my Old Workshop

Faux wood finish technique a low-cost alternative

Want to make the trim in your home office out of mahogany? Popular in Victorian homes, it’s not that easy to find these days, and if you do manage to find some, be prepared to get a loan. But here’s a way to make cheaper stocks or MDF look just like mahogany. With a few tools and some paint, you’ll perform magic. Use it on trim or moldings, or spruce up an old table or chairs.

Here’s what you need:

Paint, thinners and finish: dusky pink satin; artists’ oil paints in burnt sienna, burnt umber, and crimson; varsol or turpentine; varnish or satin urethane in can or spray.

Tools: a paint pot, a small artists’ brush, a stippling brush or old artists’ brush, and an ordinary paint brush about 4″ wide.

Start by painting the entire surface with a two coats of the pink paint. Next tint some of the burnt sienna with crimson, and thin with the turpentine until it’s like thick cream. Using the artists’ brush, apply the paint in overlapping strokes forming inverted Vs down the center of the piece. Now, thin some burnt umber to the same consistency and fill in the gaps on either side, cross-hatching with long brush strokes.

Before the paint can dry, stipple the surface with the dry stippling brush, softening and blending the paint. With the paint still wet, it’s time to begin to apply the “grain”. Hold a dry wide paintbrush nearly parallel with the surface and drag it through the paint, making elongated curves in the general direction of the “grain”.

Let the paint dry for a few hours, but before it’s completely dry, drag the dry wide brush along the length of the surface in one direction. Let the paint dry completely and apply a few protective coats of varnish or urethane.

Paint magic. This “mantel” is made of pine and MDF.