Anyone for Tea?
Low-tech dye adds subtle age and won't blotch
Synopsis: Sean Clarke shows how ordinary tea can be used as an effective stain on woods such as pine, maple, and oak. This natural product imparts a warm, aged color without blotching. Learn how to brew it, brush it, and seal it in for the best look.
From Fine Woodworking #207
You may have heard of food-safe finishes, but how many finishes are safe as food? My guess is not many. There is one such product lurking in the kitchen. The humble teabag not only revives me after a long day in the shop, but it also serves as an inexpensive, easily available, and environmentally friendly dye.
Tea imparts an attractive warm, golden color that can be built up with additional coats with no loss of clarity. I’ve found that white oak, maple (both regular and tiger), and pine all benefit from this dye. It is particularly useful on pine, a wood prone to blotching, since the weak consistency and finer color particles of the tea stain tend not to collect in the blotch-prone areas.
Brew it, brush it, seal it in: The color and density produced by different brands of tea varies significantly, so do a little experimenting on sample boards first. I have tried different brands and blends (as dyes and drinks), including Lipton, Royal World Indian green tea, Tetley’s British Blend, and PG Tips. While green tea produces too weak a dye, my favorite brew is to combine 12 oz. of hot water and six PG Tips tea bags in a plastic container and allow it to sit overnight.
Sand all the surfaces at P150-grit followed with P220-grit paper. To raise the grain before the application of the waterbased dye, wet the surface with distilled water, allow two to four hours of drying time, and then resand…