Elisha Albretsen

What Is Iron Acetate?

Elisha Albretsen
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Duration:   6  mins

Have you ever built a project from new materials, but you wanted to give it an instant patina to make it look like it was 100 years old? Or perhaps you have wanted to give it the look of ebony? You might be able to find commercial products to give your project one of these appearances, but there is a shop-made solution that is quick, simple, and inexpensive.

George and Elisha “The Pneumatic Addict” show an approach for applying these effects to wood. The process involves mixing and applying something called iron acetate. Iron acetate is made by combining some basic ingredients that you probably have in your home and allowing them to sit while the iron acetate forms.

A few things to note about iron acetate:
The finishing effect will vary depending on the composition of the wood. On some wood species, the effect will be the same as applying a stain. Essentially you layer on color, and what you see is what you get. On some species, however, the iron acetate can work with the tannin in the wood to produce a chemical reaction. In some wood species where the tannin level is high, the effect can be dramatic, resulting in an ebony color. White oak is an example of a species that reacts dramatically with iron acetate.

Multiple coats will increase the effect. Just as with applying a traditional wood stain, you can achieve a darker color by applying multiple coats, and you can continue applying the iron acetate until you have achieved the desired effect.

All machining should be complete before applying the iron acetate. The color produced by iron acetate is only at the surface, so you should shape and sand prior to applying.

Add iron acetate to your finishing arsenal and let us know how it goes.

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