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My brother in law Steve is an interesting person in that he has style, taste, a flair for interior decorating and likes to beat pieces of furniture with chains! Now to the average handy person this is the last thing you would want to do to a nice piece of furniture that you may have made or just restored. Well let me reassure you that Steve is not really crazy all he is doing is distressing the piece of furniture. Then again as I always say, wouldn’t you be distressed if someone hit you with a chain? The reason for this strange action is to make new furniture look old or ‘antiquing’. This process, of aging, can be achieved in many ways.
Now let’s assume that you have a nice new piece of furniture that you are going to finish with one of the antique finishes that I will tell you about, and then your first step may be to artificially age the piece. If the piece is newly made and no finish has been applied this is just right, if the item is painted or varnished then these finishes must be stripped off before starting the distressing process. Using sandpaper lightly smooth round sharp corners or timber edges then take a length of heavy duty chain ( available from your local hardware store) and ‘gently’ beat the flat surfaces of the piece to cause a few dings and dents that may have naturally occurred with the ravages of time. You may also want to use the ball of a ball pein hammer to create the same effect where beating with the chain may not be practical. A word of warning, don’t be too energetic or over enthusiastic, all you are trying to do is recreate the way a piece of furniture would age over the years under normal usage and not how it would look after a few years use in the local kindergarten! Another sign of aging may be a few worm holes, to recreate these use a sharp brad awl and once again don’t make the surface look as though has been the victim of a plague of borer.
When you have achieved the effects you want then sand back any rough edges and choose how you want to finish the piece. You may want to simply varnish at this stage or use a Danish Oil finish or you may wish to try one of the following:
Cracked paint. The simplest method of achieving this effect is to visit the Paint Department of your local paint store where they will have a selection of ready to use product available.
Aged paint effect. Paint the item with a semi gloss or matt finish enamel paint in the colour of your choice, leave it to dry completely. Now you need to make a transparent glaze by mixing thinned varnish with a dark colour tint, apply this glaze to the painted furniture. Then wipe off, with a lint free rag, this will leave recessed surfaces darker than the flat surfaces giving that worn aged look.
To achieve a fake wood grain effect, paint the piece with a light colour base, when this is dry paint over with a darker colour (make sure you use the same type of paint for the base and top coats). Create the grain by removing some of the top coat whilst its wet using a graining tool, paint brush or steel comb. Use your imagination to create straight grain, whorls, knots, wavy lines etc. Above all have fun and experiment!
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