Introduction: Forcibly Aging Wood

Picture of Forcibly Aging Wood

Do you like the look of old, weathered wood but just don't have the 10 years to wait? Do it quickly with simple household items; don't wait, do it now!

- Black Tea
- Vinegar
- A brush
- some steel (steel wool, old rusty nails....)

(*the comic above is awful)

Step 1: Mix Yourself a Rusty Nail.

Picture of Mix Yourself a Rusty Nail.

To start with, pour the vinegar into a container over your steel wool or rusty nails (whatever steel you have which will rust).
Allow it to sit for about a day while you do the next step.

Delicious looking, no?

Step 2: Brew Some Black Tea.

Picture of Brew Some Black Tea.

Brew some black tea or use some old tea, which you forgot to drink, and then brush it onto your wood.

The tea will darken the wood a bit, giving it a nice golden color, but there is still one step to go. 

Allow it to dry completely.

Step 3: I'll Have My Rusty Nail on the Blocks.

Picture of I'll Have My Rusty Nail on the Blocks.

Day 2: Your Rusty Nail has been sitting for a day and the tea has dried on your wood now your ready for the final step.

Take your brush again and brush your Vinegar/steel mixture over the wood. The tannin will react with the vinegar/steel mixture to oxidize the wood turning it grey before your eyes.

Now you can have that old wood look without that pesky old wood waiting. 

If your wood doesn't look as old as you were hoping, repeat the steps.


sing_anyway (author)2013-01-21

I love this idea. I wasn't actually looking for how to do this, I just enjoyed your other ibles and was checking out the rest. I love your sense of humor even in the step titles, thanks for making stuff I wasn't even looking for both fun and interesting!

Thank you so much!

lazyoaks (author)2013-01-19

Thanks for this idea, I'll be using this one for sure

Dr. P (author)2013-01-09

No, the comic is excellent! So is the idea. I'm gonna use this...

pete.hohensee (author)2016-05-28

You could use a proofreader.

xxlauraxx (author)2016-04-28

Hahaha! Oh man, your graphics are hilarious.

Also, nice wood aging technique. :)

DaleR7 (author)2015-08-23

Does anyone have any ideas as to what I may be doing wrong? I have tried to age new wood using tea and vinegar with rusty nails and tea with vinegar and steel wool. I have used it on oak, pine and cedar and the ONLY color I get is brown!! How do I get a gray color? I would really appreciate any advice......thanks!

theunartist (author)DaleR72015-08-29

The longer you soak rusty nails/steel wool the darker the result will be. The vinegar can be used after a day and does not need to change color. Also, you can try omitting the black tea and go straight with the vinegar and rusty nail solution. This is an oxidation process and not a coloring/dye/staining process...

SeveI (author)2015-04-21

Does the kind of vinegar matter?

Does the steel have to be rusty already?

We used distilled vinegar and steel wool (both brand new) and 36 hours later the vinegar is still clear. Is that ok? Will it work?

Gonna try it anyway

SeveI (author)SeveI2015-04-22

Works just fine! Thank you!

MEMJIM (author)2015-04-16

This is exactly what i needed. I have a project in mind knew i would need this know-how. thank you so much. Ill post my completion & give any/all namely credit. jk

LexiC1 (author)2015-03-10

does it matter what type of wood? i want to make industrial style shelving but have no idea which is the best timber to choose???

marc.sustins (author)2014-11-24

How well do you think would work with this. Top is different wood

wonderbrett (author)2014-10-07

Love the header image.

Al Lamaj (author)2014-08-07

for a wonderful and easy way to get an aged look on all types of wood, you can use the Eco Safe wood treatment available from Not only provides an Eco friendly wood protection but also changes all types of wood, with one treatment, to give a graceful silvery grey patina finish to the wood. Pace of the change to the wood varies from hours to a few days depending on the type of wood. Hope that this is useful for some of your readers.

jeremiah.barnett.37 (author)2014-07-30

Adding Hydrogen Peroxide will speed up the rusting process significantly

kpomerleau (author)2014-06-21

Great job and thanks for the tip.

explosivemaker (author)2013-05-07

No before and after?

antioch (author)2013-03-02

I find the comic very unsettling and discriminating towards young wood. It encourages violating it even against it's explicit wish. Please censor the critical sections.

LifeWarrior (author)2013-01-24

Nice trick, have to give this a try with my firing technique, see what kind of rich grain aged wood look I can get, Very cool thanks for posting

bajablue (author)2013-01-12

Bleach and water ages wood beautifully, too. I also like how you aged the nails.

Great work! (and the comic is too cute!)

But bleach and water will give the wood a look as if it had been sitting out in the sun for a long time, yes? Thanks!

Bleach + water, versus vinegar + iron oxide. Bleach has eaten away my wood before, certainly it was too strong. Will the vinegar eat it away also, or is the vinegar less harsh?

Bleech eats any organic materials down to nothing. The vinegar is already diluted so it will age the wood but not eat it away; it just allows the wood to oxidize as it does naturally with age.

Straight bleach, yes. Diluted bleach, NO. And it works a LOT FASTER than vinegar.

bajablue (author)DIY-Guy2013-01-19

If the bleach ate away at your wood, you didn't dilute the bleach solution enough.

Yes. ;-)

BG_instructs (author)2013-01-15

Great, i registered because of this...

Just a question; what is the wood, is that pine?

Did you ever try it on oak?

Thanks, yes your commic is bad, only the last scene reveals some talent :-)

Yes, that wood is pine, different woods age differently and so you will get a different look from oak. I expect you would end up with a warm grey using this on oak.

warehouse32 (author)2013-01-11

This is surprisingly simple...great for a quick project!

Winged Fist (author)2013-01-09

Love the comic and the cocktail... Can't wait to see the whole tiki-bar;-)

artworker (author)2013-01-08

Interesting! will have to try this.

About This Instructable




Bio: Justin Tyler Tate is an artist, designer, animator, teacher, jeweler and maker/hacker who produces with thoughts of culture, science and interactivity.
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