By Michael Connolly, WIR Contributor
Craft fairs are filled with one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Usually the colors are vibrant, the shapes playful, and the lines sharp. However, a new texture and a new color palette have taken center stage.
Old wood, antique wood and whitewashed colors have become so popular that prices for table and chair sets command hundreds of dollars more than they did a few years ago.
Luckily, Wood. It’s Real. has a friend named Mike Flaim who can help you save money and get the custom piece of furniture you want.
Mike Flaim is the owner of MVFlaim Furniture in Ohio. He and his wife build and refinish furniture then sell it at craft fairs. Mike has very generously shared his personal technique to turn freshly sawn Southern Yellow Pine into an antique-looking piece.
The first step, he explained, is to soak steel wool in apple cider vinegar. Then, apply the mixture to the wood and wipe off the excess.
“After 24 hours, you should notice the color of the wood change.” The wood will look “muddy”, because the tannins of the vinegar penetrated the fibers of the wood.
The next step is to stain the wood with the Early American stain from Minwax. After 10 to 15 minutes, wipe off the excess stain and apply either a Walnut or Ebony stain for five minutes and wipe off the excess.
It has taken lots of experimentation to recreate the weathered look, said Mike. “But that’s what I have come up with.”
Dents, dings and small imperfections on the edges of the wood add character and create a feeling that the furniture has a story and a history.
When asked about the use of Southern Yellow Pine for furniture, Mike replied. “I love Southern Yellow Pine. I think it is the most underappreciated wood. People hear the name and all they think of is construction, but it is extremely useful.”
Though most furniture makers advertise their use of cherry, walnut and mahogany, pine is less expensive, said Mike. It is easy to use, it can be painted, stained or decorated and no one will know the difference. “Even though it’s a softwood, it’s still really, really strong.”
When Mike is not working a furniture project he is most likely restoring antique planes – his favorite type of tool. “Planes are like golf clubs”, he said with a grin. “No two are the same and they all serve different purposes.”
Planes shave bumps and burrs off of wood to create a level and flat surface. “They kind of act like sandpaper on steroids. It is much quicker to get an even surface with a plane.”
Mike collects and restores the planes he buys from auctions and estate sales. One day he was restoring a plane when he found a note dated Sept. 10, 1938. Visit Mike’s blog to read more.
(Images via MVFlaim Furniture)