As the saying goes, wood is what you make of it. You can use it now or hand it down from one generation to another. Whether you turn wood into your home’s accessories, furniture, or pillars, they have characteristics that can be manipulated to create works of art, artifacts, or heirlooms. It’s how you handle the wood that makes all the difference.
One of the most in-demand types of wood is old, aged wood that has streaks of a unique colour, patina, and texture that show its depth of character and history. Unfortunately, this type of old wood can be so hard to find in its natural state. They are also expensive when bought from reclaimed wood retailers.
That said, there’s no need to buy aged wood if you can create your own. Ageing and distressing new wood is a technique you can learn. It was passed on from generation to generation to help new wood achieve a “weathered look.” Here are three main methods to make your new wood look old:
Mechanically ageing wood with blunt and sharp tools
Choose less expensive softwoods such as fir, hemlock, or pine for your project. The act of manually distressing these woods opens up their cellular properties best for mechanical ageing. Prepare a variety of tools like chains, a hammer, nails, a nail set, an old saw blade, and sanders.
Keep in mind that what you’re going for is to make your new wood look like it came into harsh physical contact with the world. You want to make it look like it’s riddled with dents, gouges, insect bores, and scratches.
The idea is to “recreate” this look by cutting, hitting, and splintering the new wood. Hit the wood lightly in various places with a chain to create a series of low dents. For more control, tap the wood softly with the side (not the front face) of the hammer. Using the sander, round off angular corners and edges. You can also tilt the sander and touch it lightly to the inside area of the wood to create large, deep grooves, but do so only sparingly. Rounding off edges and corners is practically a requirement of this project since aged wood rarely has precise edges and corners.
Use chemicals on the wood for colour or patina-like stains
If you’re going to employ this technique, you should use hardwood because they react differently to chemicals. This reaction will result in a colourful or accented patina worthy of an old wood look. The main objective is to age wood with liquids, which mimics the effects of rain and weathering in the natural world. The colour and patina of wood transforms as it ages and when it’s subjected to different conditions. Dark wood turns lighter when it’s hit by UV rays, light wood darkens when it’s subjected to moisture over time, and seaside wood eventually takes on a silvery-grey hue because of the salty sea breeze.
Clean the hardwood with denatured alcohol to remove any oil, grease, and dirt. White vinegar, stains, and paint are the three types of fluids you may use to manually age wood. Vinegar creates a silvery-grey appearance. Creating this silvery hue is easy. First, fill half a spray bottle with white vinegar. Tear a chunk of steel wool in half to fray the ends, then drop it in the bottle and leave it in the sun for 24 hours. The next day, spray the hardwood with the contents of the bottle. After it dries, the wood will develop an attractive grey colour reminiscent of old pallet wood.
Creating the look of weathered, painted wood
This third technique can be combined with the first two. Paint can be applied in two coats, then sanded down for a weathered effect. You can also use pre-mixed weathering agents or weathered wood accelerators to achieve these full effects. The water-based Varathane Weathered Wood Interior Accelerator creates a silvery colour like the vinegar treatment. Unlike vinegar, these pre-mixed solutions have a minimal odour, are easy to clean, and have colour consistency.
// Wrapped Up
Whatever technique you choose, make sure you know what look you want to achieve in order to get the desired outcome. It’s also good to experiment with other types of wood before working on your masterpieces. Lastly, remember to be careful and creative when employing these techniques.
If you’re looking for a timber supplier in your area, Timber 2 U Direct is your best option. Get in
touch with us today to see how we can help.