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Distress in antique wood furniture finishing

Physical distress or distress is a finishing technique in the antique finishing, it is done to mimic the antique old looked and ware furniture.  The distress is important step i the antique finishing to make more dramatic and natural antique looked.
Most of furniture products now are made in the industrial production processes using the modern machines and system. Therefore, the resulting products are tidy, same size, and uniform shape with flat and smooth surface. While the antique furniture is more hand made; It is made manually, with simple woodworking tool. The furniture also must be looked that it has been very long in use or stored so that already dirty, broke in some part, ware and damaged.

Therefore, to produce an antique appearance we need a finishing technique called distress or physical distress. Distress or physical distress is a technique to make the damages on the furniture product to imitate the appearance of old furniture product. The distress is to create the damages due to age and usage, and to copy the appearance of the imperfects product since of the manually process production in the past. This distress is usually done in the beginning of the process of finishing, before the application of stain and other finishing material. Then by the application finishing materials such as stain and glaze it will produce furniture with a desired appearance as already damaged, soiled, stained, dirty old look furniture.

The tools for distress 
Distresses can be done with many tools to produce the defects appearance at the new furniture  product. There are many tools can be used to do the distress such as: nails, chisels, stone, cheap, chain, etc. There could be some special tools is made to do distress. The tool used is depend on the damaged looked that want to be made.
Below are some tools that mostly used in making antique looked furniture.
  • Nail
The nail is usually used to make small holes on the surface of furniture or groove shape on the surface of the wood. With the glaze application the holes will imitate wormholes, the appearance of wood that was eaten termites, bugs or warm. The size and amount of holes depends on the desired appearance. Usually the holes and the groove are made in certain places such as at the ends of the panel or in the corners of the foot, the places where a favored place for the bugs to eat and stay.


The wormhole distress by nail

  • File and grind 
File and grind are the tools to create the curved form in furniture-making process in earlier times. At that time file and grind is used to make a specific form of the arch form and then the result surface is then polished with stone to smooth the surface. At that time the machines for furniture production such as sanding machines, sandpaper, are not yet available. Now we use the file and grind to copy the looked of manually process in making furniture It could also be applied to the surface to produce the impression of damaged items such as impact marks and scratches.

 File and grind

  • Keys, bolts and chains, rocks, hammer. 
These tools are used to produce the damage damages arising from the clashes at a furniture product when used. There area many damaged look can be made by using that tool. We can also make the special chain, to produce the effect we need.

The chain of keys, bolt, nut

Hammer, rock

The distressed finish

  • Chisel and scrapper 
Chisel is a tool to create a carving or  specific form in furniture products, while the scrapper is a tool used to flatten the surface in the past. In the process of antique finishing, these tools are used to replicate the performance results from manufacturing processes in earlier times. In distress, the chisel is used to make the scratches, holes or deep cracks. While the scrapper is used to produce a uneven surface to imitate the result of manually processed looked in the furniture making.

The chisel and scrapper

The result of distress by chisel and scrapper

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