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What's a good wood to ebonize for a desk top?

I’m making a loooong table top (11 ft) out of a butcher’s Block. I’m trying to end up with a black tabletop with hints of gray/blue in the tones of the wood, sort of like this chair:

enter image description here

I was told that European Alder is a good, cheap wood that’d take ebonization well with India ink. I would appreciate if someone with more experience could detail the steps needed and advise on the choice of wood.

I was thinking to take butchers block, sand down with 220 grit sandpaper, wipe clean, rub India ink on with cloth. After that what type of finish can I use? Varnish? Waterlox? The table will be used as a computer desk.

Woodworking Asked by Marcel Doe on October 3, 2021

2 Answers

2 Answers

Butcher blocks can be made from any wood although I would recommend a hardwood. Oak, walnut, or maple come to mind. Oak has a pronounced grain and the wood will express more visually. Maple or walnut are more closed grain and should give a more uniform appearance.

I can't speak to the permanence and uniformity of ink, so I would recommend using a dye such as TransFast black powdered dye. There are other dye colors worthy of consideration as well. Dissolve it in denatured alcohol. Water can raise the grain requiring additional sanding which, of course, can re-expose natural wood color, where alcohol will not. Use a test board to determine how concentrated you want the mix and how many coats give you an even finish. The pigments in dyes are much smaller than in stains and allow the natural beauty of the wood grain to be expressed while achieving a deep rich color, where stains actually can hide the grain more.

Your 220 grit sandpaper should be adequate, although you may want to go for a final of 320 and steel wool to finish it off. Use a sanding block or powered sander to insure a flat surface is maintained. If you have access to a paint sprayer you can achieve a better result than with a brush. Although a mix of 1/3 each of linseed oil,, varnish and mineral spirits can be applied with a rag (it may take 3-6 coats to achieve your final finished appearance).

Answered by Ashlar on October 3, 2021

I’ve had really good results with general finishes product enter image description here

Oil based gel stain. Ash will also take an ebony stain well. I’ve also had good luck with alder. Here is a photo of my monitor stand done with ash. This will give you an open grain texture and grain lines will show.

enter image description here

Answered by Son of Fire on October 3, 2021

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