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Having received a present of a clock kit, I set about making an ebonised oak clock with gold gilt cream impregnated into the grain. A 10” clock was turned and then sprayed with ebonising lacquer, and when dry, a light application of gilt cream was applied. The gilt was burnished in at high speed to produce what can only be described as a gross misjudgement of finishing technique. It would appear that my spraying technique was somewhat heavy handed, and filled the grain to the exclusion of most of the gilt cream.

Part two of the experiment consisted of removing the gilt cream and the ebonising lacquer with the aid of a carpenter’s scraper and sandpaper. The project was abandoned for a week while a homemade ebonising brew was fermented.

Part three saw the ebonising liquid prepared by placing old steel screws, nails, hinges and fine steel wool into a glass jar and topping up the uncovered jar with white malt vinegar. This mixture was allowed to brew in an open shed for 8 days, giving it the occasional stir, and allowing the odour from the chemical reaction to dissipate. The liquid was then strained off through a coffee filter into another jar ready for use.

Part four was the preparation of the tannin liquid – half a litre of strong tea was brewed using six teabags, to which was added one teaspoonful of tannin powder from my winemaking kit. The result was an extra strong tannin liquid.

After the normal sanding procedure, a generous coat of tannin liquid was painted on, and allowed to dry with the aid of a hot air gun. As it was intended that the gold gilt cream was to be impregnated into the grain, the denibing of the raised grain was achieved using a suede brush with fine brass bristles – working the brush with the grain. The above procedure was repeated before painting on the ebonising liquid. The transformation of the oak to black was immediate. When dry, clean with the suede brush working with the grain.

The final stage was to apply a light coat of gold gilt cream with a soft cloth while the lathe was stopped. Set the lathe at high speed to remove surplus cream with cloth before the cream has time to dry, while at the same time forcing the gilt cream into the grain. Use suede brush to remove excess gilt cream from grain if necessary. Burnish to a light sheen for a satisfying result.

Bob Dier.