Distressing a Finish
by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher
Distressing a new piece of furniture to appear old and used is an art in
and of itself. I often see examples of this in the homes of my clients
and can tell instantly that they are fakes because of the methods and tools
used in the process.
Here are nine tips and techniques you can use in your shop for a more natural effect:
Take into consideration the function of the piece.
Consider the period the piece represents. "Older" pieces should be more distressed.
Think about how the piece would have been used and where it would most likely have come into contact
with the user.
Use other antiques as a guide for wear patterns and finishes available
at the time.
Pay special attention to the areas of the feet, legs, tops, edges, knobs and pulls.
Worm holes and other insect damage is usually found on the lower
areas such as the feet, legs, and moldings.
Try to imagine what would have been placed on the piece. This will also give
clues to the normal wear and tear.
Some of the tools we often use are clumps of concrete with rocks rolled about the surface,
keys, screws, nails, awls/ice picks, burning candles and inks.
Finish sand and then stain the piece and apply a sealer. Distress the piece after the sealer
has dried and then lightly sand with 320 and stain again with a darker color to accentuate the
distressing. Wipe off the excess and let dry. Apply a sealer again, let dry and then
complete with your finishing schedule.
Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood
Visit Highland Woodworking's Online
Antiques Show and Tell
, October 8, 2011
Finishing the Finish
, October 26, 2011
, November 19, 2011
Wood Finishing Supplies Department
Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at