The Morning After (Bamboo)

Once again, me & bamboo are not getting along…:woman_facepalming:t2:

I engraved 10 boards (my customer had them and asked me to engrave them. Otherwise I usually prefer not to deal with bamboo.) They came out ok, but the engraving was so dark it looked more black than brown. So I took a warm wet cloth and wiped off most of the char that was in the engravings, hoping to lighten it. At that point they looked like a nice light brown.

However, the next morning they looked TOO light. (Some are pretty “washed out”, & on others the brown turned to more of a light greenish/blackish tint.) Not the rich brown my customer is probably hoping for. :confused:

I’ve heard of people using coffee to darken up engravings(?) In your opinion, should I try that (& if so, how do you do it?) or should I leave well enough alone? I only have a couple of hours before I need to deliver them. Ugh.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!


The only way to get the same color is to use the same paint. Almost any wood will not be the same color on different places on the same piece of wood. I suppose wiping with cherry juice or coffee would darken them but might heighten the contrast at the same time where you want it more even.

If you have used a jig, and can get a very precise repeat, you could use a masking and cut away just what was engraved you might be able to color in the engraving dark enough to be even but you would still need to guard against the color being sucked into the edges.


Thanks for your reply. I don’t mind the variation in other woods ~ I just don’t personally like how it comes out in bamboo (because of the greenish/blackish tones). It sounds like I should probably just leave them as is, since I have limited time, & explain to the customer that it’s the nature of bamboo. :woman_shrugging:t2:

I am curious, though, what the coffee technique is. I remember seeing it mentioned but couldn’t find info on the actual application/technique when I did a search(?)


I have seen references for soaking in coffee or Koolaid or strong staining juice like cherry or blueberry, partially because they are “food safe” though folk should not prepare food where it has been engraved. In any case, cleaning or sunlight could bleach out the stain as well.

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These look really nice and I hope your customer loves them. When you hand them over you could say something like ‘they came out fairly consistently for bamboo’ or something that implies both that bamboo is difficult and that these turned out well. He is probably not sending them all to the same customer in which case any variation won’t actually matter as they will only see the one they get.


I would leave them. They probably dried out. I usually apply a butcher block conditioner and oil to my cutting boards when I finish with them. It’ll bring some of the color back.


I use coffee a lot as stain, and I love the look (and smell) that it gives most woods. Bamboo, however, is a different creature. You’ll still get a darker area, but it will still be inconsistent.

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Thanks, everyone! As usual, I was over-thinking/worrying…I texted her a photo with a “disclaimer” about bamboo engraving having more “variation” in color than other woods like maple, etc. Her response: “They look wonderful! Thanks so much!!” :blush:

I appreciate being able to get your feedback ~ sometimes I get too much in my own head, & let my OCD get the best of me! :joy:


I think that’s for the best. If you tried to darken it and your stain wicked into the wood, it would have made a mess. (Don’t ask how I know)


I like them! I think it is classier to have an embossed cutting board. Our bamboo board has a hibiscus flower which has faded and looks great.


Thanks for the feedback. :blush:

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