Is The Steel In Old Chisels Better Than New Ones Making Driftwood Picture Frames by Distressing New Picture Framing Timber

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Making Driftwood Picture Frames by Distressing New Picture Framing Timber

A driftwood picture frame is an elegant solution where you desire a unique distressed frame with timeless appeal. One of the techniques you can explore when framing your pictures is to use recycled timber or driftwood that you have collected but often driftwood timber is not available to everybody so you can try to create the look by using new timber you can get from your local hardware shop.

It’s not difficult to make a driftwood looking frame but it does take some time and experimentation. All you need to do is visit your hardware shop and get some plain hardwood timber. Sometimes you can get the timber already in a picture frame profile and other times you may need to rebate or rabbet it to accept the glass, backing and picture. Then you can cut it to make it into a picture frame to fit your photo or artwork.

Now the way to get the new picture frame to look like it really is driftwood is to start with the raw wood and then use various materials and tools to distress the surface of the timber.

The first step is to fill any imperfections or nail holes in the frame and sand them back so that you’ve got a perfectly made frame. The object of trying to get this frame to look recycled or distressed is that the surface mimics a weathered old look. To achieve this you can use an assortment of tools including chisels, rasps, any jagged bits of metal that you’ve got, bunches of keys and all sorts of things can be used to actually apply different marks into the wood to give it a more natural look.

Start by poking around and making a few holes and rough marks on the wood. You can scrape it using a surform type rasp or a cheese grater type scraper and you can leave it quite rough, don’t try to smooth it off. The idea here is that you’re going to expose the grain. Take care to avoid the inside edge where the picture fits because that is quite a thin and fragile area. Just concentrate on further back from the sight edge. Try to create a sort of random lot of holes all over the surface of the frame and then you start rasping at it and use various metal objects and tools. Any sort of rough metal tool can be used to apply texture to the frame.

Keep scraping along the moulding and remember you’re trying to replicate the natural look of recycled timber. Now when you get to the corners you’re going to need to use something a little bit pointy so that you can get right into those nooks. A good tool for this is an awl or small gouge. You can use sharpened screw drivers and old tools that have unusual surfaces. You can use bunches of nails they work quite well especially if you tape a whole lot of them together. Use the nails to scrape into the corners and other tight areas.

After you have given the frame a good going over what you want to do is take a look at the whole frame and step back from it. Have a look from a distance and see what the overall effect is. You don’t want anything too even. The appearance needs to be random and the texture wants to look natural. Take your time because you can always add more work to it. You can go back and you can chisel bits off, you can add more little holes and tap holes with nails.

After a while you’ve got a furry, fuzzy kind of wooden frame with all sorts of shavings hanging off it. You then can burn sections with a blowtorch burning off some of the wood shavings. In other areas you can raise the grain by dampening it with water. The water causes the wood fibers to swell creating a different level of texture.

Sandpaper the frame with various degrees of sandpaper and try to maintain the textures you have been building up through the distressing process. The sand papering is to give the frame some areas of smoothness and add another detail to the complexity of the surface.

Once you are happy with the overall texture you have created you can add some layers of diluted gesso or diluted white paint to give a limed finish. Don’t worry if the white colour picks up some of the charcoal leftover from the burning process because it adds to the grayed driftwood effect you are trying to emulate.

When the paint is dry add various colours of wax crayons or other pigmented oil pastels into sections of the frame moulding. Blend some of these colour layers with old kitchen scourers, steel wool or different grades of sandpaper.

Look at the frame from a distance and see if the finish is what you desire.

Soften and blend the tones within the frame by further sanding or rubbing with scourers or steel wool.

When you are happy with the look of the frame you can finish the surface with a light coating of a good furniture wax. For an added level of finish you can dust powdered rottenstone or pumice into the wax before it has dried. Apply the wax with a clean cloth and after allowing adequate time for drying you can buff the surface with a polishing cloth.

Your frame should then have a natural warm finish ready to insert your picture.

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