How to Age and Distress Wood

About: I love woodworking and making fun stuff on the lathe, I really enjoy making stuff and posting it on this website, and I love the Hobbit

I turned a harry potter wand out of Hickory wood months ago. I wasn't quite satisfied with the result of that project. I wanted the wood to look a little more aged and antique. Follow this easy instructable on how to age and distress wood.

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Step 1: Sanding

If your project has a gloss finish (or any finish at all), sand it off I used some 300 grit to get it off. Make sure it is completely gone because it will be important afterwards. Once your wood is sanded, you could move on to the next step.

Step 2: Carving in Scratches (optional)

If you happen to have a V-gouge laying around somewhere, then great! Take your v-gouge and carve in some nice long scratches going lengthwise down your piece. Make sure that the scratches are in the same direction as the wood grain. There isn't any particular order or limit to the scratches, just freehand it until you think it looks good.

Step 3: Burn

To really age the wood and get that nice antique look, take a barbecue lighter or even some matches and very carefully run the flame along the wood. Do not stay in one spot too long. Before you start to burn the wood a little bit, make sure that the old finish or stain that used to be on your piece is completely gone, otherwise it will light on fire VERY quickly. Once you are done with the matches or whatever you are using, then sand the burns off a little. DO NOT use very coarse sandpaper. I used 1500 grit and I only sanded the piece for less than a minute.

Step 4: Finishing Your Piece

I don't think the wand I made would look right with a thick gloss finish after doing all the distressing to it. So I popped a can of paste wax open and put some on it. Once all the wax is applied, take some paper towel and polish it off. The wax will get inside all the scratches and the lines that I have running around the handle of the wand so I put the paper towel over a tiny flat head screwdriver and just scraped it out. Now you are done

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    6 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    yeah i have done that with a lot of other pieces on my lathe. Before I cut the ends off on the wand, I really liked how it looked. But I glossed it and let it dry on a sheet of masking paper that had spraypaint on it, so some of the paint got on the wet gloss, so I decided to sand it all off and do the stuff up top :)

    1 reply