The Antique Look

Creating an “Old Looking Finish”

Here are a few suggestions on how to give an antique look to an inexpensive piece of unfinished furniture.

This is a fun project that involves “beating up” a piece of furniture. You’ll need a chain, an ice pick and a variety of stains and paints to create an “old” looking finish.

The ice pick is used to simulate worm holes or insect damage. The chain is used to create years of wear and tear which is visible on the finish of many antiques. The stains and paints are used to create a slightly multi-colored finish. By applying different coats of paint, the “damage” you inflict on the furniture allows the different colors to show through one another.


But what are these chains and the ice pick for?


Some standard items are a pine dresser, some paint and some brushes.

Take a brand new pine dresser, like you can pick up at any unfinished furniture store. What you’re going to do is give it a time-worn look. You’re going to use the chains and ice picks to “help it along.” Think about it, a 50 or 100 year old piece of furniture sees a lot of abuse. It’s probably seen a few different houses, kids, grandkids and maybe even great grandkids. And who knows how many coats of paint.

You’re going to actually hit the dresser with the chains! This is going to be fun!

But before you start to “age” the wood, take some shellac and seal any knots in the wood. This way as the wood ages, any resin that seeps out of the knots won’t discolor the finish.


Time to go to work now! Take the ice pick, and the chain, and just go ahead and select an area and start poking at it. This will simulate insect damage.

You really can’t make any mistakes here.
Now you can take a turn at the chain and “beat” the dresser.


How beat up should you make it?


Don’t go too crazy, but it’s really difficult to overdo it. Concentrate on areas where a dresser would get the most abuse — around the corners and on the drawers.

After you create the “aged” finish, what’s the next step?


Next you’ll want to stain the entire piece of furniture using a water-based, dark mahogany stain.

The stain will serve as a base for the rest of the process.


After staining what’s next?


After the stain dries, apply the first coat of paint. For example you could use light yellow for the first coat and then apply green for the top coat. Use your imagination. You can use any color combination you want, blue and red, anything, but try to find two colors that complement each other.

You just give the whole dresser a coat of paint.

Just let it dry overnight, and then sand the surface with a medium grit sandpaper, then wipe off any dust. That will give the next coat of paint a good surface to adhere to.

Next, you’re going to apply a second coat of paint (in this case green over the yellow).

So now you’ve got three different colors on the dresser.


Now it’s time to start taking them off. Let the green paint dry. Then take your sandpaper — start with medium — and begin to remove the paint layers. Work in the high wear areas again — around the corners and the drawers — and “wear off” the layers of paint until you get an effect you like.

This is will really start to look like you found it at a flea market.
That’s the idea. Once you’ve sanded the paint down, wipe it clean again.


Are you almost done?


Once you’ve sanded the piece to your liking, the final step is the easiest. You just apply some antique pine furniture wax with a soft, lint-free cloth. Allow it to dry and buff with a soft cloth for a soft sheen.
Besides being an interesting project, this technique is a great way to relieve stress!