Antiquing and Distressing Techniques: Dents & Dings

In the first post of this series, I described ways of making worm holes to create an aged look for lumber. Here I offer tips for “banging up” a piece to give it that well-loved appearance.


I like a length of chain and a light-duty hammer. You don’t need a thick-gauge chain, but something with some heft and a bit of length to help with a “whip” action. The light-duty hammer keeps you from completely smashing the lumber. I wear leather gloves, especially with the chain.


Take a few practice swings with both the chain and hammer on some scrap wood (of similar species used in your project) to get a feel for how much force it takes to create the look you want. Make sure you have plenty of room to take these swings – you certainly don’t want to damage anything but your intended target. Once you’re happy with the look, then give your project a few whacks.

Try not to keep all the “character” localized to one area, but do create a few concentrated spots of dents and dings. You want a well-worn look, but not an intentional destruction zone.

You can highlight the dents much like the method I described for worm holes, by adding a slightly darker color. However, use a light touch – too dark a color will make it look artificial.

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