In our excerpt of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry,” A.-J. Roubo offers a recipe for staining wood red using a concoction made using horse dung and urine.
Here’s the recipe:
Before finishing the dyeing of wood, I believe I ought to give a least-costly method of dyeing white wood red, which is done in the following manner:
You take some horse dung, which you put in a bucket of which the bottom is pierced with many holes, and you place it above another bucket, into which falls the water from the dung, as it gradually rots. When it does not rot fast enough, you water it from time to time with some horse urine, which helps a lot and at the same time gives a red water, which not only stains the surface of the wood, but penetrates the interior 3 to 4 lines deep. In staining the wood with this dye, one must take care that all the pieces be of the same species, and about equal in density if one wishes that they be of equal color throughout. This observation is general for all water-based stains, which have no palpable thickness nor even appearance [they leave no residue or any evident change in appearance], which requires the cabinetmaker to make a choice of wood of equal color and a density as I mentioned before.
Woodworker Jonas Jensen of Mors, Denmark, is making this stain and documenting the process on his blog, Mulesaw. Follow along – but be warned, if you don’t like pictures of dung you are not going to like the instructions.
And just a reminder, the standard edition of “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry” is almost finished at the printer. If you want the book with free domestic shipping, be sure to place your order before Thursday, Oct. 10.
— Christopher Schwarz