The hardest part about winter has to be that I can’t go outside and paint, cut wood, and all those other things you can’t do inside (especially with kids). However, I have been locking myself in the basement smelling some fumes because I am desperate! But today, I have a fun little project for you that helps with avoiding those fumes! Did you know you can make your own wood stain with just a few household products? It’s true! I remember doing this with my mom when I was a little girl. My grandfather was a painter and showed us how to do this. I haven’t done it in forever and can’t believe I waited this long!
What you need: (includes some affiliate links)
– Steel wool (I used 000-extra fine grade)
– Distilled White Vinegar
– Instant Coffee
– Quart Size Mason Jar
How to make DIY Wood Stain: (be sure and read my notes at the bottom)
UPDATE: If you are applying to actual wood for a finishing project, you will need to apply several coats until you get the desired darkness! It will not appear very dark until it soaks into the wood. I let the stain dry about 15 minutes between coats. It might not be completely dry, but it worked for me. Once, dry it will look very flat in color. (example here) You will need to seal it with something to get that “wet” look from the stain. It is really is not an exact science, so please test this out before you try it on something important!
First make sure your mason jar is clean. Then you will take out one pad of the steel wool (pictured above). I sort of broke mine up a little so it wasn’t so tight together and then just push it down in your mason jar. Now just fill it up with your vinegar. Don’t fill it up all the way because it does expand a little. You can see how full mine is above, you might even go with a tad bit less if you want. Now the fun part… add in 1 Tablespoon of Instant Coffee. I prefer instant because it dissolves where as regular coffee would leave the grinds in it. That isn’t the end of the world, but you just have to deal with them when you are staining. That’s it! Now you just have to wait!
It needs to sit at least 24 hours, but the longer it sits, the richer the color gets. Then once it sits you are ready to use it. I did let mine sit for about 5 or 6 days before I used it. The color just gets prettier (in my opinion) But totally up to you. Test it out each day, see how you like it. Keep in mind though once you apply it to the wood, you won’t see the final color until it is COMPLETELY dry! It gets a little darker as the days go on. So I have to say, if you are looking for an exact color, this probably isn’t the stain you want. If you are going for a reclaimed look, then this is PERFECT! I will be sharing with you soon how to get a great weathered look using this stain ; )
So let’s see how the color looks….
On the left is Minwax’s Dark Walnut, and the Right is the DIY Wood Stain. I wanted you to be able to see the difference. The DIY Wood Stain has a little bit of a gray tone to it from the steel wool, which is what makes is perfect for making wood look older than it is!
Just a few little side notes:
– you can omit the coffee if you are wanting more of a gray color. This is traditionally how we made it when I was a kid, but I added the coffee for a little bit of a brown color
– this is not an exact science, it is homemade and your results will MOST LIKELY be different every time you make it, so if you are doing a big project, make enough for the whole thing and be sure and apply it at the same time because the stain does change the longer it sits. You could remove the steel wool to try and keep the color the same, but you would have to test this out to see if it works
Want to see how it looks on an actual project? I used this exact stain for my DIY Coat Rack