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I Forge Iron

Vinegar/steel wool mix for curly maple?


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It is an old traditional method... so I imagine that more than a few have done it. If you want the orange stain that was used on the old flintlock stocks you also have to heat it after applying the iron solution. Nails are even better than steel wool as the steel wool has a lot of oil on it (just takes a bit longer to get the solution saturated with nails). Apply the iron solution and then heat the wood with a torch or heat gun (heat sources in the old days were more likely to be candles or lamps or firebrands). You will see the color change as the iron rusts. It is a lovely finish for curly maple! You can use any topcoat. Traditionally it would have been oil finished, but modern acrylics and varnishes can be just as nice and more durable.

Edited by bigfootnampa
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  • 3 weeks later...

I can see how it might work nicely on cherry... although it seems superfluous as cherry will get pretty dark on it's own if you let it see some sunlight. When I carve cherry spoons I coat them with walnut oil and use the truck dash to sunbake them for a few days and then recoat and rebake... in a month or so they get awesome color with no chemicals or dyes at all (only works with the heartwood though).

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Try steel filings or dust from bandsaw cuttings. It is smaller than nails but with more surface area so dissolves quicker. You can burn off the oil without oxidizing the steel as badly as steel wool. My old roommate did this on a gun stock. it was like small star bursts with the iron dust in the finish


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  • 2 months later...

I've used aqua fortis to stain maple. Aqua fortis is nitric acid that's been saturated with iron filings (or steel wool, I guess). It turns a bright, xxxx yellow color; after you apply it to the maple, you have to heat (slowly!) the wood over a forge or with a torch until you get to the darkness you want. After that ,you neutralize (I use baking soda and water), and then finish (I use beeswax and linseed oil). Here's some pictures of the resulting finish: http://www.rhinometa...s.com/hawk.html . Hard to see in the photo, but it produces a really nice chatoyance.

If making aqua fortis is too much trouble, you can buy it from Track of the Wolf (a muzzle loader site): http://www.trackofth...=66&styleID=225 .

Hope this helps.

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