how does one distress furniture?

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Forum topic by rusticderek posted 01-19-2014 04:36 PM 1107 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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01-19-2014 04:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip trick pine sander finishing refurbishing sanding arts and crafts rustic shaker

I recently started making simple small stools. after painting them I wanted something more. I had seen distressed furniture in re-sale and consignment shops in the Houston area. that look is what I want for my stools. does anyone have some techniques for accomplishing furniture distressing?

-- derek, texas

18 replies so far

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8165 posts in 3070 days

#1 posted 01-19-2014 04:38 PM

Chains. Wire brushing.

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#2 posted 01-19-2014 04:44 PM

Couple of hours at a daycare ought to do the trick:)

-- Rick

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1420 posts in 2185 days

#3 posted 01-19-2014 04:45 PM

I watched some guys at an El Paso Import Company use chains and wire brushes. When they saw me watching, they closed the door !

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

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8165 posts in 3070 days

#4 posted 01-19-2014 04:56 PM

Yeah, there’s technique to it. You can do some cool stuff
with milk paint too. You can get “crackle” sizing for it that
makes it craze, revealing the layer underneath.

I just learned about making stain by dissolving roof tar
in mineral spirits. You can make glazes and things like
that from it to rub into recessed areas.

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159 posts in 2096 days

#5 posted 01-19-2014 05:14 PM

I personally prefer distressing if it looks like it was from everyday use. I see alot of places sell distressed furniture but it looks like it was hit with screws and nails and an angle grinder but with no rhyme or reason to why they distressed it.

You need to think about how the item you are distressing was used or will be used to understand how and where to distress it.

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#6 posted 01-19-2014 07:25 PM

any search engine would refer you to some techniques.

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6474 posts in 1572 days

#7 posted 01-19-2014 07:25 PM

You could chuck it off the roof of your house.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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933 posts in 2115 days

#8 posted 01-19-2014 07:30 PM

Tell it a sad sad story of how the LJ site is changing and it will be very distressed.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

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993 posts in 1351 days

#9 posted 01-19-2014 07:37 PM

Apparently by putting Minwax Polyshades on it!

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

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Charles Maxwell

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#10 posted 01-19-2014 07:39 PM

Go to and search on ‘painted furniture.’ There, you will find hundreds of references to review on how to distress furniture. It’s a whole new world!!!

-- Max the "night janitor" at

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1663 posts in 1762 days

#11 posted 01-19-2014 08:25 PM

Tie to to your pick-up truck and tow it through the parking lot. Use a Ford ranger for the fine work and a 4X4 F-150 for the rough work

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

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186 posts in 1197 days

#12 posted 01-19-2014 08:35 PM

Distressed is supposed to describe used so rubbing all the finish of the corners is not going to accomplish that. Just rub off the parts that might get used, the middle of a rail, etc. on’t take off too much, just enough that a foot might over a long use. Subtle is best, bang the corners a bit but they won’t be bald, just dented. It’s a game of what if.

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Nicholas Hall

350 posts in 1529 days

#13 posted 01-19-2014 09:09 PM

Friends don’t let friends distress furniture…

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

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115177 posts in 2999 days

#14 posted 01-19-2014 09:29 PM

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#15 posted 01-19-2014 10:22 PM

Just about any tool will work, really depends on the look your going for. I would just take some scrap and start beating on it. Use different tools till you get the look your going for.

I believe there’s a difference between antiquing and distressing, I would say antiquing is making it look used/old and distressing is making it look abused.

Something like that would really just need some sanding edges down to look used, layers of paint sanded to look used.

Really just Google it, there is Gigabytes of info on this, I don’t like the look at all but that’s JMO.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

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