Ebonizing wood isn't as easy as it seems. Black dyes usually leave a bluish or greenish cast, oil stains look washed out and paint obscures the grain. But a good India ink. which is really a very finely ground pigment, does the job. It's available as a fast-drying waterborne liquid at art supply stores (Black Cat Waterproof India Ink, Dick Blick Art Materials, 800-933-2542, www.dickblick.com, #21101-2006; $7.50/ pint).
As with any waterborne finish, raise the grain before you apply the ink. Dampen the wood with water, let it dry and sand lightly to cut down the swelled fibers; then brush on the ink. Once dry, it's compatible under any finish.
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