How to Make Weathered Wood

The rustic look of weathered wood can be simulated for projects.
The rustic look of weathered wood can be simulated for projects. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

As the old saying goes, "everything old is new again." When you're planning a wood project and want the final product to have an aged look, finding old pieces of wood to incorporate into your creation can become a treasure hunt of sorts. If you come up empty-handed, however, there's another option to consider that simply involves distressing new wood. Armed with a battery of tools that you will use in unusual ways, you can create something old out of something new that has a believable authenticity.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire brush
  • Sandpaper, fine grain
  • Heavy chain
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Steel wool
  • Paintbrush

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Rub the wood with sandpaper to soften it and round any sharp corners. This will simulate natural wear on the wood. This can be done repeatedly throughout the process to add to the weathered look.

Brush the wood with a wire brush to further soften it, to wear down corners and to add nicks and gouges. Brush the wood in different directions using varying pressure to add to the look of irregular wear.

Hit the wood with the chain to create dents, gouges and dings like those that result from everyday use.

Hammer nails into the wood, then remove them. Tap nails gently against the wood to create dents. Scatter the nail holes unevenly in the wood. Hit the wood with the hammer in a random pattern using varying strength. Let the hammer bounce on the wood to create multiple dents in a smaller area.

Dip the steel wool in a solution of vinegar and water and leave it outside for a few days to rust. Pull the rusted steel wool apart to separate the fibers. Place the fibers in a container with 1 cup each of white vinegar and water. Allow the solution to dissolve the steel wool.

Paint the wood with the steel wool solution. It will make the wood look like it has been grayed from the weather.

Tips & Warnings

  • If desired, strip the paint on the wood and repaint it before starting. This will give the new paint a weathered look as well.
  • Use additional tools and techniques to add character to the wood.
  • Do not pull the rusted steel wool apart if you have any open wounds on your hands. Use gloves to protect your hands.


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