Finishing/preserving distressed old wood

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Forum topic by sethb posted 02-25-2013 08:10 AM 11587 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 2156 days

02-25-2013 08:10 AM

I brought this old piece of wood home because I like the grey weathering and the stenciling. Along with another old rough sawn piece I’m making a simple consol table/entry table. I used a brush and compressed air to clean the wood as much as possible. I don’t want to sand it because that would destroy stenciling, I’d love to keep the grey weathered look as is…

Is there any finish that would protect the look without darkening? I know it’s a long shot, all my tests on a scrap piece have not kept the look. Googling only brings up how to distress wood, not preserve wood that’s already old and grey. I’ve tried spray shellac, water based poly, vermont natural polywhey and wax… I’m thinking maybe spray lacquer.

I appreciate any tips… thanks

6 replies so far

View jdbott's profile


1 post in 2155 days

#1 posted 02-25-2013 01:00 PM

I think I would give it 3 coats of Tung Oil, letting each coat dry indoors overnight (given our winter temps). You could steel wool with 0000 before the last coat.

-- Sometimes you have to decide whether you want to be right or be kind.

View Manitario's profile


2704 posts in 3121 days

#2 posted 02-25-2013 02:06 PM

Water based poly will give you about as clear a finish as you can get…

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3224 days

#3 posted 02-25-2013 03:37 PM

a really blonde shellac could also work well, but you would need to buy it in flake form and mix it yourself. Most any finish is going to darken it some, though.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View CharlesNeil's profile


2469 posts in 4109 days

#4 posted 02-25-2013 06:11 PM

Pretty much anything you put on there will darken it some, Water base anyhting will have the least effect, it may appear darker, so do a small test and see what it looks like after it dries a couple of days , you can wipe it with water and see how much it will change it. My thinking is it should be less change after it dries. Water base products have no reactive properties, anything solvent from an oil to even wax will change it more.

View sethb's profile


5 posts in 2156 days

#5 posted 03-01-2013 10:11 PM

Thanks for your input. I decided to go with the Vermont Natural Coating Polywhey satin. It’s water based and extremely easy to apply. It darkened the wood, especially the grey top. I sanded the bottom of the piece which got rid of the grey and the finish barely changed that color… the bottom piece of wood also stayed pretty close to its original color. You can see it bellow.. thanks again.

View mradomski's profile


1 post in 1677 days

#6 posted 06-18-2014 09:29 PM

Hey Sethb, what did you use for the table legs.

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