For this DIY rustic wood riser, I’ll show you how to take new smooth wood and turn it into something that has the texture and look of old barnwood. No one will ever know you started with new wood when you’re done! There are many options for feet out there, but for this tutorial, I used scraps of 1×2 because that’s what I had on hand. It’s also the same method I’ve used for feet on some of my tray tutorials.
Supplies for the rustic wood riser
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- 2×8 or 2×10 board (I cut mine 10″ long)
- 14″ long 1×2 for the feet
- Mitre saw
- Wood glue
- 18 gauge brad nailer and 1 1/2″ brad nails
- Drill & wire cup brush (for adding texture to the wood)
- Clamp to hold the wood when using the drill and wire cup brush
- Hammer for adding texture to the wood
- Orbital sander & 150 grit sandpaper as well as 220-grit to handsand
- Foam brush to apply the black water wash
- Brush to apply the top coat finish
- Varathane Diamond coat water-based, satin finish (or any polyacrylic, water-based finish)
1. Cut the wood to size for the rustic wood riser
You need to first decide on the length of your rustic wood riser. The one I did for this tutorial is 10″ long, but you could really do any length, depending on where it will get used.
2. Distress the heck out of the wood
This part is a complete stress buster! Below is what I used, but you can try pretty much anything. Keep in mind, however, that whatever you do, keep it organic looking.
- Take a hammer (the claw as well as the front) to ding and gouge the edges. (Fig. 4) It looks pretty rough, but once all the distressing is done, it gets sanded to smooth out all the edges, which gives it a time-worn look.
- An upside-down jigsaw gives the ends some wear. (Fig 1)
- Add some interest by lightly tapping a small nail in the wood in clusters of holes in order to mimic insect holes. (Fig. 2) To add to this look, once in a while, push the nail over slightly when it’s in the wood.
The wood will probably look pretty rough, but don’t worry. The next two steps will bring it all together.
- The last thing I used was a wire brush attached to a drill. (Fig. 3) This method removes the soft pulp of the wood between the ridges giving it that 100-year-old barnwood texture. I recommend that you clamp the wood down before you begin and hold tight to the drill because it’s going to want to jump around. And don’t forget to do the sides and the ends.
- Once you’re done distressing the wood, sand using a 150-grit sandpaper in the orbital sander. This will soften the knicks and dings, giving the rustic wood riser a time-worn look.
3. Adding the feet to the rustic wood riser
There are many different options for feet, such as beads, wooden knobs, candle sticks, and spindles. I just happened to have scrap 1×2, so I opted to use that.
- Begin by setting the mitre saw to a 30-degree angle. (Fig. 8)
- Lay the 1×2 tall side up. (Fig. 8)
- If you have a guide on the mitre saw, set it to 3 inches. Otherwise, mark the wood at 3 inches and cut.
- When done, you’ll have one end cut on a 30-degree angle and the opposite end on a 90-degree angle (straight cut).
- Sand the sharp edges off of the feet. (Fig. 5)
- I chose to have my feet pop out about 1/8″ from the wood, but you could keep it even with the board or tuck it underneath a bit.
- Apply a thin but even amount of glue before attaching the foot to the board with the nail gun. (Fig. 6) Too much glue will cause the feet to slide around.
- Lastly, attach the feet using 1 1/4″ or 1 1/2″ brad nails. (Fig. 7)
- Once the glue has dried on the feet, you could (if you wanted) add a few dings to the feet as well.
Do this if your rustic wood riser has a wobble (won’t sit flat)
Tip: if you find your rustic wood riser doesn’t sit flat (has a wobble), do this when the glue is still wet; slide a small flat screwdriver between the foot and the block of wood on the foot that isn’t sitting flat. Gently pull the screwdriver up to create just enough space until the wood riser sits flat. If you need to, use wood filler to fill the gap.
4. Staining the rustic wood riser
Although I’ll show you how I give the rustic wood riser a barnwood look, there are many other ways to finish it, so do what speaks to you. Check out this tutorial if you’d like a crackled, worn paint finish.
- Mix 2 tsp of any type of black paint with 1 cup of water into an old container making sure to mix it well.
- This next step can get messy, so protect your workspace. I use an old cookie sheet with a towel to catch any drips.
- I prefer using a foam brush to apply the black water because it holds the liquid better and is less messy.
- For this project, I did two coats of black water wash for this riser, lightly sanding after the first coat dries and then again after the second coat is dry.
5. Applying a protective finish
I typically choose from two types of finishes, but there are certainly more options out there! I’ll use a water-based polyacrylic finish if it’s going to get a lot of use because it lasts longer. But for normal wear and tear, I love using beeswax. Since this will get actively used, I’m opting for polyacrylic.
- I brushed on an even (not thick) top coat. Make sure to get the sides and ends, checking for drips once you’re done.
- When it’s dry, take 220 grit sandpaper and lightly scuff sand it in the direction of the wood grain. Tip: Sandpaper that’s already been used works best for this step.
- Before adding the second coat, wipe off the dust residue.
- Apply the second coat and let dry.
- If you want to give the finish a more worn look, take the 150-grit sandpaper and lightly run it along the wood grain. It will scratch it, but this is what you want to age the finish. You can omit this step if you prefer.
- This next step is also optional, but I like to do it because it makes the wood smooth to the touch. It’s pretty simple; take some paper (any kind), crumple it, and then “polish” the wood with it. Just keep going over the surface until it is smooth to the touch.
The only thing left to do is to decide how you’ll use your rustic wood riser.
If you’re like me, it’s on to the next project, because there is always a next project!
Thanks for stopping by!