How to Dye Wood Using Natural Ingredients in 5 Steps




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Did you know you can dye wood?! This is not staining. Stains lie on top of the wood, whereas dyes absorb into the wood. Dyes can be made naturally with most water soluble materials. Tea, coffee, nut husks (walnut looks great), tobacco, and herbs are all great options to explore if you want to create your own dye. Coffee is inbetween. Stains are much more resistant to weather and other conditions, but dyes can be made naturally, cheaply, and still produce a beautiful color. For my project, I am replacing the metal scales of my straight razor with wood ones I made out of some kindling. I used cinnamon tea and coffee to achieve my color. Coffee gives my project that rich color as it does not absorb as much into the wood.

To get started you will need:

- Your wood project sanded and ready

- Vinegar (white or apple)

- Steel Wool

- Foam Brush

- Tea, Coffee, Nut husks, Tobacco, or Herbs

- Cup or Jar

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Step 1: Create Your Color

1. First, you will create a dark black dye using a full cup of vinegar with half a roll of steel wool. Just tear apart the wool and submerge it fully into the vinegar. I am using apple vinegar because I like the color.

2. Let your dye sit for 5 to 7 days. Stir your dye once a day. The dye should darken day to day.

3. Brew your tea, coffee, nut husks, tobacco, or herbs. It is a good idea to make a few cups depending on the amount of dye you need for your project.

4. Add in your dark steel wool dye as necessary to achieve the color you are looking for. Keep in mind you will apply more than one coat once you have your color right, so it shouldn't be too dark. For my project, I used equal parts cinnamon tea, coffee, and steel wool dye. I applied 5 coats and 2 clear coat finishes.

5. Apply your coats with a foam brush. Give time for each coat to dry in between coats.


- You can sand in between dyeing coats.

- A clearcoat will help preserve your color. This is a good idea.

Step 2: Other Projects

Here are some other older projects that have held up over the years. These two hammers were dyed over 4 years ago using different methods. The one on the left, pomegranate and coffee. The one on the right; Lipton iced tea.

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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    lipton icetea? did you mixed steel wool dye also? wow, i am surprised! i tried jar for a really dark tone. i want a lighter tone for next project! your ace on the right look so lovely!


    3 years ago

    It's pretty useful to know how to dye things with natural materials, thank you!


    3 years ago

    Have you experimented with ebonizing wood? You use rusty steel wool in vinegar to make a solution of acetic acid. It'll turn the wood jet black in one step.


    3 years ago

    is ritch a misspelling or an artist term I know nothing about


    3 years ago

    It is also possible to bleach wood to make it lighter or remove stains. I wonder if you could use something like a calligraphy pen and write on the dye to make designs. That would be interesting to try. Probably be a challenge to keep it from bleeding outside the lines.


    3 years ago

    Eye of Newt, tooth of bat, skin of toad; just love the old standby formulations, they never loose the "from the ground up" appeal. ☺