Please read A word of Warning! below.
Long before there were man made stains found on our hardware shelves of today woodworkers discovered that chemicals could change the color of wood. These chemical stains react with those present in the wood to form compounds that add color or ...here's the part you all should like.... an aged appearance.
Two of these three chemicals can be purchased as powders with the exception of iron buff and dim water. A good starting point is 1 oz. powder ( by weight equals roughly 2 tablespoons) to 1 qt. water. Allow the solution to cool to room temperature and strain the mixture to remove any residue. Apply the same way as a water based stain flood the surface liberally with a bristle or foam brush. NEVER SPRAY A CHEMICAL STAIN. Wait at least 4 hours for the color to develop if an other coat isn't needed rinse the wood with clean water to remove any residue. if desired you can smooth the raised wood with 220 grit sand paper.
Ferrous sulfate also known as iron sulfate or copperas turns most woods a light weathered gray, it can be purchased as dry granules at Earthguild.com or 1-800-327-8448 it will react with the tannins in the wood to form iron compounds similar to gray/black stains visible on wood that been in contact with iron. I works well producing grays on most species, a color difficult to obtain with dyes and pigments.
Iron buff produces grays and blacks, the simplest way to make Iron buff is to shred 1 oz steel wool (one pad) into 1 pt. white vinegar. mix the solution with an open container allowing the hydrogen-gas to escape. I the strain the liquid through a coffee filter to remove all steel particles. Leaving the steel in the vinegar for 1 day creates light grays on tannin rich woods such as oak, cherry, and walnut. Leaving the steel in the vinegar for a week produces color ranging from dark gray to a deep blue or black. You can experiment yourself as you go along.
Sodium carbonate is not as Strong as lye, but its much safer. It works well duplicating the yellowish brown patina caused by photo-oxidation from sun and air exposure. Again start with a mix of 1 oz washing soda to 1 qt. water and increase or decrease the amounts to get the desired effect.
I have used these stains on Mahogany, white oak, ash, maple, cherry, and pine countless times with wonderful results. They are easy to make and again the type stains our fore fathers made and used, and the aged factor will surprise all of you that haven't tried it.
A word of Warning! The chemical ingredients in some of the products listed above can be hazardous and must be used with caution! Wear rubber gloves, a face shield, and a mask if required. Open the window and put on the fan. Follow the manufacturers instructions to the letter. Make sure you keep these agents in a well secured, safe lockable cabinet. Keep away from pregnant women, kids and pets. Accidental overdose of products containing iron is a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under the age of 6. Keep this product out of the reach of children. In case of an accidental overdose, call your doctor or a poison control center immediately. In other words, use your common sense! I'm not trying to scare you, but just use a little precaution when using and or mixing certain chemicals agents. -
Snagged this off a model boat discussion board sometime back.
I've only tried the steel wool and it works rather well honestly. Doesn't give you that nice India Ink and Alcohol buzz however.