I have a big walnut tree in my backyard that drops hundreds of walnuts on the ground every fall. For some reason the walnuts were excessive this year as I have never seen so many on the ground. It must have been a good year to be a walnut tree.
I usually just trip on them while I cut the grass but I decided it might be fun to try to make my own walnut stain from the nuts.
I looked around for the walnuts that had opened up while the squirrels were giving me dirty looks and took about a dozen of them to my shop. I then wrapped them in an onion bag and tightened them up so the walnuts wouldn’t fall out. Wrapping them in cheese cloth would work just as well.
I grabbed a big pot I bought a few months ago and a hot plate burner to cook the walnuts. There was no way I was going to use a pot from my wife’s kitchen as I didn’t want to get punched in the face. I filled the pot with water with a couple of gallons of water, placed the nuts in it and turned on the hot plate until the water was at a boil.
After the water came to a boil, I turned the hot plate off and let the walnuts sit in the pot overnight. In the morning, I dipped a stick in the water to see how dark the stain was. It wasn’t as dark as I would have liked so I turned the burner on again. After I got the water to a boil, I turned the hot plate to low and let the walnuts simmer in the water for a few more hours.
This was the most frustrating part of the process. I kept testing the stain on some scrap oak to see how dark it was. Every hour I checked, the stain was real light and looked like tea. I started to think it wouldn’t work. So I decided that I probably had too much water in the pot and poured some of it in the sink. After removing about half the water and cooking the walnuts for a few more hours, this is what I was left with.
Satisfied with the color, I poured the stain into a mason jar using a funnel and paint strainer to collect all the gunk that had accumulated in the water from the walnuts.
This is how the stain looks on white oak. It dries a little lighter than this and raises the grain a bit but considering I made it from nuts in backyard is pretty cool.
I marked the date on top of the can so I know how fresh it is. Ideally you would want to store the stain in the refrigerator so it doesn’t go bad, but I doubt I’ll do that. I’ll keep it around and test it every week to see how long it lasts. Unfortunately, I have nothing to stain right now. Maybe I’ll make a bookcase out of oak in the next few weeks so I can at least use it before it goes bad.
6 thoughts on “Making Walnut Stain”
Very cool. I love black walnuts. Before Grandpa sold his house, he used to collect them from a neighbors yard. He would spend hours cracking nuts and picking the meat out. Used to give my wife and I a couple of bags when we would visit!
I’ve never eaten any of mine. I don’t know enough about how to do it properly and would be afraid I’d get sick.
OMG! In defense of myself, I’ve never “punched” you in the face!!
Haha. I know baby.
You read your husband’s blog? What an amazing wife!
Would multiple applications of the walnut stain, or letting it sit longer on the wood, darken the colour?
I’m sure it will. It works like regular water based stain. I need to make something out of oak so I can apply it ans see how it turns out.