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I love the look produced from pickling wood with steel wool and vinegar. See this example for details.

I am hesitating to actually do this on a raw ready-to-finish table because I fear the steel wool/vinegar product actually harms and deteriorates the wood faster. Does anyone know if this is true? Or does it truly just change the color to somewhat more silverish? Does it even matter after I apply a coat of polyurethane to the pickled table?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

This treatment only affects the surface of the wood. It's not going to weaken the table.

That said, the effect of a vinegar/steel wood stain is going to vary a lot depending on the type of wood you're staining. It will be best to test your entire finishing process including the clear finish on the actual table. You can use the bottom or some other inconspicuous place to experiment.

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