How to Age and Distress Wood

Woodworking Workshop
How to Age and Distress Wood

I’ve recently been learning how to do weathering for scale models and gaming miniatures, so when I bumped into Eloy Escagedo’s video on Facebook, on how to distress wood, it immediately caught my attention. I’m now fascinated by all methods of weathering, aging, distressing, regardless of the scale of the thing being aged.

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In Eloy’s video, he shows you a number of the common techniques used in wood distressing and the tools needed to achieve them. The main tools he uses are: hammer (for denting), a drywall saw (for scrapping and scratching), an awl (for creating bug and worn holes), a chain (for adding randomized dents, bumps, and dings), a steel brush (for adding micro-scratching), an angle grinder (for deep gouging and shaping), and finally, a blow torch (for discoloring the wood and adding contrast).

It doesn’t look like much (or, in fact, it kind of looks like too much) while he’s beating, scratching, poking, and burning, but once he adds the stain and varnish, the surface really comes alive and you can see that all of the effort pays off. The wood surfaces he is distressing are for two benches to be used on a farm table he’s also building.

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In this video for WoodWorkWeb, Colin Knecht offers his take on aging and distressing techniques. Most of them are the same as in Eloy’s video, but he also uses some randomly applied black paint (ebony dye), a few different tools (scrappers, a hole-cutting bit, files), and he offers some tips I have not encountered in distressing, such as using a mechanic’s vise to press the chain into the wood instead of just randomly slamming it into the lumber. He also finishes the board he distresses in the demo with different stains and dyes so that you can see how these finishes look with the various distressing techniques.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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