Works in Progress #2: beatin' up my oak

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Blog entry by tyskkvinna posted 06-24-2010 05:36 PM 1213 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Clockwork Part 2 of Works in Progress series no next part

I’ve gone through and painted all of the pieces.. and have sanded about half of them.

I’m amazingly unhappy with the cherry, overall. It’s just …... not what I wanted, I guess. It’s very flaky? Moreso than the other cherry I’ve worked with. Guess I can’t complain – I got it for free out of a burn-pile from a cabinet maker, so obviously it wasn’t a “great” piece of wood to start.

Here is that piece of oak again. Red or white?

My customers have shown a preference for wood that is reclaimed. Which is cool with me, because I buy maaaaaaaaybe 5% of my wood, and usually then it is exotics for me to play with. The problem I have encountered is most of my customers love the engraving work I do, but also the “worn out” look of reclaimed wood. I can’t stick a raw log into the sheet router unless I’m doing 3d relief work (and even then, eh, iffy) but people seem to think that wood comes flat and ready to go.

As such, I’ve been learning my way around finishing wood so that it looks like it’s been weathered severely and has that good ol’ outdoor rustic charm.Without fail, it sells faster than my “clean” pieces.

I took to this (front side of above pic) with ammonia. The black corner was rough – a dip that didn’t get properly planed.

It sure has a lot of charm, though.

I’ve used ammonia on oak before with brilliant results, so I’m kind of disappointed here. It could be so much better! Darker! Gnarly looking! I’m going to get some vinegar & steel wool today and mix up some and try coating it with that tomorrow. Any other suggestions would be great!

And if you know any way to kind of beat the pulp out of terrible, flaky cherry please let me know. I coated a couple of pieces of it with ammonia just for kicks. When it dried, there was a subtle colour change (much browner) but not darker at all.

I want …. I don’t know. I have no idea to be honest.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

8 comments so far

View patron's profile


13604 posts in 3341 days

#1 posted 06-24-2010 05:50 PM

get some barn boards ,
you can find them in just about every color and patina ,
find a neutral stain , or paint the fresh cut eges too .
lots easier than ‘antiquing’ new wood .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3036 days

#2 posted 06-24-2010 05:52 PM

Its fun to see you playing, Lis.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3648 days

#3 posted 06-24-2010 05:53 PM

very cool work Lis.

FYI, that oak looks like red oak. the grain on white oak is a bit less distinct and straight. really like the carvings and the colors used!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2986 days

#4 posted 06-24-2010 06:02 PM

Once I’ve got the shop back up and running I’m going to hunt down some barn boards.. there are many barns in the area that are dying/dilapidated .. but right now I have nowhere to keep them!

Also these are just the cutoffs .. I get a lot of big boards but grab any little one that looks neat.

and thanks!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Gary's profile


9331 posts in 3433 days

#5 posted 06-24-2010 06:52 PM

Try lye. I use that to darken wood. You can keep putting it on in stages. Nutralize with vinegar/water mix

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#6 posted 06-24-2010 09:47 PM

I think the barn boards will do great. It is amazing we spend so much time getting that perfect finish when as you said the rough finishes sell better sometimes. I love watching the process! Keep posting pictures as you go. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3354 days

#7 posted 06-24-2010 09:51 PM

Love the engraving.. nice patterns..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View rwyoung's profile


409 posts in 3472 days

#8 posted 06-24-2010 10:14 PM

The oak you show looks like red oak. Easy way to tell the difference between red and white oak when all else fails is to look at the end grain. Red oak end grain is very open, so open you can blow air through it and make bubbles in a tray of soapy water. White oak end grain is closed.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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