I’m sure most of you have seen on Pinterest or Google some amazing home-made stain processes. I always look something up that interests me and put my own twist on it or try to. I’m sure my method has been done by many before so it’s probably not unique to me.
First get a large glass jar with a lid that will seal. I just used one of my canning jars and lid. Fill three-quarters full with vinegar and add one round of fine steel wool. I use Bull Dog, however the dollar store or no name brands work too but will have different results. I also put in about a dozen pennies and a tea bag, (I’ve used coffee before too). Don’t be afraid to experiment. On these ballet boards I used a green tea bag and a pomegranate tea bag. I let it sit on my counter for three days and then strained it twice to get any fibers out of it. I strain because I will have enough to reuse. The longer it sits the more the steel wool will dissolve and the harder it will be to strain the fibers out. I know there are a lot of methods that you can make it in hours but I find the longer it sits the richer the stain and enhances the wood grain. It’s just a personal preference.
With pallet wood you can get some surprising results as you can see by the variation in color of the boards. I used the exact same stain on all four of these. The wood is probably not the same but to me it doesn’t matter because I will stain a bunch at a time and then pick out the pieces I want for my project and the others I save for another one. My hubby, bless his heart, cuts down the pallets for me and I just pick out the wood and stain away.
What is nice about using vinegar stain on pallet wood is that it will also disinfect to a certain degree so you don’t have to do a bleach wash or an additional step to prepare your wood. I just pick my planks give them a good sanding with 60 or 80 grit, brush and wipe off the debris from sanding and stain my pieces.