Dry Brushing

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Add age and character with this simple technique by Michael Dresdner

An instant antique. With a badger or China-bristle brush and a bit of Japan color, you can enhance wood grain, create fake grain patterns, or "antique" a surface like this white cabinet door in just minutes.

Dry brushing is a finishing technique that lets you add instant grain pattern or color to raw or painted wood. It gives you more control over your work than any other coloring technique. Other coloring methods, like staining, glazing, and shading, use liquid color, which can run or drip where you don't want it. With dry brushing, you "scrub" just the tips of a dry brush through a small, creamy puddle of Japan color. (Sec top center photo, opposite.) Then you glance the dirtied bristles against your workpiece. Since the bristles are almost dry, the color stays right where you put it.

In this article, I'll show you how to use dry brushing to enhance the existing grain of flat wood surfaces, to add fake grain or figure where there is none, or to accentuate the high spots on carvings, turnings, or moldings. Then HI wrap up with an antique white finish that looks exactly like aged white paint.

How Dry Brushing Works

Even finely sanded wood is a rough surface, littered with pores and irregularities. Pigment-loaded bristles hang up on these spots, leaving color behind.

Dry brushing works well on any rough or porous surface, including raw wood and rough paints such as white primer. It doesn't work well on perfectly smooth surfaces, such as gloss lacquer or varnish.

Tools of the Trade

Buy the best natural-bristle brush you can afford. Poor-quality brushes have bristles that are ragged and uneven at the tip, and that will make it more difficult to control the color. My two favorites are a 2-in. double-thick badger brush and a 2-in. double-thick China bristle brush.

You'll also need a flat palette to load the color from, a small brush to transfer your color mixture to the palette, and a


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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

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