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Monday, September 2, 2013

Never give up! Natural wood staining solutions

Happy Labor Day!  This is for all you do-it-yourself project bosses.  (And sorry I've been out - I had a vaycaycay without internet connection.)

Ello, daaahlings!  I was trying to decide what to call this post - something about almost dying or something about wood.  The story it is inspired by contains both, and no, I didn't almost saw my hand off (this time, anyway).

The world of wood stains is vast, crazy and...toxic.  Have you ever tried to find something at the store to stain wood?  Have you ever read their labels?  If you haven't, it looks like this: Warning - Toxic.  You're Gonna Die.  Contains Poison and Death.

But I was desperate!

The offsprings have had access to this little window ledge since they were wee tots toddling along, scratching every type of Matchbox, Hot Wheel and the like across it and varying speeds and velocities.  Now if it were just that, it would be one thing, but alas, no, the dog (and the previous dog) thought that it would be a perfect location for propping up front paws on to look out the window to bark and howl at every passing person, dog, squirrel, leaf and blow of wind.  This has left this once pristine piece of wood in a state of utter disrepair.  It looks as if I've had an angry cat/velociraptor who just couldn't resist scratching the spot to death.  It was covered in ugly scratches.


What to do?

I decided it would be simple to just sand it down and restain it.

Simple is not the word.  Let's go with horrid and impossible.

It began all right.  I got some sandpaper and worked on that puppy for two hours until even the sweat on my head was intermingled with sawdust.  Oh, what a lovely exfoliator.  What a myriad of benefits, indeed.

Then it was time to give the stains a try.  One was called "honey" and the other was called something else that depicted something light colored.  I can absolutely assure you that these were not even related to anything light colored whatsoever.  They ought to have been called something like "Deep Mud" or "Spilled Coffee".  I put a test spot on my newly-sanded wood and stepped back to see how it blended with the rest of everything.  It looked exactly like I was purposely trying to ruin it more.  It was great.

Now this would have been just fun as it was, but WAIT, THERE'S MORE!  Yes.  Included in this nightmare of totally ruining the wood was the added benefit of neurotoxins!  I began feeling a little woozy and then slightly confused...and then my jaw began to involuntarily tremble and shut on its own.  Yes, I did have the windows open.  I had a fan on to blast the stink air out of the window, but still, I was having quite a bad reaction.  I decided that this weird reaction was just going to get worse if I stuck around and played with the extra cool Dirtbag Coffee color so I packed it up and decided to return it.

I walked around the hardware store with my offsprings.  I didn't know what else to get.  Maybe a clear stain?  Maybe water-based would be better?  But they still have this long list of junk in it and what am I gonna do if I get lockjaw again?  I was slumping around, dismayed and distressed when all of a sudden, my offspring said something.

"Mom," said offspring, "You know what to do.  You KNOW it.  You gotta go home, get on the internet and you've gotta figure it out for yourself and make something at home.  THAT'S how you do it, Mom.  Do NOT give up!"

"Child," said I, "But this stuff is like paint!  I don't think you can make it at home."

"Come on, Mom.  You can.  Just try."

Offspring was right.  Dude.  You can totally do it at home.  I started looking it up and people make stains with plenty of household items.  You can use tea, cocoa, and myriads of things.  If you want to make it darker, you can make up something to deepen the color by putting some steel wool into a jar of vinegar.  It breaks down the steel wool and makes the color ten times darker.  All without lockjaw.

I wasn't looking for something so deeply colored, I wanted a lighter stain.  I happened upon a guy who built a hanging rack and who stained it himself.  It was exactly the color I wanted.  He made a paste of beeswax and some olive oil - and all of a sudden, I rejoiced.  I went from being near depressed (with lockjaw) to elated.  Crunchy Betty had a recipe for wood wax that was just that!  What if it worked?  I ran to the cuboard and pulled it out (you want this recipe, trust me: ).  

It WORKED.  Perfectly and exactly.  Glory hallelujah!

Next time, listen to the kid.  You can do it!

Peace, love and skip the lockjaw,
Ms. Daisy

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