Ebonized Red Oak, Hand Crafted Frame

Woodworks by John

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Like to share the creation and results of this recent frame I made for my favorite client -- my wife! Some of the other people I make frames for prefer that they're not shared on public boards; why?, I'm not sure. Anyway, this painting is oil on panel and measures 12" x 16". My wife wanted to portray this model as a rough and tumble character, perhaps one with a switch blade in his back pocket! If you look at the palette and brush work she used you'll agree that a nice, gold leafed frame wouldn't compliment it. I decided to make an ebonized frame from Red Oak. The profile was made with a plow plane for the beads and then tablesaw to cut the slight bevel and rabbet. Hand planes were used to smooth out the tablesaw work. When I posted the ebonizing process on my blog it drew lots of attention, so much that I included a short video to illustrate the process: https://woodworksbyjohn.com/2019/12/13/frame-185-ebonized-oak/
If you've never heard of this essentially it's a matter of dissolving oil free steel wool in white vinegar which reacts with the tanins in the Red Oak. Always some variation and this piece came out very black. I prefer this over staining which obscures the grain. The finish is Osmo Polyx oil which is a product I've begun using on my furniture as well, it's replaced my old stand-by of Watco Danish oil which isn't the same since EPA rulings caused them to change the formulation.
To further add that rugged look to the frame I added small clavos around the outside edge between the beads. These came from Jordan and were found on Etsy.
I explained that process in this blog: https://woodworksbyjohn.com/2020/01/04/frame-185-completed-clavos/ Alejandro by Diane Eugster - 1 (1).jpgEbonizedOakDetail - 1.jpg
 
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Woodworks by John

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Funny enough, I'm familiar with that technique through leatherworking, with that the solution is called "vinegaroon". Same principle, the tannins in vegetable tanned leather chemically react to make a black that doesn't stain clothing. That's pretty cool! I've heard some say that any wood that comes from a nut bearing tree has tannins but haven't explored that ---- so many interesting things and limited time!
 

wvframer

Forum Support Team
Staff member
I am old-school and think that the best lessons are those that send me off to learn more on my own. This post reminds me of some of those books I read in school that required that I keep a dictionary next to me. Thank you!
 

Woodworks by John

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I am old-school and think that the best lessons are those that send me off to learn more on my own. This post reminds me of some of those books I read in school that required that I keep a dictionary next to me. Thank you!
I'm taking that as a compliment in spite of my wife telling me I get too technical at time so thanks!! Give it a try, it seems like magic and never 100% sure of how things will turn out. Many years ago I did a similar frame and it tends to go more to a deep brown vs. the awesome black on this one. PS, I'm pretty old school myself, just started my 7th. decade!
 

wvframer

Forum Support Team
Staff member
Well, in about an hour with Google by my side, I learned quite a lot from that post and your blog.

I will be trying this technique, as well as some of the hand work. Like many framers, the bulk of my time is spent with finished moulding and power tools, so it is refreshing to try new-to-me techniques that probably won't be profitable.

I will have to restrain myself from buying some new and expensive tools. This is a beautiful frame and I think getting "too technical" is what elevates work from good to great.
 

Woodworks by John

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
...... so it is refreshing to try new-to-me techniques that probably won't be profitable. True words there W, luckily I'm at a point in life where things don't always need to be profitable and I can enjoy the process. If someone asked me to make a couple dozen of those frames I'd probably decline! In any case, glad I gave you some inspiration and feel free to contact me if you have any questions
 
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