Nothing is worse than new wood on building projects where you want an aged patina to blend into the scenery. The silver color of weathered wood isn't hard to achieve, although this isn't a finish to use on the next generation's heirloom models as it is too acidic. The acidity isn't a problem for the wood items, but it will affect other items in contact with the wood, or enclosed in the same space (a model building?) so take care to seal the finish if you are using it around heritage pieces in a container.
Creating a Simple Wood Aging Solution
To age new wood to a natural silvery grey, to grey brown or black patina (depending on the wood), let a small piece of steel wool sit overnight in ordinary white vinegar, then dilute the vinegar solution 1 to 1 with water. (If you used 1/4 cup of vinegar, add 1/4 cup of water.) Test the result on a piece of scrap wood to determine if the aged finish is the correct color, if not, for darker solutions, leave the solution to sit longer, or add a bit more vinegar, and test it again. Solutions which are too strong produce very dark coloration. They will need more water added to dilute them before you test again. When the solution produces the desired effect, brush it over fresh wood to create an instant greyed patina. This is a great way to create barnboards, use with wire brushed balsa to create a thatched effect, or to create weathered shingles or fence posts.
- This finish varies with the type of raw wood it is applied to, the roughness of the wood, (rough wood absorbs the solution more readily) and the strength of the solution. Balsa and basswood will turn grey or dark brown (depending on the solution strength). Oak will blacken.
- The high acid level of the finish means this is not a recommended finish for high quality miniatures, but the acid effect can be sealed beneath a coat of matte acrylic varnish which will help keep it from requiring buffering.
- Depending on your application you could also try buffering sprays to neutralize the pH of the vinegar wood stain if you do not want to seal the finish.
- The finish will not penetrate glue, so ensure that pieces to be aged have been carefuly wiped after gluing to keep glue from the surface, or age sections of your project before you glue them. If areas will not stain, use washes of acrylic paints (Paynes grey and burnt umber are most useful) to age the area with acrylic paint instead of the vinegar/steel wool solution.
This is just one of the many ways to create custom wood finishes in full scale or miniature listed on the About.com miniatures site. Other wood finishes include:
All these finishes can be applied to full size or miniature projects and use water based paints. They are not difficult for a beginner to create.