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BOOK REVIEW: False Graining Techniques
By Jim King and Beth Oberholtzer

by J.Norman Reid
Delaplane, VA

Faux finishes have a long history in woodworking, particularly in the more vernacular furniture forms, where they could be used to hide less expensive woods such as poplar. More recently popularized as "antiquing," the method has a solid place as a finishing technique.

The methods explained in False Graining Techniques are simple—a base coat, usually of a light acrylic vinyl paint, coated with a darker glaze that is then shaped into undulating patterns using a variety of distressing tools ranging from graining combs, corn cobs, torn cardboard and fingers. Once dried, the authors finish their projects with diluted amber shellac.

The book begins with a brief history of false finishing in American practice, then teaches the basics needed to follow their examples. Few materials are required to do false finishing and their methods are simple to follow.

The authors present six projects as examples of what you might want to create for yourself. Each project illustrates a different graining technique so you can see some of the effects that can be created. The projects are a tissue box grained with a graining comb, a mirror frame using a corn cob, a serving tray using a graining comb, a miniature blanket chest decorated with finger prints, a block frame using the torn edge of a tablet back, and a two-drawer chest using a foam brush.

A brief section covers finishing with shellac and methods for distressing the final project, if desired. The book concludes with an idea gallery that illustrates a number of other projects, graining techniques and color combinations that will inspire you to go in different directions.

This book, well-illustrated in full color, is filled with ideas and inspiration. Tips, tool lists, and technique reminders are presented in side columns next to each project for easy access. It's a quick, fun read that will leave you full of ideas about ways you can simulate wood grain or, if you choose, apply riotous colors and patterns to your projects.

Aimed principally for persons whose interests lie in the field of crafting, it will nonetheless also appeal to those woodworkers who wish to take up the time-honored practice of false finishing.

CLICK HERE to order your copy of False Graining Techniques

The author is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker's assistants. He is the author of the forthcoming book Choosing and Using Handplanes . He can be reached by email at nreid@fcc.net .

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