How can I distress wood?


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Old 12-30-00, 12:05 AM
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Hi:

Can someone give me some info? I'm looking for unique and interesting ways to distress wood. The more bizarre, the better. Thanks very much in advance!

Cheers--Nick
 
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Old 12-30-00, 05:05 PM
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Nick:

I assume you're talking about physically distressing wood - cuts, gouges, dings, etc. These may fit the category:


1- Dissolve some caustic soda (lye) in water -be very careful doing this. Heat the mixture and sprinkle it in droplets on the wood. Everywhere it hits you'll get a dark splotch - like an old water mark. Potassium Dichromate crystals dissolved in water will produce the same effect with much less danger and no damage to the wood - but it only works on woods high in tannic acid, such as oak, mahogany, walnut and cherry.

2- Put a handful of nails in a glass pint jar and cover with white vinegar. Seal the jar and leave it alone for a week. Use the resulting liquid as you did the lye - the marks will be rust brown.

On the other hand -

1 a pizza pie wheel is excellent for marking random shall cuts on edges that are supposed to be worn, such as the front edge of any cabinet piece. Much safer than a knife.

2 Take some small finishing nails/brads and bend them to irregular shapes in a vise, or with pliers. Lay them on the wood and beat them with a rubber mallet - that way you get the odd shape, which resembles worm holes, without getting the imprint of a hammer.

3 Empty the shot (any gauge) from a #8 birdshot shotgun shell. scatter on the work area and pound in with a mallet. You'll probably have to dig them out, but the wormhole effect is worth it.

4 Beating the top with a small canvas bag full of rocks will get you a truly random pattern of abuse.

There are lots more ways, of course, in addition to the "traditional" rasp, file, sandpaper, etc.
 
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Old 12-31-00, 08:42 PM
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Distressing Wood

Hi George:

Thanks so much for your reply. What a wealth of information! I'm kinda new to this, and I've searched a lot but never found this kind of nutty stuff anywhere.

What would you suggest to finish it afterwards? And can the finish add to the rustic nature of the piece? Or is there any other treatments I can do to add more than just a luster to the wood? Basically, I'm just looking for something different than what I see a lot of. I really like the look of the stuff out of Asia, the exotic woods with almost a yellow color to them, but also a weathered look. Is there a good way to achieve that with standard pine? Or any other readily available woods?

Thanks a ton--Nick
 
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Old 01-01-01, 03:41 PM
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Nick:

There are as many variations in staining/finfishing as there are refinishers to apply them. Here are some general techniques.

Use a layered approach. After sanding the wood completely (we'll use pine as an example because it doesn't need a filler), apply a wash coat of shellac. This is ordinary 3# cut shellac from the store mixed 1:2 with denatured alcohol -that's 1 part shellac to 2 parts alcohol. This will partially seal the wood and allow the stain to take evenly.

Apply a base coat (usually dark) and wipe it off almost immediately. Allow this to dry, then apply a coat of aerosol lacquer - the sheen doesn't matter. When this is dry, you can apply a thin coat of another color, removing it in spots and letting it build up in others. This will give you a layered 'weathered' look - and the choice of colors is up to you. You can do this with successive coats until you get the look you want. Since each layer is separated from the one below, if you don't like the color you can wipe it off while wet with a rag wet with paint thinner - without removing what you've already done.

Just one of many techniques. Check Amazon.com and put the word 'refinish' in their search engine - you'll hit a lot of good titles to broaden your education - most for under $20 including S&H. Or check at B.J. Dalton's, or Barnes and Noble - they have them too.

Drop back by and let us know how it's going
 
  #5  
Old 01-03-01, 10:19 AM
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George is absolutely right about there being many different ways to distress furniture. A friend used to tell me the first step was to "sand" with a #2 grit "sandpaper". The #2 grit paper was a 1/2 a brick that had semi round edges. He'd roll this all over the piece creating the random nicks, dents & scratches George mentioned. On pine he'd then dump water over the spots where the brick had left red dust/dirt & wait for it to dry before removing the brick dust/dirt. It left this reddish brown stain in the nicks that added to the effect.

Good Luck, Bob
 
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Old 05-14-09, 11:12 PM
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take a propane torch and singe the wood. after burning then take a wire metal brush attachment for your drill and run it over the wood. the soft areas will be dug out while the hard ares will remain creating a 3d grain that is visibly appealing and texturally wonderful under your fingers. stain is optional because the burning creates its own stain effect on the wood. i have a coffee table, kind sized 4 poster bed, and am currently doing the treatment to posts on the front porch. it is a wonderful technique that is unique. if you want increased distressing beat it up with a heavy metal chain, hammer, axe, and even graze the wood with a chain saw to create a rough sawn look. very cool
 
 

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