This past fall I collected a handful of walnuts to make a batch of walnut stain. There isn’t a lot of information on making your own stains, but I remember reading about walnut stain in an old book when I was a teenager. I picked the walnuts off the tree before they fell to the ground in the fall. At this stage they are still green but it keeps them from getting full of maggots as they do when you get them off the ground.
One method for making walnut stain is to boil the husks in water for around eight hours and then decant off the liquid. I decided against this as I wanted it to be more concentrated so that I can add alcohol to it and make it into an alcohol based stain. This should reduce the amount of grain being raised on the wood and give deeper penetration.
The method I use, is to take the walnuts with the husk on and merely let them sit for 6 months in a large glass jar out in the shop. After a few weeks they start turning a dark color. After a few months they get a little moldy and start releasing their juice, which is what can be used as the stain. Below is a picture of the large jar used for aging and fermenting the walnuts.
Once the walnut juice has stopped seeping out, you can pour off the liquid and use it for stain. At this point I have not added alcohol, but plan to. This should help preserve the stain and keep it from molding.
Here is a picture of three handles for some tomahawks that I make. The top one is before sanding and staining, the middle is stained and lightly carded with fine steel wool, and the bottom one has been stained and given a coat of BLO (boiled linseed oil).
As you can see, this homemade walnut stain produces a very nice deep brown color. I like using it for the handles on my tomahawks because it gives a nice aged look to them. It also goes well with the browning finish that I put on the tomahawk heads.
As always I hope you enjoyed this write up, and if you have questions or comments I would love to hear from you.