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Distressed table top. advice, tricks, tips, methods help needed

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Forum topic by Michigander posted 08-22-2016 02:42 PM 1173 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Michigander

214 posts in 1879 days


08-22-2016 02:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tabletop farmhouse distressed roughsawn rustic

My daughter and son in law would like me to build a kitchen table similar to the one pictured below. They like the farmhouse look with the grooves between the boards and the rough sawn look. They also like the wood which I can’t identify.
I have made large tabletops before but spent hours making them look prefect and am stymied by the methods to make it look old.
I am looking for your help with tips and methods to accomplish this look. In particular:
1. when chamfering the board edges how much of a chamfer do I put on so that I get the effect but not cause a problem with food getting stuck in the groove.
2. I’ve never worked with reclaimed wood before so is there an good way of getting the saw marks typical of rough sawn wood?
1. If I need to use reclaimed roughsawn wood, how do you plane it so its flat and not lose all the roughsawn detail. I don’t have a power planer.
What type of wood is good for this application? I’d like something hard so pine is out. It will be stained dark so gorgeous grained wood would be a waste. The character of the top will come from the “distressing”.
Anyway I am kind of nervous about this project as it is a long way from what I have thus far done.
Thanks for your help.
John


11 replies so far

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

3650 posts in 1726 days


#1 posted 08-22-2016 02:50 PM

A friend of mine used a wire wheel on a hand held angle grinder to rough up a table. It really brought out the grain. It turned out pretty cool. If I remember correctly he just shot it with a water based poly. He used alder, that might be an option for you.

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

288 posts in 209 days


#2 posted 08-22-2016 05:05 PM

My brother is in the wood reclaiming business (post retirement job/hobby). He has heart pine from old flooring, which dates to the mid-1800’s. The other wood he deals in is reclaimed Cypress (also very very old), and much of it has the sawmill blade marks. As Cypress ages, it takes on a grayish color, and to remove that color (if a fellow wanted to) you’d have to mill off the saw blade marks. The brother is in Natchez, MS. Let me know if you’d like his company name and number. He’s also on Facebook, at 601 Salvage. He has warehouses full of the most amazing things.

Worth mention is that the old cypress is from all parts of the old homes, and some was wallboard. The houses were not insulated, so the poor inhabitants tacked and nailed paper, cardboard, and whatever they had to give them some insulation. So…the old wall boards are often full of nails, tacks, and whatever. Hard to find all that before you feed it into your planer.

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7905 posts in 1840 days


#3 posted 08-22-2016 05:20 PM

Some people make a paddle board with screws through it to whack and scrape for distressing, beat it with chains.

Oak is hard, inexpensive, and stains well. I would fill the pores. The grooves in the top will fill up with crap and you’ll need to brush the table to get them clean.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View granite's profile

granite

65 posts in 2080 days


#4 posted 08-22-2016 09:21 PM

My daughter and son-in-law have a rustic table similar to this and they say the chamfer between the boards does collect debris. I suggested using an epoxy coating on it to make it smooth but so far no movement on that, so its just something they live with.
Replicating saw marks would be tough, but I think the safest way would be with a router or coarse grit (25x) disc sandpaper. Router would be my choice, you could build a small jig for the router to get the arc that would mimick a large saw blade.
Instead of saw marks you could also use the router to mimick shallow adze marks, which gives the planks an old world feel. A scrub plane gives a nice texture also.
I’ve seen rough weathered boards offered for sale and they plane the back side so the board lays flat on whatever substrate it’s being put on, mostly walls and ceilings. This keeps the front surface appearance rough and weathered. But, I’m afraid this doesn’t help out on a dining table top.

Here’s a good forum on distressing here on Lumberjocks, http://lumberjocks.com/topics/33884

-- "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." Red Green

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3019 posts in 1712 days


#5 posted 08-22-2016 11:15 PM

I’ve used a small spring, like a spring from an ink pen, to simulate small bug tracks. Uncoil the spring into some random pattern, and hit it with a hammer in the top. The forum post that Granite linked to above also has some great distressing tips.

I’m not a big fan of the grooves in the table top. The last table I built, out of knotty alder, was glued together flush to make a nice big, flat top.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View JBrow's profile (online now)

JBrow

815 posts in 380 days


#6 posted 08-23-2016 01:14 PM

Michigander,

I personally avoid reclaimed lumber, especially if reclaimed by someone else. I am not that confident that the re-claimer removed all the embedded metal or in my ability to identify hidden metal, even with a high quality metal detector. If a piece of lumber contains undetected metal, I am sure that my knives or blades will find it, potentially resulting in an accident or a damaged cutting edge.

The second problem with reclaimed wood is one of the questions you posed; how can it be milled or cut without destroying the patina. I am not sure that is possible. I have noticed that light sanding on grayed wood is possible, but the patina does not extend very deep into the wood so sanding reclaimed wood strikes me as similar to sanding plywood, that is sand too much and the patina is gone.

By using new wood and then using various physical and chemical destressing techniques, maybe a look that appeals to your daughter could be found. A few sample boards of differing woods and techniques could dial in the approaches that would satisfy her. Several LJs have mentioned physical destressing methods. There are evidently commercial products and even some homemade formulas that can be applied to freshly milled wood that chemically produce the gray-like patina of old wood. I have not tried any of these methods, so I cannot say how well the work. If you Google Making New Wood Look Old several sites will be found that maybe are worth a look.

One method for imparting saw marks to freshly milled lumber, for example on the boards that make up the table top surface, is to first mill the lumber as you normally would. Then run what will be the show surface of the lumber through the bandsaw, taking a light skim cut. After the boards are glued up, some sanding can feather out some of the marks, if desired. If the lumber is held tight to the resaw fence throughout the cut, a fairly smooth surface but with bandsaw mill marks evident, can be achieved. Using the fewest teeth available on the bandsaw blade I think would come closest to mimicking the appearance of lumber cut with a back in the day, old school pit saw.

It seems to me that the purpose of the chamfer at the joints in the top is to give the appearance that the boards are separate (not glued together); as if the top boards were not glued together, but rather are kept together with battens on the underside. Therefore a steeply angled chamfer would such as that produced by a 15 degree chamfering router bit would look best. But that would produce a rather thin line and debris in the recess would collect. Therefore a shallow chamfer would be needed so that a wet dish cloth could mostly rake the bottom of the chamfered joint. How steep and how deep a chamfer are probably best decided by you daughter looking at a few sample boards.

From the photo, it appears the top was stained fresh cut wood. I rarely use stains and dyes so I have little experience in this realm. I prefer selecting a wood whose clear coated appearance is the color I am after and thus avoid issues associated with staining.

But from what I understand about staining, the choice of stain and the species of wood combination can affect the look. As I understand stains and dyes, stains contain a coloring additive that is particulate whereas dyes contain coloring agents dissolved in a carrier solvent. Therefore, it seems to me that a stain on an open pore wood would be a good choice. However on some woods blotching can occur, so prefinishing these woods with a conditioner or pore filler is needed to control blotching. On a dense closed-pore wood, a dye whose pigment will soak into the wood may be the best choice. A series of sample boards can help determine which satin or dye and how it should be applied is, I think, a good way to go.

View Tabletop's profile

Tabletop

77 posts in 208 days


#7 posted 08-23-2016 03:04 PM

I use barnwood all the time and would encourage you to use it.
1. Select good boards, clean and straight edge. If possible leave a little of the natural bevel on the edges. Remember random is good
2. Sand boards, 40-80 grit, just enough so you can select best looking sides.
3. Sand edges slightly, where you had to cut all bevel off to get straight edge
4 glue up, make top side as close to flat as possible but not exact.
5. Sand to desired look.
6. Flatten bottom with hand plane and belt sander. Doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s called character
7. Finish, if you left a lot of “character marks” a clear coat is all that is needed for the look of your picture.

That’s pretty much it. One very hard thing to do is trying not to be perfect. The imperfections are what you are looking for. If you don’t have barnwood use rough cut lumber that has been dried but not planed. Sand to leave saw marks and ding it up for more character.

View simmo's profile

simmo

58 posts in 2932 days


#8 posted 08-24-2016 09:15 AM

Have some kids ,make a table , give it 6 weeks it will be distressed, simple, doesn’t matter what finish ,it will be distressed, remember magic marker , biro ink ,snot, blood, puke, knife and fork marks are all character.
Chris

View Michigander's profile

Michigander

214 posts in 1879 days


#9 posted 08-24-2016 08:29 PM

Wow Guys thanks for all the suggestions. I agree on the grooves, they are going to be a cleaning mnightmare, but I especially like the idea that JBrow (wow thanks for all the ideas)brought up about a very shallow but wide chamfer. I plan to make up sample boards as you suggest.
The idea of just using rough sawn wood by Tabletop is a great idea. The place I usually get my wood from planes it down but I’ll have them give me samples of rough-sawn and see how that goes.
All of you I really appreciate the ideas including simmo’s idea of snot, blood puke etc.!!!!!!!!!!
I’ll post some sample pictures.
Thanks,
John

View Drew's profile

Drew

304 posts in 2560 days


#10 posted 08-24-2016 09:55 PM

I have made well over 100 distressed and/or reclaimed tables the last few years or so. Currently making an average of 5 a month right now on top of all the corporate stuff.

Here is my advise and answer to your questions…

1. Play around. Take two pieces of your scrap and run a hand plane down the edge until you like the look. Simple
2. I take a 40 tooth 10” saw blade and put a bolt through the arbor hole with a washer and nut on the other side to hold it. Then put the bolt into my cordless drills chuck. Make sure it is spinning backwards and drag it across the material.
Of course I would NEVER recommend this method due to safety concerns, but it works great for me!

1. (#2) I pick out the flattest boards I can find, only plane the backside for consistent thickness, and belt sand the top to desired patina. Boards with too much crown I rip down the middle.

Other ideas for distressing:
Chains. I use a small dog chain and a larger chain to dent up the material.
A dull hand plane also makes a great effect, as do dents left from screws and cut nails.

I don’t think the table here is made from reclaimed material. Looks like standard construction grade dimensional lumber to me. A LOT of people are doing this now and calling it rustic. I call it JUNK!

-- TruCraftFurniture.com

View TheBossQ's profile

TheBossQ

100 posts in 2153 days


#11 posted 10-03-2016 06:24 AM



I have made well over 100 distressed and/or reclaimed tables the last few years or so. Currently making an average of 5 a month right now on top of all the corporate stuff.

Here is my advise and answer to your questions…

1. Play around. Take two pieces of your scrap and run a hand plane down the edge until you like the look. Simple
2. I take a 40 tooth 10” saw blade and put a bolt through the arbor hole with a washer and nut on the other side to hold it. Then put the bolt into my cordless drills chuck. Make sure it is spinning backwards and drag it across the material.
Of course I would NEVER recommend this method due to safety concerns, but it works great for me!

1. (#2) I pick out the flattest boards I can find, only plane the backside for consistent thickness, and belt sand the top to desired patina. Boards with too much crown I rip down the middle.

Other ideas for distressing:
Chains. I use a small dog chain and a larger chain to dent up the material.
A dull hand plane also makes a great effect, as do dents left from screws and cut nails.

I don t think the table here is made from reclaimed material. Looks like standard construction grade dimensional lumber to me. A LOT of people are doing this now and calling it rustic. I call it JUNK!

- Drew

Hi Drew. A few questions for you. What species of wood are you using? Are you dyeing or staining before finish? And what sort of finishes are you using? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

My wife is requesting a kitchen table before Thanksgiving and she loves the distressed, aged look.

Many thanks in advance.

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