Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To

How to create a faux reclaimed wood look on a solid painted wood table top using just a circular saw and paint.

I’m a fake person. Not fake personality-wise (I like to keep it real in that department) but when it comes to a lot of the elements in our home, I love getting tricky. Cue this song.
If you don’t believe me, just take a gander at our faux fireplace, distressed “wood” frames, and knock-off chandelier. See? Fake all the way. Slapping the French word “faux” on it makes it sound so much nicer though, right? Just like Tar-jay is so much fancier than Target. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To

I was all gung-ho to reveal lots of projects today, but wouldn’t you know, all three of the huge things I’d been working on during my week off hit a road block. It happens. And when it comes to DIY, sometimes you just have to shrug it off and opt for Plan B or C or the other 23 letters of the alphabet.
I promise, you’ll be seeing them soon. But for today, I’ll just give you a teaser with our coffee table top I’ve been working on.
I found this super functional trunk table on Craigslist a few months ago for $50, and it seriously has the best storage ever! Drawers for DVDs + a liftable top for toys = a winner in my book. (Ahem. That garage chaos behind it doesn’t exist…we’ll pretend.)

But, it was looking very vanilla along with the beige sofas and beige carpet in our living room. I lurv me some neutrals, but even THAT neutral I can’t deal with. She needed some personality. And I wanted a reclaimed planked wood top, but nailing wood planks on top would have made the toy storage capability completely useless.

And I couldn’t strip the trunk down to bare wood because it is made of veneered MDF.

Thanks to my good ol’ buddy Pinterest, I stumbled upon two wonderful tutorials that set me on the path the achieve the look I wanted without having to buy a single piece of wood.

Here are the two I used:

DIY Faux Planked Desk by Maison de Pax

Make a gorgeous, painted, planked look desktop from plywood! via maisondepax.com #diy #plank
Faux Weathered Gray Wood Grain Tutorial | Pretty Handy Girl
It’s times like tackling my own furniture that I’m so thankful to be living in the DIY-craze era. I would not have figured out this project had it not been for these two talented bloggers. (Be sure to visit both links for their supply lists.)
Both are great tutorials and gave me a good starting point to adapt and tweak for my own needs. I would definitely suggest checking out their step-by-steps too, but here is how I did it.
I measured the width of the top and decided on how many planks I wanted to create. The hinge, thankfully, was exactly at the 1/3 of the table. It was 30 inches wide, so I marked my faux planks at every 5 inches.


Then chalk lined where I wanted to make my cuts.


Using a circular saw set at 1/8 of an inch deep, my super sweet hubby cut the lines on the top and sides. (One of these days I’m hoping he’ll trust me with power tools, but for now since he still takes on my odd carpentry jobs without complaints, I’ll take it.)

Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To

To give the cut lines more definition and to make them look more aged, I worked Annie Sloan Dark Wax into the grooves and wiped away the excess.

Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To
Then, for the wood grain finish, this is where things got tricky. (Don’t make me play the song again. I’ll do it.) ย You can check out the materials used here.


Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To

To provide a nice base for the grain, I painted on a base coat. After the base was dry, I used a mixture of glaze and a slightly darker paint to brush a light coat on top, leaving some of the base coat showing.

Here’s where the fun begins! After the medium glaze is dry, brush on the glaze/darker paint mixture. I did one plank at a time.


And use a wood graining tool to drag and rock through the paint glaze to create a grain effect.


Use a smaller wood graining tool for the sides too.


Once the darker paint glaze is dry, brush on a light glaze randomly on top of the grain.

Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To
Here’s where I changed it up a bit. Instead of using Minwax Finishing Cloths as suggested on Pretty Handy Girl, I chose to use General Finishes Gel Stain in Antique Walnut (affiliate) for a deeper wood tone.

The gel stain has almost a pudding-like texture, so it’s really easy to work with and doesn’t drip easily. I just swiped it on one plank at a time, wiped it up with a rag, and that was it.

Can you tell the difference? It’s subtle but richer.

Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To

Make sure to stain the sides too. (See that sneaky peek of the trunk color? I’m super excited about it, but you’ll see that later.)

There ya go. A faux reclaimed wood table top. There were a lot of steps, I’ll admit, but the end result was well worth it.

Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To
I’m so ready to put this baby back in our living room all beautified. The toys that were in it are thrown all over our floor, and I can hardly think straight with the chaos. On the bright side, our toddler is having a ball now that our entire house seems to have become her playroom with nowhere to stash her craziness.


Faux Reclaimed Wood Table Top How-To
Be sure to check back in tomorrow! I can’t wait to get our house back in order so that I can share the fun I’ve been up to.
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  1. Exactly what I was looking for! My coffee table has suffered a few too many knives attacks and is ready for a little bit of refurbishing. It’s a plain table top but I wanted a “planks” look. I just need to find one of these circular saws!No way I’m letting the fun of using it to the hubby though ^^.

  2. Love this look! Do you think I could do this same technique on ceiling beams? We have real wood beams that were painted white by the previous owner and I think sanding them would be wayyy too much trouble but I want them to look like wood again! Would I be crazy to try this on 14 beams? ๐Ÿ™ˆ

    1. Hi, Gina! Instead of trying it on all 14 beams, I suggest testing a small hidden spot to see if it is going to work and test the actual process. If you love the color and outcome of the tested spot then complete the entire project. Let me know how it all turns out.

    1. Hi, Alma! Great question. When cutting wood, any saw will work. The circular saw is just a little faster and can cut through multiple types of material. You should be able to use the type of saw you are already familiar with in woodworking.

  3. Great job! Question regarding coverage of materials. Looking to do something similar on our dining room table top. How much paint do you think I’ll need? Will the sample jars be enough? The table is 42″ wide by 8′ (42″x60″ with 2, 18″ leaves).


    1. Thanks for your inspiring tutorial to get me started, Brittany! And sorry about the delayed pingback. This is my new site that just got setup today, so it’s all wacky at the moment. ๐Ÿ™‚ Appreciate you taking the time to leave me some love!

  4. Wow! I never would have guessed that this wasn’t real reclaimed wood. It goes so perfectly with the color of the coffee table. You do a phenomenal job transforming furniture.

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