Creating A Rustic Aged Wood Finish From A New Pine Board
There’s nothing warmer to the eyes than the rich look of warn barn wood. We are very fortunate where we live that actual rustic barnwood is still readily available. However, this is not the case in many parts of the country. So, we decided to walk you through a straightforward process we’ve used to recreate authentic looking distressed wood from new pine boards you can find at any lumber yard.
No matter what your project ideas include, from a replacement table top to a custom headboard, this method will give you a realistic rustic finish. If you decide to use this method on an existing piece of furniture, we recommend experimenting on a sample board or two before grinding into your furniture piece.
Our goal in this project is to get you familiar with a few common tools that will help you create a distressed rustic finish on any piece of wood. This method will work on both softwoods like pine and fir as well as common hardwoods like maple and oak. We love to distress knotty alder ourselves since it turns out one of the richest warm rustic looks of any wood species.
HERE IS WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO NEED FOR THIS PROJECT:
- (1) 1x6 8’ long pine board (cut into 4 – 2’ pieces for our example)
- Hammer, Philips Screwdriver, Plastic baggy filled with nuts and bolts, chain to distress wood
- Wood Chisel to sliver edges
- Rotary wire brush and drill
- Safety glasses
- Assorted wood screws
This photo shows most of the basic products we used. I will mention here that I have also used a drill with 3/16” bit to drill holes in my wood to look like old nail holes.
The process from here is simple in that you will begin to bang on the wood with these various tools to dent and damage the wood surface. Work at being random when banging on the wood to create a look of damage and dents that have happened over time.
Make sure to always have safety glasses on whenever performing any of this work including cutting the boards as well as distressing them. Flying sawdust and wood splinters can turn a fun project bad quickly without proper eye protection.
I like to begin by slapping the boards with the piece of chain because I like the larger dents it will create. From there you can drill a small hole in the wood then hit the surface with the hammer face at a slight angle to create the look of an old nail hole. Striking the surface with your bag of hardware will create different random impressions so experiment with this carefully.
Lastly, I like to lay a wood screw in its edge and strike it with the hammer to leave thread marks, I use 1-1 ½” long screws but any size will work well. The last step for me is to take my chisel and gouge slivers off the edges to soften the edges. So now we have new boards with several dents, dings, and distress marks but the boards still look new. Here is where the magic takes place.
Now we are going to take a wire wheel brush and carefully begin to work with the grain back and forth to remove just a little bit of the top wood surface. This step will bring out the exposed grain of the wood and will really enhance the look once we are ready to apply a finish to the boards. In the photo below, you can see how the top end of the board is smooth while the lower end of the wood has this exposed grain finish after using the wire wheel on it.
Be careful here again to experiment on a sample piece of same species wood so you have a feel for how quickly the brush will remove wood fibers.
Now you are ready to apply your favorite finish to the wood. In our next article I am going to explain a simple technique to take this new piece of wood and create an aged finish to it. This technique is one also used often to age the cut edge of authentic barnwood so we can use narrow pieces that look like they have aged that size for years. But for now, here is an example of how I've used these same techniques to age a new alder door before applying the final finish. Until next lesson.