Make your own barn board Shelf

March 25, 2014

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This is a fun one today, sort of a project within a project. First — I wanted barn board. Only one problem — I had no barn board. But that’s no reason to change plans right? I decided to make my own… somehow.

Want to make your own barn board? I hear it’s actually pretty easy…


Grab some white vinegar, put it in a bucket, add steel wool to that bucket and let it sit a while. For me a while meant about an hour, because I’m impatient like that. But — I’ve heard you should let it sit overnight.


The steel wool reacts with the vinegar and creates a stain of sorts to apply an aged patina to your wood. I was using Pine, 1 x 6’s, fresh from the hardware store. Nothing rare or exotic there.

My one mistake? I used a bowl I had no plans on throwing away after. Mmmm, I wrecked my bowl. I threw it away. Boo. So, I recommend finding an old plastic bucket instead. Whoops.

Grab some rubber gloves, and use the steel wool directly against the wood to apply the “stain”. I used the steel wool for at least the first coat, then moved onto a paintbrush.


Here is my naked Pine ready to go…


And, here is my steel wool / vinegar concoction…


Now here is where opinions seem to differ. To tea or not to tea. I’ve heard if you make strong tea, and apply it to the bare boards as a first step — the tannins in the wood react with the tea, improving the “aged effect”.

I decided to do it, (applied it with a paintbrush) however, I’m not convinced it made a difference. But I think it may depend which kind of wood you are using.

Here it is, about 15 minutes after my first vinegar/steel wool application:


And a few hours later and 4 coats later, I had this:


Looking pretty good, but if you plan to stop here, don’t apply any spot applications, you can see that it leaves a noticeable difference in those areas. Luckily I had a few more steps in my future, so it was A-OK.

On to the next step. I wanted my barn board to look like I had actually ripped it off a broken down farmhouse. One that had possibly seen a few different paint applications.

So I took some white latex paint and added a few swipes to the boards.


Then, I took a fun turquoise latex paint colour and added a few more swipes. Then I was forced to be patient. It was important everything was nice and dry. I left it overnight.


The next step was the fun part. I grabbed my hand sander and gave the boards a good workout, giving them a nice worn out look. And they looked perfect. I couldn’t be more happy with them, and even though the process takes some time, each step is so easy. This is truly something anyone can do. No experience necessary!


Cool right? Ok, so now I have my super fun boards. It was time for part two of my project within a project… my front door shelf / landing strip.

Two boards, about 3 feet long, were the perfect size for corralling all the keys, and mail, and other junk that manages to make it through the door with us each day.


I connected the two boards together on the underside with a smaller piece of particle board, and screwed it in from the bottom — so everything stays tidy and hidden.

One small shelf bracket for support, and a few tiny “L” brackets, anchored, and attached to both walls, holds the shelf in place. Everything is lightweight and the perfect scale for the front foyer.


The turquoise paint ties in perfectly to the fabric I’m using on the bench on the other side of the room (I’ll show you soon I promise!).


Simple. Easy. Clean. Functional. Annnnd, it never looks this tidy! … but we try.


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