Limed wood furniture

Several methods of decorating wood exploit its natural grain pattern. Limed wood imitates the old custom of painting wooden furniture with diluted limewash left over from painting the walls in farmhouses. Now, instead of using limewash, liming wax (a mixture of beewax and whiting) is worked into the wood and the surface is polished, leaving the residue of white wax in the grain. 

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Liming can revitalize heavy, dark old furniture, making it look fresh and contemporary; the same process can also be applied to light-coloured wood for a different contrast, using wax mixed with coloured pigments, emphasizing the grain with black or perhaps a deep earthy red.

On the picture below, a limed wood finish gives these modern kitchen a comfortable, time-worn look, emphasizing their soft colour and pretty grain.

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The process

Liming is straightforward process, but for the best results good preparation is important. If liming is to be applied to old furniture, all traces of heavy sealed or polished finishes must be completely removed, and even with new wood, the surface should be sanded until smooth and clean.

Liming wax is a smooth paste wax that gives a white grained finish or white washed effect that can be applied to bare or stained wooden surfaces.

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  1. Work wire brush in direction of grain, removing soft wood and emphasizing grain.
  2. Apply liming wax generously with fine steel wool, along and across grain.
  3. Leave for 30 minutes. Remove liming wax with steel wool and wax polish.
  4. Polish cleared surface with soft cotton cloth; polish occasionally with clear wax.

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