Forcibly Aging Wood





Introduction: Forcibly Aging Wood

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

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.

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.

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.

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.



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    33 Discussions

    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!

    1 reply

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

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

    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!

    2 replies

    add tablespoon of hygrogen peroxide to vinegar mixture

    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...

    You could use a proofreader.

    Hahaha! Oh man, your graphics are hilarious.

    Also, nice wood aging technique. :)

    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

    1 reply

    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

    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???

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

    Love the header image.

    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.

    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.