50 Shades of Grey

The effects of age and weathering on wood even if it has been treated in some way will result in a grey or silver grey colour. Even cedar which is used in north America for tiling roofs often called cedar shakes will eventually turn from golden brown to silver grey over time. A closer inspection of wood ties (sleepers) used on north American railroads shows various shades of grey as the wood dries out and begins to decay. At one time ties had “date nails” driven into them to indicate when they were placed – the earliest I have is 1937…!

leather shoe dye

leather shoe dye

I have used the leather shoe dye and alcohol method of staining wood for years and it always produces a nice natural weather wood look and in my opinion is the perfect staining process that produces a variety of different shades of weathered grey wood. I use a dilution ratio of 1:20 – 1 part black dye to 20 parts Alcohol + 1/2 part of Dark Brown. The┬áBlack dye has a blue tint to it and the Dark Brown just warms it up a bit. The result is a muddy black looking solution that is quite thin.

staining bass wood components

staining bass wood components

I use an aluminium roasting tin the type that is inexpensive from Tesco’s as a bath into which I dump the cut stripwood lengths. Leaving them to soak for various lengths of time – typically 20 to 120 seconds seems to work quite well.

testing staining solution

testing staining solution

It is a good idea to test a strip before you dump the whole load into the bath just in case you don’t like the depth of staining. Remember you can always make it darker by repeating the staining process BUT you can NEVER make it lighter…!

staining the basswood

staining the basswood

I use long tipped tweezers to “pick” the pieces out of the staining bath and place them on drying racks and paper kitchen towel. As the wood dries it turns colour from the overall green look as shown in the photo above to a dark grey colour as shown below.

shades of grey

shades of grey

The finished look is shown below and the “50 Shades of Grey” – which is exactly what you want… no two pieces are identical.

stained components

stained components

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