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Forum topic by Craftsman on the lake posted 09-27-2011 05:04 AM 2818 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Craftsman on the lake

3042 posts in 3979 days

09-27-2011 05:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing faux antiques

I’m increasingly running into people, mostly young who want what I consider dump furniture.

I grew up in an old drafty house (I’m 56 now so it was awhile ago). The furniture in the 60’s was left over from the 1900’s to 1930’s. Some wood was split or the old bureaus had veneer coming off. It was scratched and some had layers of oddly colored shiny enamel paint that was chipping off. When we moved into another, newer home when I was older we hauled most of the stuff to the dump. Today this stuff is called ‘distressed furniture’ and is highly coveted if it’s got enough layers of chipping enamel.

Today, I love wood furniture made in most any style and to mimic any era from ancient to modern, but I like it new or if old at least looking like when it was made, not modified by someone with a love for treating everything ‘faux’. I’ve seen older furniture, stripped down to it’s old beautiful mahogany or cherry and painted with a kit that makes it look like fake striped bamboo. Is it me or what’s with these people?

I actually have an unreasonable aversion to painting almost any wood furniture and I tend to finish mostly natural. I’m not even big on stains. To me the wood, oiled, poly’d, or some other see thru finish enhances and protects the wood which is good on it’s own. Trying to change it much is a shame. Granted, a nice golden or reddish tint to mahogany for example is just fine for the right item, I’m not totally anal about it but am I going crazy or are a lot of people just not seeing that the wood itself is as much the draw to the furniture as the style and construction?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

28 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3139 days

#1 posted 09-27-2011 05:13 AM

You are not crazy as it relates to this topic. I really dont care for stain on most things either. One exception would be oak wood be floors for me. As for paint, it belongs on walls. I am still trying to understand the concept of painting new maple cabnets. I guess to each his own.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3467 days

#2 posted 09-27-2011 05:23 AM

I agree with you as well, stain just doesn’t exist in my shop for anything I do. I appreciate the natural look.

I think there should be a law against staining cherry, for instance.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Karson's profile


35207 posts in 4941 days

#3 posted 09-27-2011 05:24 AM

I’m with you. If I want something brown then use Brown wood. There is natural wood in almost every color.

It won’t be easy to find blue wood naturally, but go with the natural look.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View pariswoodworking's profile


389 posts in 3026 days

#4 posted 09-27-2011 03:09 PM

I have stain in my shop but I never use it. The only woods I would concider using it on are oak, pine, and poplar. (I did it once with maple but didn’t like it so I stripped it back down) I like the natural look of wood. There are enough types of wood out there to avoid stain for the most part.

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein

View StumpyNubs's profile


7778 posts in 3341 days

#5 posted 09-27-2011 03:36 PM

I am a believer of giving people what they want. If people want mahogany painted hot pink, fine.

BUT- If people want to paint ANTIQUE furniture, they should be lined up against a wall and beaten with a sock full of nickels. They are destroying history, not just altering wood.

PERSONALLY- I like wood in it’s natural state. I wonder why anyone would paint any cabinet, and I cringe when they do. But to each his own…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View AGriff's profile


14 posts in 2980 days

#6 posted 09-27-2011 10:03 PM

Fine wood should look like fine wood – including the grain!

-- "Not all who wander are lost."

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3391 days

#7 posted 09-28-2011 01:17 AM

There is no accounting for taste. If everyone in the world wanted wood finished the way Craftsman on the Lake does it, would we be any better off?

If, as a professional woodworker, one lets one’s self talk convince her or him that her or his taste is superior to that of anyone else, the opportunity for true collaboration washes away like spaghetti sauce off a plate.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3042 posts in 3979 days

#8 posted 09-28-2011 01:37 AM

Lee, I’m not talking about quality of workmanship, It’s altering the wood after. Not so much staining it’s painting. I’ve had people want something done in walnut then when they get it they paint it black. If I had known I could have made it paint grade, maybe out of poplar, saved them some money and probably not have been nearly so careful thereby cutting down on the cost of assembly. Who looks at heavy grained walnut and paints it?

I understand about staining though. Not my cup of tea but a lot of people like it.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3643 posts in 3650 days

#9 posted 09-28-2011 02:37 AM

Maybe they think that since it’s old that it is quality? I know, I know, it’s crazy. But I see it all the time. My wife likes old c…, I like clean, shiny/satin wood. She likes crud in the corners and paint worn off around the knobs and pulls. I sand and refinish when the things look bad. I don’t want to live in a dump. It looks unsanitary to me.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View chilimac's profile


29 posts in 3439 days

#10 posted 09-28-2011 03:06 AM

Dunno… Torn on this one. I spent a lot of time as a kid helping my dad restore antiques. Barn finds, garage sales, estate sales, flea markets. These were the bane of my summer vacation, we’d always find something that dad would task me with. I was working for free damnit (didn’t realize I was getting an education in woodworking at the time). Spent a lot of time applying and removing chemical strippers, rubbing steel wool and various scrapers on surfaces, burning my fingers on the hot stripper gun (“dad, it’s basically a hair dryer of course I’m caref- ow ow ow, damn hot blade!”). Other times we were repairing broken panels or chair legs… and making that new part match the rest by ‘antiquing’. These would then be sold in their antique store, to whit I’d have to carry said heavy furniture to someone’s car and good riddance.

What I like in furniture or any woodcraft has been mentioned above, bringing out the superior qualities or characteristics of the wood and how they accentuate a piece. I don’t mind a stain as long as it complements the wood, not a huge fan of paint, but if done well it can look good. I will hunt around my boards to find a complimentary piece but I’m not above adjusting the plan if I don’t find something I like.

Looking back now I think about some of the stuff in my parent’s house. It has been in the family a while, the repairs aren’t great, there are probably a few layers of paint on top. We bought some of them, and they look good, if old, but someone’s grandpa did the best he could and painted it the color grandma wanted. Before that it came from their cousin who had a different favorite color. I guess I’m thinking about the history involved in those layers of paint. And maybe a little about the aversion I have to the work involved in removing said layers of paint.

-- Big discoveries don't go "Eureka!", they go "Huh. That's funny..." They just as frequently go *bang* and *woosh*...

View Alster's profile


101 posts in 3755 days

#11 posted 09-28-2011 03:26 AM

The Shakers used a lot of beautiful wood. And they also used a lot of paint. In bright colors. Some of the paint went on top of beautiful wood.

Paint has its place. It must, if incredible craftsmen and designers like the Shakers were using it so liberally.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3231 days

#12 posted 09-28-2011 03:38 AM

I think the yuppies call that style “shabby chic”. Not to my taste but if they buy it, more power to ‘em.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View thedude50's profile


3610 posts in 3019 days

#13 posted 09-28-2011 03:40 AM

shabby sheik is just shabby shit to me i have made a bunch of softwood furniture through the years when i couldn’t afford nice store bought stuff i made a really nice version of norms trestle table Christ like 15 years ago and i made it out of heart redwood it was from a managed Forrest so it was not the old growth stuff i used to make my Adirondack furniture out of but the sides and feet were old growth i think from some old cabin this guy was sawing into planks it was cheep cost me 65 dollars to build i used a cherry colored poly finish my wife loves she still uses it today and we pull it out every thanks giving for a serving table ill never toss it out it was some of the most fun i have had in the shop i will be making her one exactly like it only out of cherry or mahogany for her birthday but it wont be the same piece my kids grew up doing their homework on while i was attending college and working full time ya those were the days i sure hope my kids don’t paint this when i am dead ya sorry the photo is not perfect this is in a kind of tight space my master closet

-- Please check out my new stores and

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18709 posts in 4217 days

#14 posted 09-28-2011 09:34 AM

Just goes to show you there really isn’t any junk. Throw it in the attic for a few years and it will be worth a fortune ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4262 posts in 3102 days

#15 posted 09-28-2011 10:03 AM

I remember my Grandmother, it seemed everything is the house was painted every year to look new and clean including the furniture. Not that the wood was bad just to have a nice look with plain wood. I do like the fresh clean look of newly make anything in wood and keep it natural. I even been thinking on my wood turning on just finishing the outside and leaving the inside sanded and no finish at all. Just so people can see what the wood looked like before it was finished.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

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