Aging Wood and Other Projects …. uniquely

In 2007 I started a small business making simple furniture and home accents. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on special glazes and tools so I experimented with unique ways to get the look I was going for with items around the house.
I loved Primitive style and “old” looking paint finishes.
In this post I have consolidated several past posts into one to make it easier for you to find these alternative techniques and see which ones work for your projects.
The above photos are from my most popular post A Salvaged Frame – where I use a petroleum jelly and spray paint to create a “chippy paint look”. You can click on the photos or the red highlighted links to take you to the original post. Using petroleum jelly was something I found on-line and not my original idea but I found that it works amazing. I tried caulk, wood filler and lotion in this same way but found that Vaseline type products worked best.
This bargain priced urn was painted white, then I used our coffee grounds from that morning and let them sit on the white paint to give it a perfectly aged look. See the post Coffee Antiqued Urn for more detailed instructions. I also use wood stain for this type of look which you will find in My Secret to Glazing Cabinets post.  The reason the coffee worked well here is that the paint was flat and the urn was porous.
From the beginning of my furniture making, the way I achieved the “glazed” look was by applying wood stain (dark walnut is my favorite color) into the wood details or to the exposed bare wood on a painted piece. I wanted the stain to spread around thinly over the paint to age it and stain wasn’t working great alone. One day I grabbed Baby Oil from our bathroom and dowsed an old t-shirt with it and started rubbing the stain into the wood painted areas of the furniture with the oiled shirt.
It was EXACTLY the look I wanted.
You can see other pieces of furniture done in this technique on my old website HERE.
(that site was prior to my blogging adventure – no tutorials)
You might wonder why I don’t use the glazes available at the home improvement stores. Well, I’ve tried a few of them. The results I got were too pink or purple and if you have read my Wall Colors page you know I have a weird thing about pink and purple on my walls or anything painted. By using only the dark walnut stain the glaze color stays more true in color. This is only my own opinion based on my experiences. There are lots of furniture re-finishers that use store glazes and they look great.
If you seal with poly – which I sometimes do – you just have to rub away the oily residue really well before applying the top coat. In my person experience, it still sticks and looks great and lasts!
How do I distress the wood? In this Distress Wood with a Razor Bade post I used – well – a razor blade. I mostly use an orbital hand sander with a 120 grit paper to sand away edges and that works awesome. On this furniture piece I wanted more wear in the middle of the drawers and top. The orbital motion doesn’t always look natural because the worn areas can end up looking “circular”. I don’t think paint naturally chips in circular shapes so by scraping a sharp blade along the wood going with the grain – the look I achieved looked more “natural”. You can use a Spackle knife rather than a razor but the sharper the better.
In my New {old} Foyer Table post I used a Spackle knife to achieve a sheer worn wood look. This post shows how I use an old T-shirt to rub in stain, too. If you brush stain on, you still have to wipe it anyway, so I wipe it on to begin with. I think I like a darker stain because I only need one coat – usually.

This Rustic Island Redo lives in the same kitchen as the white glazed cabinets above. Since this piece will get a lot of use I used lacquer to seal it after using stain and baby oil to glaze it. Poly works well, too but lacquer dries quicker and harder. See this post for more details. I hope these alternative aging techniques work well for you, too. I would love to read your feedback if you try them. You can post pictures on my Down to Earth Style Facebook page. Please share your favorite distressing techniques.

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[…] My Primer – distressing techniques, {Primp} My Primer – distressing techniques, Aging Wood and Other Projects …. uniquely, A Salvaged Frame, My Secret to Glazing Cabinets etc… – these are tried and true ways to […]


7 I started a small business making simple furniture and home accents. …


Hithis is really very helpful article. I go through this site really very nice information.thank for sharing such a nice information dave burke

Danni Baird @ Silo Hill Farm

Thank you! (Again) Pinned this one as I am planning to paint an old buffet that I can't stand looking at anymore and I'll need all the help I can get!


thanks for sharing these great ideas–i have to try the coffee grinds:)


Nice post,i like it…..Architects in Bangalore


Great post Holly! The coffee ground idea is awesome. Thanks for sharing your tips.


I've done all kinds of things to achieve the look I want too… When I first started working with reclaimed timber I'd use an angle grinder with a sanding disc on it to get the paint off and achiever a really mottley paint/timber look. And I tend to use burnt umber acrylic paint as my way of aging things.

Gee Singh Newbanks

I too prefer the dark walnut stain to glaze some of my pieces. Never thought of the coffee grounds though. Will have to try that and the baby oil method. Here's to a great week!Hugs, Gee


A sweet bloggy friend sent me to your blog……sooooooo glad. What a creative person you are! I have tried 'distressing' furniture with mixed results. Most books say you have to have this & that….. in the end cost an arm & a leg!

Shabby chic Sandy

Oh..thanks for sharing your Facebook page too–I liked it 🙂

Shabby chic Sandy

Love all your ways to distress–my new favorite is the vaseline–just have to perfect where to decide to put it. Also I love to use Rub n Buff–which I guess is basically like use a stain. You do a fantastic job!


Love all the looks and the money saving tips to achieve them. My bestie uses the coffee ground technique too. Beautiful pieces!