Unfinished wooden furniture is considered to be a good choice for distressing. You can add age to the piece from the very beginning if you choose to paint or stain if for a final finish. Damaging wooden furniture could be therapeutic. However, you've to proceed cautiously because while you can add a distressed effect gradually, it's hard to restore any damaged area that you've already worked on. The final finish, stain or paint, must be as deceptively aged as the distressed mark.
Here's how you can distress wooden furniture.
First, bang on the furniture with a heavy object so as to make it look distressed from regular use. The circular end of ball-pen hammers work well for the whacking and putting a dent on a flat surface. A smooth, large rock would have a similar effect if you smash it onto the wood. Don't batter your piece beyond recognition. Rather, create random damages that look accrued over time.
Second, beat the furniture with a length of chain. Beat the chain on the edges as well as on the flat surface and see how much force is required for realistic denting. Exert caution, especially on the edges, to ensure that you don't remove chunks of wood with excessive force.
Third, round the edges to look as if they've worn out from friction. Use a sandpaper for flattening the rounded rungs of a chair's foot rails. Medium-grade sandpaper is better for quick flattening. You can finish with a finer grade sandpaper to eliminate all rough spots. Rub the edges of the drawers, seats and chest overhangs and flatten the wooden arms of the dining chairs. Think about the probable wear and tear and rub away the heavy-use regions. Barely touch the edged that aren't subject to daily wear and tear.
Fourth, reproduce the worm holes by driving an ice pick into your furniture in some random places and varying depths for every hole. All holes must be slanted and should naturally occur near the legs, although they could be anywhere. You can slightly stain the worm holes with ink to highlight them but be very subtle. Worm holes look their best on unpainted wooden furniture.
Finally, paint or stain your furniture after sanding gently all the marks of distress for eliminating any roughness. Forge an antique appearance by painting various colors on the piece of wooden furniture and thereafter sanding the layers off your paint for revealing the color below, just like an older piece that would show the years of paint at worn-out edges.
Remember, to pick a piece that can't be painted by bleaching an unfinished wood with a wooden bleach. Allow the bleach to soak into the wooden furniture and dry. Then, apply a regular paint on the surface and rub off some of the bleach in places with a cheesecloth. The paint would stain the wood and the rubbed-away areas would reveal the bleached and natural wood. You can leave the piece of wooden furniture in this way or finish it with a protective coating.
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