Nitric Acid Staining for Boxwood

Peg shanks are soaked in turpentine for approximately 30 minutes. Shake and quickly mop off excess. Immerse immediately in strong (concentrated acid plus 50% water - always add acid to water, not vice-versa) nitric acid, heated in a water bath to hand hot temperature (the water bath!) until required colour is reached (normally less than 2 minutes). Care should obviously be taken at all times, avoiding breathing the acid fumes or allowing any skin contact at all as the acid is violently corrosive. Remove the shanks from the acid and wash well in a strongly alkaline solution (eg. washing soda) or common soap will do. It is important to make sure the acid is thoroughly neutralized. Rinse further in water. When the pegs have dried, the shanks may appear lighter than the heads. Oil the shanks and expose to Ammonia fumes to develop the full colour. Care should be taken to expose only the shanks to avoid darkening the head. A jam jar with holes pierced in the lid is convenient for this, the peg collar then provides a natural stop. It is helpful to burnish the re-stained shanks of the pegs very firmly with an agate or steel burnisher. This recompresses the fibres of the wood and minimizes the risk of the pegs working quickly through the pegbox.  

For customers staining non-animal white mounted fittings

Coat the exposed white collar with brushable shellac. Once thoroughly dry, then repeat. Doing this whilst the pegs are in a lathe makes the job easier, ditto the end button. The tailpiece can be covered with masking tape while applying shellac to the fret. Follow staining instructions above but neutralize the pegs in a soapy solution or ordinary washing up liquid. This will minimize the chance of yellowing. Dry the fittings with a soft clean cloth rubbing until a good surface is achieved. Allow to dry completely and before oiling. Shellac will need to be re-applied before ammonia is used to achieve the desired colour of wood. The shellac is easily removed with alcohol and then the ivory can be polished to a shine and again, doing this in a lathe gets the best finish.