How to Beautifully Stain Wood with Coffee
Ever since I’ve taken my first few steps into wood burning with my rustic DIY wood slice sign, I’ve been itchy to make another wood sign. Getting back into DIY wood decor project has been so much fun! For those who follow along, I had to take a little break from my typical wood working projects ever since I found out baby #2 was coming along. The other weekend, I met a lovely new friend who was feeling lost trying to find a five year anniversary present for her husband. Since the traditional five-year gift is wood, I knew this would be an awesome opportunity not only to make a gorgeous rustic sign, but also to play with DIY pregnancy friendly stains. (Yep, those typical wood stains are a no-go when growing humans.) Staining with coffee gives the wood a lovely, rich tone. Are you looking for pregnancy-safe, eco-friendly, or alternative stains for your wood projects? Then keep on reading to explore how to stain wood with coffee!
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
In addition to the supplies above (which I linked to Amazon using affiliate links!), you’ll need a printer and a pencil. Once you get your supplies ready, you’re all set!
Step 2: Create and Trace Your Design
Before we can stain wood with coffee, we first need to create our design and burn our project!
To create the design, I used Canva, which is an awesome online platform for graphic design. There are free and paid options. And while I pay monthly to use the service, I only used the free functionality to create these images. I mocked up 3 possibilities for my friend and sent them along for her feedback. These were the options:
Once she’d selected her favorite (#2!), I transferred the image onto the wood. As I’ve mentioned with past projects, there are lots of ways to do this! For this project, I taped the image onto the wood panel and traced it with a heavy hand using a pencil. The pencil carves into the wood ever so slightly so that you can see the image etched into the wood grain.
Step 3: Burn Your Project
Ever since I created my charming little wood slice, I’ve been over the moon with wood burning. It’s a nice switch up from the usual, hand painted rustic signs I make and love. Plus, the smell of wood burning is awesome, just like a campfire.
To burn this project, I first used the little pointed tip to outline all of my letters. Then I switched to the universal tip, which is like a flat calligraphy tip, to fill in the words, making sure to go slowly for even color. If you’re new to wood burning, you may want to check out this post which has lots of good tips and tricks for beginners. Once you’ve finishing burning your sign, you’re onto the fun part! Let’s stain wood with coffee!
Step 4: Stain Your Sign with Coffee
I’d done lots of research before starting this project. There are several eco-friendly, pregnancy safe options for staining wood, such as using vinegar and steel wool or using wine (yes, really!). I loved how coffee stained wood looked!
To stain wood with coffee, you’ll want to mix up a some really, really, really strong instant coffee. I used 2 heaping tablespoons in about 2 inches of water. And, yes, make sure you use instant coffee rather than brewed.
Before applying the coffee to the wood, I used my sponge brush to paint a very light coat of water over my wood piece. Why? Your project might be really thirsty! If you go in immediately with stain, the grain could absorb the stain too quickly, resulting in lots of patches and splotches. #notcute.
Once you have your java ready, use a sponge brush (or paint brush or rag) to apply a thin, even coat over the wood surface. The trick here is patience. To get depth of color, you may need to apply several coats, letting each coat dry between applications. To get the tone I wanted I applied three coats. For the third coat, I used a paper towel to blot some of the stain off of the middle of the project. This way, the edges of my project had a slightly darker tone than the middle.
Be warned: your sign will smell like coffee for a few days. No kidding. If you plan on giving this as a gift, you may want to pre-plan to allow the sign some time to air out. I hadn’t actually planned enough time in advance so when I shipped the sign to my friend, it still smelled like a barista bar. (Thankfully, she didn’t mind! She’s a new mama with a baby who wakes up a lot. The smell of coffee isn’t bad!)
If you want, you could choose to put a finishing wax over top your piece, which will not only protect it, but also give it a matte or shiny sheen. My finishing wax is all packed away from our cross country move, so I left the the sign stained.
Have you ever been curious to try staining wood with coffee? If you do, be sure to tag me on Instagram so that I can share your pic with the Home Beautifully family!
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As always lots of love from my house to yours!