Distressing Pine

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Forum topic by WoodWorker11 posted 05-18-2010 02:14 PM 11661 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 3700 days

05-18-2010 02:14 PM

Hi LJ’s,
My wife asked me to try to make her a coffee table like the one linked here. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to distress the pine (I realize I could just use distressed wood, but I don’t have any)?

11 replies so far

View WoodWorker11's profile


7 posts in 3700 days

#1 posted 05-18-2010 02:15 PM

I can’t believe how much they charge for that table. Looks like a pretty easy build.

View CampD's profile


1817 posts in 4255 days

#2 posted 05-18-2010 02:49 PM

“Reclaimed wood” is the buzz word for the cost of that piece. Going after the Green market. Yeah your right looks like an fairly easy piece to make.

-- Doug...

View CaptainSkully's profile


1613 posts in 4327 days

#3 posted 05-18-2010 03:40 PM

Setting it out in the weather, diluted muriatic acid, tea staining, bashing it with some chain, stabbing it with an awl, etc. are all methods I’ve seen woodworkers use to distress wood. Luckily, pine is pretty soft and inexpensive, so you should be able to work up some test finishes easily. Good luck

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3754 days

#4 posted 05-18-2010 03:52 PM

pine is easy to distress! setting it outside works pretty well. I also regularly use fire for distressing. Works great with a really light touch (I use one of those long lighters meant for grills)

I’ve also had good luck making a mud mix, slathering it on and then hosing it off.

It also really helps if you can pick kind of beat up looking pieces to begin with.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3752 days

#5 posted 05-18-2010 06:18 PM

For me distressed furniture is something I don’t do myself as I like it to occur naturally. If your going to distress a table like the picture try to make it look like natural use. Such as edges rubbed bare, or where the edge of a glass was slammed down on the top. Maybe some burn marks from a cigar or cigarette. Teeth marks from a teething toddler along the edge. Scratch marks on the legs from the cat. These can be done with a variety of different items. Try using different things on some scrap to get the feel for the type of distress implied.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View ocwoodworker's profile


209 posts in 3773 days

#6 posted 05-18-2010 06:35 PM

CaptinSkully has some good ideas. I actually have tried sandblasting the wood. It removes some of the softwood and leaves the hard wood with a higher profile. Looks old to me!

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View ChuckC's profile


844 posts in 3703 days

#7 posted 05-18-2010 11:47 PM

Built a new one and send it to me. My kids will make it look really old within a week :-)
All kidding aside the comments already mentioned will work well. Use a small drill bit and make some worm holes too.

View ChuckC's profile


844 posts in 3703 days

#8 posted 05-18-2010 11:52 PM

Oh, another thing. If you have a jointer get an old set of blades and but a bunch of gouges in them. That should get you close to the look of the draw fronts.

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

199 posts in 5022 days

#9 posted 05-19-2010 08:46 PM

Tell it that it’s a weak wood.
Make fun of its grain.


I’ve had good luck with smacking the wood with a burlap bag full of nuts and bolts.


-- To do is to be

View johnycartz's profile


2 posts in 3697 days

#10 posted 05-20-2010 06:48 AM

Had to “fake” the old look for antique stores when I had my shop.
Not that much work…just different.
Bashing the wood with chains & keys etc will make it look like It has been bashed w/ chains & keys.
The idea is to make it look old .not “antiqued”.
Best to do the complete assembly & ” wear ” the surfaces , corners & edges that would normally be subject to use.
I would rub the sharp edges off with a rough piece of wood
rather than sand them off .
Same goes for lower parts that would have been kicked & scraped .
I did sometimes put some dirt on the top surfaces & then bash w/ a chunk of wood & put some knife cuts & holes w/ an awl. where they might be expected to be.
I would hand plane the boards just a little to break the factory edges as well as putting some tool marks in the board surfaces by misaligning the iron on a block plane.
Before finishing, just plain mess it up making lunch on it.
Spill coffee, tea, mayonnaise, pizza , bleach or whatever & let it dry on then take it down w/ a cabinet scraper.
Almost never used sandpaper, just cabinet scrapers, bronze wool & wood shavings to burnish the wood .
A coat of dark tinted shellac will fill in the seams , gouges & dings & make them show up .
Remove the shellac & then stain & finish .
Not a fan of oil stains like Minwax ,but in a pinch?
See how you do with the tea & coffee first & maybe a water or alcohol soluble powdered stain which can be feathered easily & brought up to final color in stages.
Also not a fan of polyurethanes ,but the water based stuff will protect & not look like plastic.
If it won’t bring the cops, the shotgun treatment mentioned sounds like fun.
Old trade secrets for free….been out of it a long time , yours now.
Best regards…
ever brite smile

-- johny cartz

View WoodWorker11's profile


7 posts in 3700 days

#11 posted 05-20-2010 07:48 PM

Thanks all for the advice. I am leaving the wood outside for a bit then I will start testing on some of the scrap I left out with it. Great advice!

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