How to Finish Reconstituted Ebony Veneer

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In my opinion, Ebony is probably one of the most beautiful hardwoods on earth. There’s nothing like the dark brown and black grain pattern. This makes it excellent for using in modern furniture design. That being said, it is extremely expensive so most pieces use Ebony veneer which is also quite expensive. A 4’x8′ paper backed veneer sheet can easily go for close to $400. So on my last project, I decided to use the next best thing, reconstituted Ebony veneer which is 1/4 the price.   If you aren’t familiar with reconstituted veneer, it is basically a less expensive wood that is faux finished to look like whatever type of wood it is imitating, in this case Ebony. Since it’s real wood, it can be stained and polyed just like any other wood.  Since it’s an “imitation” product, it’s not nearly as beautiful as the real thing so it needs a little bit of help to get it looking like the real thing. Here’s a good technique to getting that reconstituted Ebony veneer looking close to the real thing.

As you can see in this picture, the reconstituted stuff does not have the same coloring as the real stuff. The brown streaks are more of a tan and not nearly as dark as the real thing. It also lacks some of the depth as the real thing.   Even when polyed, it does not look any where near as good as the real stuff. To get it there, we need to darken just a tad.  Of course, this is personal preference so you can make it as dark as you want. However, the beauty of this wood lies in the contrast between the lighter brown and the black.

The Tecnique

The technique is quite easy.  To start, you will need some Ebony stain. Normally, ebony stain is quite worthless in my opinion as it doesn’t really give you that dark of a finish. We will take advantage of this on our reconstituted veneer.  You can use regular oil based stain. Even better, is the new All in one Stain/Poly Ebony color from Minwax which is actually the stuff I used.   Now you don’t want to apply it straight from the can as it will be too dark. Instead,  we will poor some out in a jar and mix it about 50% with mineral spirits and stir it. This will make it a wipe onable.   The mineral spirits will allow it to go on smooth without streaks.

Now that you have your mix, grab an old tshirt and tear off a piece to use as an applicator.  You want to fold it into a square or rectangle so that we can get a smooth finish.   Now dip it into your stain mix, squeeze out the excess as we don’t want it to go on too wet.   Apply it using long strokes going from one end of the work piece to the other in the direction of the grain.   When finished, you will see that the reconstituted veneer takes on a darker tint which more closely resembles a polyed real veneer finish. Now it’s just a matter of letting it dry and applying clear poly to obtain your desired gloss level. My personal preference is satin.

That’s it, that’s all there is too it. Below are a couple of pics with the reconstituted veneer next to real ebony. The results are excellent and they look very much alike!

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