Monday, June 11, 2012

Steampunk on Monday: Aging Wood.

(Please, no coarse jokes
about Sean Connery)

There's a lot of tutorials about aging paper
from the quick and dirty (hit it with a tea bag)
to the meticulous and thorough.
The latter comes from the remarkable Propnomicon.
 So if you want a tutorial on faking paper the
grown-up way, go over there.
Propnomicon's blog
is well worth examining for the diversity and 
excellence of its features.

Yes, all kinds of ways to age paper.
Very little information about aging wood.

Not, you'll note, distress wood.

Any fool can distress wood.

(It just takes muscle,
six inch nails and a stout bicycle chain.
I'm not condoning violence, you understand.
I'm merely acknowledging that
 these things will get the job done)

No, ageing wood uses chemistry 
and a deeply satisfyingly alchemical  process it is.
I found the process here.
It doesn't take any toxic reagents
Just tea and vinegar and steel wool.
You probably have all of those, right?

 I'd bought a little box with drawers,
but it looked really raw and new.

From Hobby Lobby. $8+. With handles.
 Not at all suitable for the Steampunk Study.
So I tried the tea and vinegar
and steel wool technique
and wow!

Vinegar and steel wool. Jar of cold tea.
It works!

You need to start the day before,
with the steel wool in the vinegar.
Let it sit for 24 hours.
Paint on the strong tea.
Let that dry.
and then paint on the
vinegar messy mix.
Then watch.

Experiment on left. Control on right.
After 5 minutes.

Experiment on left. Control on right.
After 10 minutes.

Experiment on right. Control on left.
After 30 minutes.
The wood darkens dramatically.

What's really cool is that you have
 absolutely no control over the process!
The change in colour depends on the kind of wood,
the strength of the solutions,
the temperature...
It's not magic.
It's Science!

What you end up with looks like
wood that has had decades of abuse.
Even when the drawers are opened
 the piece looks old inside and out.

For those of you making Vampire Killing Kits
(and I ask you, who isn't?)
the technique works on corks for your phials
of  powdered garlic, flowers of sulphur or whatever.

The vinegar mix also adds a nice patina
and about a hundred years of use,
to the cheap, brassy label holders.

Now the drawers need a darker glaze on the outside,
and the little label holders screwed on,
When I can find small screws.


  1. That is so cool! Thanks for posting this..I have some "new" looking wood things that I am going to try this on! :O)

    1. let me know how it goes! The ingredients are cheap enough to cover all kinds of things to sive them a weathered look.

  2. thanks for sharing !!!
    gives a wonderful look!!
    Sean Connery. .....ahahahahahahaha!!!!!

  3. Great tutorial on aging wood. I've been really interested in natural wood stains lately- I find it all very fascinating! Fabulous tip about the vinegar on brass too! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I was surprised to find it worked on cheaper brass plated stuff. I thought they were covered in lacquer or something. But it seemed to come out ok. Now trying it on a pair of brassed bolts.

  4. Wow! How cool that it also works on brass!!!

    When I made the vinegar solution I skipped the tea or should I say I drank it. OPPS! :)


    1. I'm not sure how necessary the tea is? The science says that the tannins are useful but I suspect the iron in the acidic vinegar does most of the work. Drinking the tea is fine, too. Can't be doing this kind of thing without a cup o'tea!


I am At Home for comments....