DIY Rustic Shelf & Creating Your Own Stain With Vinegar


Hi guys.... how has your week been? I have finally got a few minutes to myself to tap out this post. The little guy is having a nap and I have finally sat down for the first time in a few hours. Ahh sweet relief. Anyway onto the real story. This shelf is part of my newly made over office - if you could call it that. I am going to keep you hanging a bit here and just reveal the shelf and the wall it's on. You will just have to wait a little bit long for the desk reveal and the whole room reveal coming up in the next couple of weeks. I know I know how mean am I but hey I have to get the most out of the material I have at the moment. When I started envisioning what I wanted for this new office space I knew I wanted something a little bit unique, something with character and that wasn't pedestrian and run of the mill. I started pinning ideas onto my Office Ideas Pinterest board to get some inspiration and creative juices flowing. I can't live without Pinterest for decorating ideas especially when I am trying to pull together a room idea. This room is especially small and it is part of my photography studio as well so I needed for the area that was designated for my office to be compact but still have some style to it.

This shelf was originally located in our sad sad laundry, which we recently renovated. We took it off the wall before we moved in and it has been sitting under our house ever since. I knew we would use it for something one day so it sat biding it's time underneath the house. It started it's life as a plain piece of pine board with bronze look brackets holding it in place. It looks much much different now.


I started by giving the brackets a brush over with a wire brush to remove any built up grime and flaking paint. I then sprayed it with a couple of coats of Rust-Oleum Universal Matte Black spray paint. This is my go to paint for things like this. It can paint plastics, metals and woods without you requiring to do an undercoat first. I've used it a number of times for little projects such as giving new life to knobs, hinges, knockers and ever my DIY cake stand. I let this dry for a day and put it aside for later use.  I then gave the plain pine wooden shelf a light sand and a couple of coats of basic white paint to start off with. I originally was just going to hang it painted plain white with the matte black brackets but in my mind it seemed to be to stark and to new looking. It didn't fit the rustic theme I was going for.

So out come the sander. I gave the whole board a good sand concentrating on the corners and edges to give it a worn, rustic look. I love how the knots in the wood have shown through the paint. To create this look I started with 120 grit sand paper on an orbital sander and concentrated on the areas I wanted to look particularly worn. Once I had achieved what I was after I then swapped over to 180 grit (a finer sand paper) to give it a light sand all over to smooth off any rough feeling areas. This is what it looked like after I had finished giving it a good sand.











Now this is where I began experimenting to create my own wood stain to give this shelf more of a rustic look. I have read a few articles around the web about how to create your own stain with two simple ingredients - vinegar and fine steel wool. By combining the vinegar and steel wool together a simple chemical reaction of oxidisation occurs This oxidisation creates your coloured stain. The longer you leave your stain "brew" the richer and darker it can get. You have a number of vinegars you could play around with when making up your own stain - Apple Cider, Balsamic, Brown and White Vinegar. Each of these will give different coloured stains so the possibilities are endless of what you can create. I wanted a greyish, industrial looking finish so I will go through my recipe for the stain below.



You will need the following:

Glass jar
0000 Fine Steel Wool - you can find it here
Vinegar* (your choice)

The stain pictured had been sitting for 14 days at this point.

  1. Cut off a 3 x 10 cm pieces of steel wool. Place it into the bottom of the glass jar.
  2. Pour in your choice of vinegar. My recipe was 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar.
  3. Make sure the steel wool stays covered in the vinegar mixture as this is necessary to get the oxidisation to occur. 
  4.  Put the lid onto the jar and store in a cool place for at least 5-7 days minimum . The longer you leave it the better the colour will be. I only left mine about 4 days as I got impatient so the colour was not as deep as it could of been but I am still happy with the result.
  5. Once the brewing time has passed pull out a piece of the steel wool. Make sure the wool is still damp with the vinegar liquid. Using this piece of steel wool wipe it over the area you want stained. Continue to dip it into the vinegar mixture to dampen and wipe over the wood in the direction of the grain. I wiped the stain over the painted sections of the shelf and found it only coloured & aged the paint slightly but the bare wood soaked it up. 
  6. Leave the stain to dry for an hour or two and as it dries the colour will deepen. Add another layer of stain if you want a darker and deeper colour. I only did one coat of the stain on my shelf. 
You could finish off your project with a top coat of clear varnish to protect it. I kept it simple and opted not to do this. 









I went with not hanging the brackets in the conventional fashion underneath the shelf. Instead opting for the brackets to be hanging the shelf from the top.  It gave it a cleaner, less fussy appearance from the bottom and was able to show off that gorgeous finish I had created. After hubby hung the shelf my fingers were itching to fill it up with trinkets and goodies. I think styling it was my favourite part.









Next time I will reveal the desk I recently refurbished to compliment the rest of the space!




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