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How to finish a project to get a rustic look?

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Forum topic by SergeantSawDust posted 769 days ago 3307 views 2 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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SergeantSawDust

173 posts in 809 days


769 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: rustic antique country sawdustking finish technique woodworking

My wife loves rustic furniture and I’ve picked up a couple of finishing techniques to give a shabby chic country sort of look but I’ve never been able to accomplish anything I’m “proud” of. How to you get a natural rustic antique look? Anyone have any suggestions on products they’ve used, or a specific process. I’ve posted a picture to help visualize more of what I’m looking for. This is a video I made on some techniques I picked up for a coffee table I built. Any suggestions/comments would be much appreciated.

SawDustKing Rustic Coffee Table Top Start to finish

-- Woodworking for the hobbyist woodworker. http://sergeantsawdust.com


7 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

1447 posts in 1142 days


#1 posted 769 days ago

When I refinished for 12 years, once in a while we would have a request for an “aged” look. It can be frustrating, but we conquered it pretty well by first going to an antique store, and really, really taking a good look at old distressed furniture. There is a big difference between rustic, aged, and just plain worn. We found them to be three completely different techniques. You refer to rustic, so I’ll address that.

For me, rustic implies that it was exposed to weather and exposure that you would not normally expose furniture to, or that it was made out of old wood that had already served some purpose, usually in some kind of weathering situation. It also can be associated with “plain or crude construction”. But most people I’ve dealt with think rustic as something that spent it’s life in a barn or outside.
The trick is to get the weathered look on a piece of wood. You can also add what I call wear points. I once did this with a wooden baby chair that we commissioned to look totally used. One of the things I did was to gently sand off a concave edge where the baby would put feet, over and over again, so it looked like the baby had rubbed the shoe back and forth, slowly wearing off the wood. But that is a worn look, not a rustic look. You can also do this by using cheap paint thinned down, and then wear it back off, similar to what some of the guitar companies are doing on distressed models. That is also worn, but with the worn off tint, you approach rustic.
Remember that words like Queen Anne and Rustic never go together, whereas styles like Quaker and Rustic can go together. I think you get it.

I have to be honest, I never used the chain thing, always came up looking like I just beat up a piece of new wood with chain. And the hand plane technique you use, I use a belt sander with a rough belt, 36 or 50 grit, lightly hitting it where I want, to simulate an “open” grain, where the weather has opened up the wood then I come back with a tint, usually with some gray in it, to simulate the weather. I sand it to be just smooth enough so no one gets a splinter in use.

Next, I have used for years actual wood that lay outside. You just can’t beat it for originality. Look on my website at the “Woodshedder” on my gallery page, you will see a brand new Les Paul style guitar with an aged gray oak pickguard and back, lightly sanded to smooth it out, stained with a natural Minwax to just give it a hint of tint, and coated with 9 coats of Nitro Lacquer. The wood is actually only about three years old, but since it lay outside in the rain and sun for the whole time, it turned this beautiful gray which I simply took off just enough to make it somewhat smooth, and then finished it. Find it at pallet companies, the back of most factories, lots of places.

There are lots more ideas, but I will say your ageing of the dimensional lumber you used on the tabletop to me looked like dimensional lumber, even with the beating. I think adding a gray tint, or very thin paint and sanding off most of it to simulate age would have given it much more credibility. I also would have added wear edges to simulate people sitting there for years on end, or some stains like a glass sweat stain, which you can do with a soup can edge and some dark stain.

Lastly, try some reclaimed lumber. It works pretty well, but you have to be careful not to cut too deep, or you end up with a new look made by old wood. Let some of the surface patina stay.
Good luck!!

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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SergeantSawDust

173 posts in 809 days


#2 posted 768 days ago

Paul, Thank you for taking your time to explain your experiences. I researched a lot and did what I thought for that table top but I definitely wasn’t happy with it. I realize I lack in finishing and I have learned a lot by your response. Thanks again.

-- Woodworking for the hobbyist woodworker. http://sergeantsawdust.com

View Stephenw's profile

Stephenw

273 posts in 1013 days


#3 posted 768 days ago

I’ve built a couple of coffee tables that I wanted to look well used. I used chains with bolts through the links to beat the wood. I also used rasps and files. I kicked the wood around on an asphalt street. I finished with stain and polyurethane.

-- http://www.garagebulletin.com/

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Stephenw

273 posts in 1013 days


#4 posted 768 days ago

I watched your video. One thing I noticed was your circular saw was tippy when you cut the ends off your table top. It would be better if your straight edge guide was on the motor side of your circular saw. This would be a much more stable cut and would improve safety.

Check this out…

http://www.woodsmithshop.com/download/308/7plywoodtips.pdf

-- http://www.garagebulletin.com/

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

3879 posts in 956 days


#5 posted 768 days ago

We have a couple “country” pieces that I like, which probably fit your description of rustic….

First is style… their pseudo-shaker. We’ve got two hutches and a large jelley cab.

Second is materials…. wide pine boards… mostly 1×12

Third is construction… though some of the pieces have raised panels, they are not perfectly aligned and flush. Also, there are lap joints that are pegged with rough looking pegs that aren’t perfectly round and which stand a little proud.

Fourth is finish… These pieces are finished with an opaque stain (kind of a oxe blood color). They sand rub patterns around all the knobs and around the swing of the wooden door latches. Then the pieces are waxed with a darkened bees wax to add a patina look.

Our house has a rustic… barny… type style…. so these pieces work very well for us. They were built buy a mom and pop furniture shop in the middle of nowhere.

I’ve always wanted to take a hand at knocking off the style to make some matching pieces and my wife contacted the original builders (who are now retired) to get their finish recipe. Hopefully we haven’t lost it.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Greg..the Cajun  Box Sculptor's profile

Greg..the Cajun Box Sculptor

4997 posts in 1936 days


#6 posted 768 days ago

Years ago I had a customer that wanted a desk that had an extremely work and rustic look to it. I built an oak desk and then had it sandblasted it to give the grain a old and weathered look. I did not have any sandblasting equipment but i found a place that did sandblasting and the blasted it for me for $25.
I think the finish looked fantastic and my client was also extremely pleased.

-- If retiring is having the time to be able to do what you enjoy then I have always been retired.

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

1447 posts in 1142 days


#7 posted 768 days ago

SawDustKing, you are welcome! And the idea from Greg, I had forgotten about that! Used to have a sand blaster just for that reason. Bought a cheap HF one and blew sand out in the driveway or yard onto the wood. Worked great, especially with woods where the age rings are predominant!

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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