Having Fun With False Graining


When I mentioned to Alex here in my office that I showed the attendees at the SNAP! bloggers conference how to do “false graining,” she gave me the same look the day I asked her to get me a sheet of carbon paper, asking “What’s that?”  In case you’ve never seen this old technique, I’ll show you what I demonstrated for Alex.

False graining is intended to make bland wood look exotic. To create the wood grain, you need an inexpensive plastic graining tool such as the one pictured above, available at most home centers and craft stores.

To start, you will need a base coat of either paint, stain or the natural wood sealed with a clear finish. I chose the latter and used Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane, on this ordinary plywood box.

After the base coat is dry, brush on a thin coat of Minwax® Gel Stain.

Then, before the Gel Stain dries, and starting at one end, pull the special graining tool the length of the board.

As you rock the graining tool back and forth, all the while pulling it toward the far end of the board, the raised rubber design of the tool will create different wood grain patterns in the Gel Stain.

Quick Tip: Don’t stop mid-board, as this will leave a line of excess stain where you paused.

Don’t like your first attempt? No problem! Just brush out the Gel Stain and make a fresh pass. Be sure to experiment with different angles and rocking motions to create different grain patterns.

When you are satisfied, let the Gel Stain begin to dry. Just before it is completely dry, however, use only the tips of a soft, natural bristle brush to “feather out” and soften the grain lines, making them look more natural.

Once the Gel Stain has dried, apply two coats of Fast-Drying Polyurethane to seal and protect the stain and the wood. Now I just have to see if I can convince Alex to finish the rest of the box….

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!


6 comments on “Having Fun With False Graining

    1. Bruce Johnson Post author

      For your first attempt at false graining, Mike, I would practice on some flat straight boards first. A railing, depending on how curved or ornate it is, could be very challenging even for a professional. Also, I want to make sure that this would be an indoor railing not an exterior railing because I’m afraid the stain we used in this post would soon flake off under the heat of direct sun. Good luck!

Comments are closed.