In this episode of Dwell Made, Ben Uyeda of HomeMade Modern makes his own ebonizing stain out of steel wool and vinegar, and then turns an oak stair tread into a stylish bench by adding hairpin legs. This is a simple DIY bench that would make ideal seating at a dining table, or serve as a place to take shoes off in an entryway or mudroom.
Step 1: Make the Ebonizing Stain
I tore up some pieces of steel wool and placed them in a jar before pouring distilled white vinegar over the top. I let this mixture sit for one week.
Step 2: Trim the Oak Stair Tread
I bought a solid oak stair tread from Home Depot. One of the edges is rounded over, so I clamped it down to saw horses and used my circular saw to trim off the rounded edge.
Step 3: Sand the Oak
I used 150 grit sand paper to smooth down the oak.
Step 4: Apply the Stain
After sitting for a week, the steel wool had started to rust and oxidize in the vinegar. I used a foam brush to spread this mixture onto the oak. The oak immediately started to turn black.
Step 5: Prepare the Wood for Sealing
The wood looked a bit reddish in color after the stain had dried. This is from the rust particles in the stain. I used a clean, damp rag to wipe off the wood and remove this dust and red tint. I let the wood dry and then used 220 grit sand paper to very lightly sand the wood grain that had been raised by the stain and damp rag.
Step 6: Seal the Oak
I want the grain of the oak to show, but I also want to protect the wood, so I used Minwax Wipe-On Poly in satin. I can apply this in thin coats with a clean rag, and the wood will be sealed, but I can steel see and feel the grain. I made sure to wipe off all dust with a clean rag before pouring some of the poly on a clean rag and rubbing it into the wood.
Step 7: Add Hairpin Legs
I screwed some 16" hairpin legs to the underside of the oak using ¾" pan head screws.
If you don’t have a drill or a circular saw, you can just leave the rounded edge and use screw-on legs from Floyd.
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