my Old Workshop

How to age new wood so it looks old

There’s nothing like old wood. Wide old planks, rustic weathering, rich patinas… these are qualities you just can’t recreate using new wood.

If you like the character of antiques, old buildings, and weathered or aged wood, why not use old wood in your new projects — whether it’s furniture, trim or paneling?

Some suppliers offer salvaged wood — planks, beams and posts — from old homes, barns and factories. You can also find old windows, doors, mantles, baseboards, wainscoting and casing. These suppliers often offer to take down an old structure for an owner at no charge. In return, they keep the salvage material for resale.

Of course, you can go directly to the old place itself. Take a drive in the countryside, keeping an eye out for abandoned barns and homes. A little investigation will track down the owner, and you might be able to arrange a partial salvage yourself.

Visit renovations. Sometimes renovators will simply toss out old doors and windows they’ve removed as part of the renovation. Ask if you can take them away, or make them an offer.

Of course, no matter what the project, you’ll have to do some cutting. And then you’ll notice a little problem… the fresh cut won’t match the weathered look of the rest of the piece. Here’s a way to recreate that look. Mix iron filings and pickling vinegar. When the filings have dissolved, filter the liquid through cheesecloth. Then paint it on the wood. Within 15 minutes, the wood will gray. You can lighten the color afterward with oxalic acid from the drugstore, or darken it with a pot of strong tea and more of your vinegar/iron solution. When it’s perfect, mix up some baking soda and water and apply it. This will fix your color.