Q: I am trying to ebonize an oak table. I applied a solution of vinegar and steel wool to a sample board, but that turned the oak bright purple. I then applied a water-based black aniline dye. The oak turned a dull green. What have I done wrong, and what can I do to correct the color? Bob Black, Bellaire, TX A: Don’t judge the color of a chemical stain or dye until you have applied several coats of finish, because the finish usually changes or deepens the color. Apply an oil-based black stain (Minwax 2718) to even out the color. Dye first. Use a water-based black dye as the base color. Then apply an amber-colored finish such as shellac, lacquer, or an oil-based polyurethane. The finish will counteract the green and purple hues caused by the chemical stain. Stain second. An oil-based black pigment stain (Minwax 2718) will deepen the color. In the future, skip the chemical stain and just use the dye, pigment stain, and a clear finish coat. From Fine Woodworking #201
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