DIY Decorating - Staining Wood with Vinegar
DIY Chevron Table
I had spent six months looking for the perfect kitchen table that I absolutely loved. When my searches kept coming up empty, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I purchased an INGO kitchen table from Ikea for $69.99. It's small, but so is our kitchen. Most importantly, you can purchase it in unfinished pine-- perfect for this DIY endeavor!
BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT THIS DIY...
Keep in mind that different combinations of wood and vinegar will produce different results. I used unfinished pine and distilled white vinegar for my chevron table DIY. If in doubt, prepare a small stain solution in a baby food jar and test it out on an inconspicuous area (perhaps underneath the table).
The photo below shows the different stain results achieved on the same piece of wood using different vinegars. This was a scrap piece of whitewood lumber I had leftover from building shelves. I purchased it from Lowe's and whitewood is a bit of a generic term that can refer to spruce, hemlock, or fir trees. Keep this is mind when staining whitewood. Two pieces might come out differently.
Distilled white vinegar gave the wood sample on the left more of a reddish/brownish hue. The apple cider vinegar stained the wood on the right more of a grayish color, almost aging it.
You Will Need:
- A piece of furniture (prepped or unfinished)
- Pencil and eraser
- Yardstick or tape measure
- Distilled white vinegar
- A Steel wool pad, grade #0000
- Clean, empty jar & lid
- Painter's Tape or Frog Tape *(see disclaimer in step four)
- Paint brush
- Dry rag
- Clear sealer (for finish)
Step One: Stain Prep
Place a steel wool pad inside the jar and fill with vinegar. Make sure your wool is immersed. Let it sit and do its magic for at least 48 hours. During this time, the vinegar will begin to dissolve the steel wool. Feel free to shake your jar from time to time. The liquid in your jar at the end of this science experiment will be used to stain your wood. It's going to be stinky-- unless you love the smell of vinegar and metal. I'd suggest doing the actual staining project outdoors or near an open window if you can.
Distilled White Vinegar
Step Two: Wood Prep
If you are using unfinished wood like my unfinished pine kitchen table, you can skip this step.
If your piece has any kind of existing paint, lacquer, or sealant, it will need to be removed. Sand your wood thoroughly. It's important that all of the bare wood is exposed for this project or it won't work.
Table Before Stain
Step Three: Sketching Chevrons
My favorite part of this project is that I didn't have to download and print a chevron template.
The following six steps correspond to my diagram below.
1. Simply measure your surface and draw a line vertically through the middle.
2. Repeat this step and draw a line horizontally through the middle. This should yield four quadrants. Repeat this process as many times as you wish. Continue constructing your grid by finding the center of each new section and drawing a line.
3. My table has two rows and four columns, yielding 8 sections. These eight sections allowed me to easily construct two large chevrons side by side. For more and smaller chevrons, continue measuring and drawing a more complex grid.
4. When satisfied with your grid, draw diagonal lines connecting sections. Each individual square should contain a diagonal line and the pattern will alternate between leaning forwards and backwards.
5. Repeat this step for all rows of your grid.
6. Erase your pencil mark grid-lines and you're left with your lovely chevron design.
DIY Chevron without Template
Step Four: Applying Painter's Tape
Using blue painter's tape, tape off your chevrons so they'll really stand out. Line up the edges of your tape alongside your pencil marks. In this tutorial I applied the tape to the outside of my chevrons. Make sure all pieces of tape are rubbed down flat. Use your eraser to remove all pencil marks and grid-lines-- I didn't think of this until much later and I regret it. My pencil lines are still visible :( Learn from my mistake. Don't remove tape until finished staining.
Disclaimer: Despite my best abilities, I did encounter a little bit of seepage (refer to picture below). Overall, I do like the design it created. It gives the finished table little nuances of character. If you'd like to guard against any stain creeping under the tape, I'd suggest trying green Frog tape. It has a special gel that forms a barrier between what's under the tape and what's next to it. I would have used it for this project but I only recently learned about it.
Step Five: Applying Stain
Open your jar of steel wool wood stain and let it sit for about ten minutes. The solution should look murky by now but if for some reason it doesn't look ready yet, it may oxidize just a bit more as it sits uncovered (mine did!).
Apply the DIY wood stain to your furniture in long even strokes, working with the grain of the wood. It may be tempting to work in the direction of your pattern, but working with the grain ensures consistent coverage. It might seem like it's not working at first. Your wood may only appear a slight bit darker... as if it were wet. Keep working until your first coat is complete. Within a few minutes, you'll see the wood darken. Since the results don't happen right before your eyes, it's really important to finish each section or coat to keep your coloring even. Allow to dry in between coats. More coats will create darker colors.
Natural Wood Stain DIY
Step Six: Sanding
Sand paper is a big helper for this DIY table wood stain. You can use it to sand parts that might have come out too dark. You can also use it to buff out any places where stain pooled/dripped and dried into a dark little mess. I used sandpaper to give my table edges and corners a good scrub to expose some of the pine color again. This gives it more contrast and character. Give your entire table a quick sand job to prepare it for sealing. Sand in the same direction as the wood grain. If you prefer a more aged and shabby chic look, use a coarser sand paper and work against the grain and even in circular motions. Use a dry cloth to wipe away any sawdust.
Dining Table Ideas
Step 7: Sealing
Sealing is important. It protects your table from everyday use and makes your beautiful design really shine. Literally. Without sealer, the all natural wood stain looks very drab and muted. By this step, you'll have noticed that there is a big difference between how the table looks each time you apply a fresh coat of stain and how it looks when it's 100% dry. Sealer gives the table that wet shine look. I used a primer/sealer by Martha Stewart and applied three coats. While I used a primer/sealer, it's important you don't use it as a primer on your piece. Absolutely nothing should come between the bare wood and your steel wool stain. I don't mean that figuratively either.
Natural Stain for Wood
© 2013 Heather Lavelle