Clock Restoration

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This is an abbreviated presentation of a topic covered in Extreme Restoration. The explanation in the book will be longer and in greater detail, but this overview provides the essentials.

Aging Wood: New wood looks a lot different than old wood. Old, unfinished wood often has a dark, dull gray color resulting from oxidation over time. When stained and/or finished, new wood will continue to look noticeably different than old. In order to cleanly integrate new parts into an old case, the new wood needs to be aged.......

Aging of wood cannot be achieved with stains or finishes. What is needed is a means to actually oxidize the wood fibers, but in a much short time than occurs naturally.

There are products on the market for aging wood and they all work to one degree or another. As an alternative to commercial products, I have found that some common household products can be used to very effectively oxidize and age wood.

The needed solutions are simple to make an use. The results are very impressive..............

Occasionally, it is necessary to create a new case part to replace a damaged or missing original. Creating the piece is usually not difficult, but making the piece fit in with the rest of the case takes some extra effort.

New wood simply doesn't look like old, oxidized wood. No matter what type of finish or stain is used, it still just looks new.........

The back side of molding pieces needs to look old even though it is unfinished. New veneer, when used along with original veneer needs to be aged to better fit in with the old original veneer.

My wife always get a terrified look on her face when she catches me in the kitchen, going though cabinets with a determined look on my face.

Unfortunately for her, it is in the kitchen that some of the best clock finishing products are to be found.

Here, I've gathered a tea bag and common household white vinegar.
The #0000 steel wool pad actually came from the shop.

To begin, tear up some bits of #0000 steel wool and place them loosely in a small, sealable jar or bottle.


Add enough household vinegar to fully cover the steel wool.


Attach the top of the jar and set aside for 24 hours or longer.

The vinegar and steel wool will interact to create an iron based solution.

Don't expect the steel wool to fully dissolve. It will to some degree, but due to impurities, it will never fully dissolve.

Next day, boil some water then add about 1/3 cup of water to a small jar.

Add the tea bag and allow to steep and make a really strong tea blend.

Tetley and Lipton both work just as well at English tea.........It's all a matter of what's in the pantry at the time.

Once the tea is steeped, brush it onto the piece to be aged.  It isn't necessary that the tea remain warm.

Here two pieces of Pine are used.  One is the very white shade of
soft Pine while the other is more the pinkish shade seen in Fir.

Allow the tea to dry on the wood.

The tea contains tannic acid that is transferred to the wood.

Once the tea has dried, brush the area with the vinegar/steel wool mix.

You will see darkening of the wood begin almost immediately depending on the ambient temperature.

Once the vinegar is applied, allow the pieces to sit for 10 to 30 minutes.

In warm weather, 30 minutes will result in the wood turning very dark gray.

Here, both the light colored and darker Pine samples took on a lot of darkness.

It is sometimes necessary to lightly sand the oxidized area to bring the shading up a bit.

Close examination of the aged wood will show that the "shine" seen in new wood is gone. If the wood were to be stained, it would look very much like old wood now.

Note: This technique works well for aging new veneer when used in combination with existing old veneer. It is a good way to match the two.


Aging is a great way to make your replacement parts fit into the overall restoration. 

Taking the extra time to age the wood is another way to set your restoration work a step above............