Antique Barn Finish Update and Ideas

The Antique Barn Finish in our current issue (June 2007) had to have caught your eye if you’re jazzed by the antique-painted furniture look. I know I’m ready to give this technique a try on my next painted project. If you haven’t read the article it’s posted in its entirety on our web site (click here).

I perused the article again and set out to find a heat gun similar to what author Troy Sexton suggested. I ran into trouble and you may have been stymied as well. The only heat guns I could find were rated to 1,000�º or slightly higher. Troy recommended a 1,500�º, but said you can do the job with the cooler 1,000�º gun.

I grabbed the phone and dialed his number. (The same holds true for you, too. If you have a question or comment, grab the phone and call us.)

Here’s the scoop on the heat gun. The 1,500 figure is the watt listing of the gun. The temperature is 1,000Ã?º. A secret he didn’t share in the article, but that I managed to wrangle out of him, is to cover the intake area on your gun to make sure you’re achieving that hottest temperature.

Next, if you work through the steps with the 1,000Ã?º heat gun and find that the blistering is too light, here are a couple tricks to help. First, make sure you’re using a solvent-based lacquer. Water-based isn’t the best choice. And, you don’t need to spray. Try a brush-on lacquer and build a heavy coat. The thicker the coat, the easier it is to blister the paint layer. In addition, gloss lacquer may work better than a flattened product such as a satin finish.

Second, timing is key. Troy allows the lacquer to dry just enough to apply the paint coat. You don’t want to smear or drag the lacquer as you add the next layer of paint, but the quicker you get the paint layer in place and dry, and begin blistering with the heat gun, the better the end results.

The final caveat I can offer is to try this technique on scrap pieces before beginning on your project. It’s always better to work out the kinks versus ruining, or least compromising, your furniture.

If you give this antique barn finish a try let us know your results by leaving a comment.

, Glen D. Huey

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About Glen D. Huey

Glen Huey is managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, an accomplished period furniture maker and author of numerous woodworking books and videos (as well as magazine articles).

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