is highly alkaline ... the very opposite end of the pH scale.

I suspect the gray stain you see left from concrete forms is the wash or slurry from the original pour rather than a chemical change in the wood.
That stuff sticks to everything.

Personally, I'd stick with something that offers an "in the wood" change to reproduce the effect you're after ... rather than relying on an "on the wood" solution such as stain/paint etc.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:24 pm 
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I've been a bit curious about the fesiability regarding aging oak due to this thread.
The following is a very unscientific experiment.
Use and follow all the warnings and precautions provided.

I rummaged through my previous projects test boards and found a couple possible options.
Image

Left to right:
Bicromate of Potash - it's used by furniture restores and I had some inherited from my father.
Lye - extremely hazardous, use at your own risk. I've used it in a dilute state before to turn Cherry a wonderful deep red.
Metal Etch - it's an acid so thought it might work.
Barkeepers Friend - this is Oxalic Acid ... it's a bleach.
Lemon Juice concentrate - no idea what the pH is.
White Vinegar - 5%
Apple Cider Vinegar - 5% ... in case something else in the ingredients might be effective

I soaked each section with a small wadded up paper towel, then allowed to dry for ~45 minutes.
The section with Lye changed immediately, as did the Bicromate of Potash
Image

A closer look reveals that the section with Lye is a greenish gray, the Bicromate of Potash turned the oak a wonderful deep brown.
The Oxalic Acid and vinegars did as expected - they bleached the wood.
Image

In conclusion, I think you could find a dilute solution of lye that would provide the level of grayness desired to approximate a "weathered wood" appearance.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:47 pm 
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Hey Guys,

I've come to this thread late because I was away on holiday.
Grey is one thing, old is another. Both lye and oxalic acid will create grey oak. The lye immediately, the oxalic acid requires a brief exposure to sunlight. After exposure to sunlight, the oxalic treated oak will be a lighter shade of grey.

As I said, grey is one thing but old is another. If you produce a uniform grey appearance, the piece just looks grey, not old. The effects of age also include wear, and staining. Sanding down edges in areas where high use would be expected, and staining inside corners and around fittings helps to make the piece look like it's been around the block a few times.

I've aged pieces in the same progression that they would age normally, that is, finish the piece, abuse the piece then restore the piece. Removing the finish, staining and removing the stains by bleaching has worked for me.

Cheers,
Tom

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:47 pm 
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tms wrote:
...grey is one thing but old is another. If you produce a uniform grey appearance, the piece just looks grey, not old. The effects of age also include wear, and staining. ...

Cheers,
Tom


Thanks Tom, and thanks for the insight about oxalic acid too. I didn't know about the importance of sunlight with that..

For this cabinet, I don't exactly have to make it look old. And since it's gonna be mostly plywood, I won't be able to distress it too much anyway... But I will be using solid wood for all the nosing, so I'm thinking about using a pressure washer to make those pieces look slightly weathered.

It sounds like you've done this plenty times. Are there any other species that are easier to get the nice silver-grey color?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:06 pm 
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DMoening wrote:
I've been a bit curious about the fesiability regarding aging oak due to this thread.
The following is a very unscientific experiment.
Use and follow all the warnings and precautions provided.

I rummaged through my previous projects test boards and found a couple possible options.
Image

Left to right:
Bicromate of Potash - it's used by furniture restores and I had some inherited from my father.
Lye - extremely hazardous, use at your own risk. I've used it in a dilute state before to turn Cherry a wonderful deep red.
Metal Etch - it's an acid so thought it might work.
Barkeepers Friend - this is Oxalic Acid ... it's a bleach.
Lemon Juice concentrate - no idea what the pH is.
White Vinegar - 5%
Apple Cider Vinegar - 5% ... in case something else in the ingredients might be effective

I soaked each section with a small wadded up paper towel, then allowed to dry for ~45 minutes.
The section with Lye changed immediately, as did the Bicromate of Potash
Image

A closer look reveals that the section with Lye is a greenish gray, the Bicromate of Potash turned the oak a wonderful deep brown.
The Oxalic Acid and vinegars did as expected - they bleached the wood.
Image

In conclusion, I think you could find a dilute solution of lye that would provide the level of grayness desired to approximate a "weathered wood" appearance.


That's awesome Dan, many thanks for doing those tests! :D :thumbup:

That lye solution looks a little risky. "Too much color". You suggested a thinner solution, but, what was the mix you used there?

From your pictures, it looks like the "Barkeeper's Friend" did the best job of bleaching the wood. If I can get it that pale, it should be easy to put a light silver/grey stain over it. I think the key will be to get all the golden color out of the oak before the stain.

I was looking up "BarKeepers Friend", and I see that oxalic acid is the key ingredient. I was surprised to see that there's no bleach in it.. I never saw that brand in the store, but it looks like it's available around here. I usually use "Comet" for that kind of cleaning.

I have a little bit of muriatic acid. I wonder what that will do?

But anyways, thanks again for those pics, I really appreciate it! :-D


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:14 pm 
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here's that old teak bench I was talking about...


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:22 pm 
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DMoening wrote:
Quote:
and this one was the most interesting one of all... Cement!


Hmmm. That's odd. Most of the techniques I've heard about utilize solutions that are acidic in nature ... vinegar, lemon juice, perspiration etc.
Cement contains lime, which is highly alkaline ... the very opposite end of the pH scale.

I suspect the gray stain you see left from concrete forms is the wash or slurry from the original pour rather than a chemical change in the wood.
That stuff sticks to everything.

Personally, I'd stick with something that offers an "in the wood" change to reproduce the effect you're after ... rather than relying on an "on the wood" solution such as stain/paint etc.


PS Dan, thanks for the insight about cement too. I didn't know those details, but it makes sense :thumbup:


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:54 pm 
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Hey Jim,

Stay away from the muriatic acid, that's an archaic name for hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is a very strong mineral acid whereas oxalic acid is a relatively weak organic acid (found in asparagus).

The lime in cement will produce a dark grey color, similar to that produced by milk paint which also contains lime. Here's a recent article on that technique.

When I stain oak for aging, I use iron water which will produce a dark grey green color trending to black. I then remove the stain by bleaching with oxalic acid.

Cheers,
Tom

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:48 pm 
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tms wrote:
Hey Jim,

Stay away from the muriatic acid, that's an archaic name for hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is a very strong mineral acid whereas oxalic acid is a relatively weak organic acid (found in asparagus).

The lime in cement will produce a dark grey color, similar to that produced by milk paint which also contains lime. Here's a recent article on that technique.

When I stain oak for aging, I use iron water which will produce a dark grey green color trending to black. I then remove the stain by bleaching with oxalic acid.

Cheers,
Tom


Thanks again Tom. ... I had a feeling that the muriatic acid wouldn't do much.. I know it only attacks cement.. I was just curious if I should try it.

I was looking up oxalic acid, and I found that parsley and scallions have a high content of it... And I just happen know someone who has plenty of that stuff growing right now! I'm sure it will be easier to just buy it, but, do you know any tricks for extracting it straight from the plants?

I guess I can always google it. Just wondering if you ever tried it?


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