Thursday, August 7, 2014

The DIY Spree Continues, Making New Wood Look Old

Earlier this summer, Mr. W and I used some wood leftover from another project to make some planting boxes.  I didn't like the way the bare wood looked, so for the first box, I brushed on some light walnut stain.  It's not bad, but it's not the look I was hoping for.  I wanted something that had the appearance of age.  Like it had been sitting around a potting shed for the last 50 years.

This is my salad box stained with light walnut.  Those are little lettuce seedlings.  

I played around with some other colors of stain we had in the garage.  I made swatches on a piece of scrap wood, but none of them were giving me the aged look, so I searched the internet for some ideas.

Lots of websites had recipes for mixing different colors of stain to achieve an old, weathered look, but I didn't want to buy multiple cans of stain for just a few small projects.  The technique that appealed most to me was using vinegar.  It's super simple and you can make gallons of this stuff for just a few bucks.  There is no guarantee on what your final color will be because it's not really a stain, but a method of speed oxidizing the wood.  I could explain the science behind it, but do you really care?  Bottom line is that you can use this concoction to get a cool, aged look in just a few minutes, but the color will vary depending on what kind of wood you have.

To make this magical concoction, you'll need a container, distilled white vinegar and some steel wool.  You will also need a paint brush and gloves.  I can't stress this strongly enough, DO NOT skip the gloves!  Not because this mixture will burn your skin (it won't), but because it will stain your hands.  Badly.  You will look like you haven't washed your hands since elementary school.  Old clothes are probably a good idea, too, because it will also stain your clothes.

Okay, now pay attention because this gets pretty tricky.  Pour some vinegar (a few cups or so) into your container.  Pull the steel wool apart a little and add it to the vinegar.  Now let it sit overnight.  I've heard you can cover the container, but I didn't bother.  If you think someone in your family may mistake it for salad dressing or a beverage, you might want to.

Application is equally tricky; paint it onto the wood you want to age.  There is no right or wrong way to do this, but you do want to try to avoid drips because they will show once the wood is dry.

Five minutes after painting the stain on the center portion, you can see how much it has "aged".

Now stand back and watch the magic happen.  The wood will age right before your eyes.  It will get lighter as it dries, but it will still look really cool and agey.  Like it's been sitting around for 50 years.

My "50 year old" planting box.

I'd love to hear about your results if you try this.

Coming up next on our DIY spree, a sweet treat.


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bill lisleman said...

I never heard of this. There are so many uses for vinegar. The acid in the vinegar must react with the steel wool. Did the steel wool look rusted the next day? Nice looking planter.

Jenny said...

That salad box is gorgeous! I like your aging technique!