In Finishing

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Give ordinary wood the charm of old age.

I love the look of old paint—I’ve often tried to capture it in new furniture I’ve made. I’m not trying to build fake antiques, however. I’m just trying to create a simple look that has the charm of old age.

1. Soften all edges and corners with a power sander and sanding by hand.

I’m also a big fan of using salvaged lumber. It’s often free for the taking, but of course it comes with nail holes, cracks, chips and other defects. When I build a new project, I often start with a hodgepodge of boards. The secret to blending them together is to use paint. Here’s my recipe.

2. Imitate nicks and bruises by banging on the wood with a set of keys on a chain.

Begin by softening every edge, as if it been handled for years (Photo 1).  Next, rough up exposed surfaces a bit with a classic faker’s tool: a bunch of keys and other hardware attached to a chain (Photo 2).

3. Sponge on a texturing compound to create a slightly rough surface.

To simulate years of grit, apply an acrylic texturing compound (Photo 3). You can leave it thick or smooth it out with a sponge.

4. Paint over the texturing compound after the compound dries.

Apply your favorite paint (Photo 4). I often use green because, well, it’s a “green” object, right?

5. Add brown glaze to imitate wear and handling.

Lastly, mute the paint’s color and add some grime by applying a glaze (Photo 5). Use your brush to work the glaze around until your project looks natural and well-loved.

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