Finishing/preserving distressed old wood

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Forum topic by sethb posted 553 days ago 2656 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 553 days

553 days ago

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 553 days

#1 posted 553 days ago

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.

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2308 posts in 1519 days

#2 posted 553 days ago

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

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

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750 posts in 1621 days

#3 posted 552 days ago

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

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1127 posts in 2506 days

#4 posted 552 days ago

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.

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5 posts in 553 days

#5 posted 548 days ago

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 74 days

#6 posted 74 days ago

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

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