Antiquing and Distressing Techniques: Worn Edges

Corners take their fair share of abuse. Look at any desk, table, or bookcase with a bit of age on it and you’ll find a chunk missing or areas eroded down. Moving (from room to room or across country) and just plain ol’ everyday use will create these beloved features.

 On new projects I create I’m doing my best to avoid any sort of imperfection – that is unless I’m going for that look. I used to cringe at being asked to create a distressed piece. Now I almost hope someone asks me to do it.

 I use a couple of easy techniques for edges and corners that anyone can recreate.


Yep, just scoop out a chunk right along the edge. Use a sharp pocket knife or a chisel. I vary it from large scoops to notches. The trick is learning how to make just enough marks to look natural, yet not too many to look manufactured. On the latter, think of some “high end” catalogue pieces you’ve seen – a pattern should NOT exist when it comes to creating a natural worn look.

Be sure to whittle where it makes sense to see chunks taken out of a project. Imagine yourself moving the piece. Could you see a certain part bumping into a wall easily? What would happen if it dropped on a sidewalk? Keep these things in mind.

One other tip: You want these scoops and notches to look like they’ve been their for years, so do some sanding to smooth any sharp edges.


As simple as it gets. The above photo is of a sanding sponge. I use them on softwoods to give that slightly rounded over appearance to a corner, as if a hand has run along it hundreds of times. You can get more aggressive with a detail sander, but don’t go crazy.

Again, think of natural wear and tear. The front edge of a desk is a natural area to wear down, but the top edge of a six-foot bookcase is not.

Be sure to like Chief’s Shop on Facebook! At 1,000 likes someone will be selected to receive a box of 500 Kreg pocket hole screws.

Make Some Sawdust!


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.

%d bloggers like this: