I have always had an affinity for old things. I'm terribly at yoga-style meditation, but find a sort of silence, calm and peace from perusing the aisles of antique and thrift stores in search of secondhand stories. Several years ago, I bought an antique crate from the 1800s. My Dad helped me frame it up and turn it into the most amazing piece of furniture I own.
Alas, with the rise of Pinterest, vintage crates are in high demand these days. (And I can't quite bring myself to budget hundreds of dollars for wooden boxes.) Thankfully, I recently discovered a solution. (Quite literally -- a solution.)
The recipe is simple and uses two items you probably have in your home right now: white vinegar and steel wool. (You can also go further down the exploratory rabbit hole by adding tea bags to the mix.) There are hundreds of posts that share the how/what in great detail (here's a great one), so I'm going to provide the readers digest version.
1. Get something made of wood. In my case, a $10 pine crate from Michael's. You may want to lightly sand to get rid of any sticker goo or waxy coating. 2. Add white vinegar to a sealable jar. 3. Add a puff of steel wool to the vinegar in the jar. 4. Wait 48+ hours. (Longer seems to be better. I forgot about mine, went on vacation and came back two weeks later. Results will vary based on time of "soaking" and type of wood. The photos you're seeing in this post are the product of NO tea and two-week-old stain.) 5. (Optional) Steep some black tea and apply to wood item. The tannins the tea adds to the wood will supposedly alter the color, resulting in a "blacker" look. 6. Tarp off your area. (This stain will stain anything it touches, including concrete!) Apply your stain using a sponge brush.* 7. Marvel at how virgin wood is instantly transformed and takes on the appearance of some marvelous relic that has been hanging out in a barn for the last 80 years.
*I found I achieved the best results when swabbing on semi-haphazardly. You don't want this to look like a perfect paint job. You want it to take on the look of some history. I did a rough swab job, allowed drips to remain, applied additional layers, etc. This is one of those projects that seems to suggest the less strategy, the better the outcome.
Here's where I started...
Here's where I ended up...