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.