Staining Wood With Wodka & Walnuts




About: I made a beer mug with only a knife and a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

This year is going to be The Year Of The Walnut.

It's been, already, The Year Of The Cherries - never I've seen so many cherries on one tree, the trunks sunk almost one meter in the ground. No kidding.

It's also been The Year Without Meat, The Year With The Big Beer Compensation & The Year Of The Biggest Hangover Ever. In that order.

Whatever. We have so many nuts this year that there's going to be a serious risk for Earth Rotation Deviation, and since I'm seriously concerned about the earths well being, I've started to gather some nuts prematurely.

I made my first walnut stain.

I know, it's very well known, it's very easy, but for the welfare of us all it's also very necessary.

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Step 1: Gather & Demolish

Gather some nuts, put them in a plastic bag and smash them to tiny pieces.

A wooden hammer can be helpful.

Or a cat - but beware of those claws, they can perforate the plastic easily.

Better is a small dog, in fact.

Or the jawbone of a water buffallo - depending on the region where you live.

Step 2: Mix With Wodka & Wait

Put that walnut mash in an empty bottle - it's better to give too much advice than not enough - and add some kind of alcohol.

Vodka is great, but so is pure ethanol, methanol or whateveranol - just see what you can get, depending on the region where you live.

Step 3: No Finickin'

Close the bottle & wait one day.

Or a few days.

Poor the blackish liquid in a glass & start staining.

Of course waiting more days may be an option.

Of course filtering may be another option.

Of course using only the husks may also be an option.

Of course using only the husks of mature nuts may be the Ultimate Option.

But of course, I used the whole.

I didn't wait & I didn't filter. No finickin', as always.

I gave it one shot, two, four, seven, a dozen.

And I became a fan of this homemade product.

I don't know it yet - I used 'cleaning alcohol' - but I'm sure that the vodka version might be the first stain you actually can drink. Really.

The results? Look at those pics & judge.

I tested it on a reinforced poplar cutting board since I wanted a very clear wood to see the effect of the staining at full potential.

It's like a kind of olive by now, due to the amount of chlorophyl that's still in the mixture, but I'm sure the greenish will greyish.

Simply beautiful, and so it's a go for me. Definitely.

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    56 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 3

    I'm with Krezlord. Do you write? I can't tolerate most modern writers' style or lack thereof. To read something with panache even as short as this is refreshing. Also with Kretzlord on the black walnuts. I have a few of these trees lobbing tennis-ball-sized fruit at us every year. Only a few squirrels seem to think it's worth the bother to get at the nut. So they sit and rot. But not anymore! Thank you!

    2 replies

    Thanx a lot! I'm not a writer, if it's that what you mean, I'm just a non-conformist craftsman...

    Good luck with those nuts, thanx to us not a single clear wood plank won't be safe anymore. This world needs walnuts, definitively.


    4 years ago



    Reply 4 years ago

    yeah, if you make it with whole black walnuts and vodka, you made rat poison. Literally. Alcohol is great for pulling the 'essence' out of fruits and nuts - you can make dyes / stains out of almost anything, but you'd be surprised how many things also make poison that way. Don't drink stains - natural stains are often more toxic than commercial chemical stuff. Otherwise, great post. Making your own stains is a lost art, and it's so easy. Just stick to commercial non-toxic stuff if you need non-toxic, like making kid's toys.

    I think a more economical ingredient would be Methyl Hydrate (Wood Alcohol). Vodka is too expensive and (obviously, so I'm told) can be drunk. DON'T drink wood alcohol. It's very similar to drinkin' alcohol but it can kill or blind with one or repeated ingestions. Vodka can do the same but it usually takes a decade or two.


    4 years ago on Step 3

    drinking the walnut wodka probably wouldn't hurt a person, black walnut as mentioned in the comments contains juglone, which kills parasites, and has been used in folk medicine for exactly that. Also Black walnut may be one of the only land based sources for iodine, so it could be that you've created a nutrient drink! Everything in moderation, of course... (right?)


    4 years ago

    lovely stain....beware the yellow fingers...I can only speak for handling the black walnut, but the hulls will stain just about anything they contact...wear gloves and your painting clothes.

    ;D Try to get in contact with some woodworkers around you - especially the older ones - because they've surely a lot of knowledge to share! Just don't forget to take a bottle of Kukuri Rum with you to get their lips loose ;D


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Well written, as always. Thanks for sharing

    I've got a black walnut tree in my back yard and due to the drought that we've had here in the normally damp PNW, it is already shedding leaves and nuts. Looks like I have a potential use for those "droppings." ;)