Step-by-Step: “The Briwax Guy’s How to Age Pine”
The aging technique described here is a simplification of the traditional method used extensively by furniture restorers in the Pine Furniture Industry.
Supplies for this project:
- Sodium Hydroxide (Household Drain Opener, such as Liquid Plumber)
- Water (Mix 1 part Household Drain Opener and 1 part water)
- An old rag (a brush will have the aging mixture everywhere)
- For really big pieces, use a spray bottle to hold the aging solution or a bug sprayer also works well.
- Any tools for distressing, if needed
- Rubber gloves to protect your hands.
- Light Brown Briwax
- Soft cloth, microfiber pad or foam applicator pad for Briwax application
- Wax application brush if your piece has a lot of deep carving or crevasses.
- Soft cloth for buffing Briwax
The raw, completely unfinished pine.
You can see the pine turn yellow as the aging solution is applied to the piece.
- Prepare the pine piece for sanding and sand to 180 Grit.
- While the piece is in the raw, completely unfinished state, add any distressing that you feel would enhance your finished piece.
- Prepare the "aging solution". Mix one part sodium hydroxide (Household Drain Opener, Ace Hardware Professional Strength, Liquid Plumber or any brand of liquid drain cleaner) to one part water. We find that a glass measuring cup works well - adding the drain cleaner first and then the water. If you have very big pieces like an entertainment center, put the solution in a bug sprayer and spray it on. A brush will “flip” the solution everywhere, so use an old rag and wipe it on the surface. Also, you should use rubber gloves to keep the drain cleaner away from your skin.
- As the "aging" solution is applied, you will notice that the pine will turn yellow immediately. This is a reaction between the sodium hydroxide, oxygen and the tannic acid in the pine. You can tell if you have missed a spot if it does not turn yellow.
The aging solution dries to a dull gray-green color.
Apply the Light Brown Briwax. Notice the warm, honey color.
- After allowing the pine piece to dry it will take on a dull gray-green cast or will look like nothing has happened at all. This color, after drying, depends on the tannic acid in the lumber which results from the geographical area of where the tree was grown.
- Even though the piece may appear to be dry to the touch, let it set overnight.
- Apply Light Brown Briwax in a liberal manner all over the area you want to finish. This first application of Briwax will give the perfect color, sort of a "honey or caramel color". Wait a few minutes and buff the wax out with a cloth or natural bristle brush. The piece will not produce much of a sheen on the first application, you are only filling the pores of the wood. Immediately apply Light Brown Briwax again, it won't take very much, and wipe it as far as you can... less is better. Wait a minute and buff out the piece. Now you will see the hand-waxed look begin to develop.
- Pine will generally take three to four applications of Briwax to obtain a lovely steen. Remember to buff in-between each application of wax.
These carved books were also finished using the aging technique described above.
Raw, unfinished pine ready for the aging
After the application of aging solution. Due to deep carving, we used a spray bottle for applying the aging solution.
Liberal application of Light Brown Briwax with a soft cloth.
The warm honey color shows immediately.
The beautiful finished product.