False Graining Techniques
Published by Fox Chapel Publishing Co. Inc., East Petersburg PA USA
As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 175
It's always gratifying to encounter a book that captures an almost-lost technique and re-invigorates it for the current generation.
When false graining was first introduced (probably some 250 to 300 years ago), it appears to have been used principally to make cheap wood look like fine pieces of a superior species. We can only guess why the practice came to be abandoned. Was it the greater availability of high quality cabinet timbers? Or a rise in labour rates that made it uneconomic to spend the time necessary for this kind of work? Whatever the reason, false graining has largely become the preserve of the conservator - a technique used to make new material match the original parts of a cabinet, table or chair.
Hopefully, this slim book will re-vitalise study and exploration of the techniques and encourage its readers to consider false graining for the decoration of their projects.
It must be said at the outset that the information presented in False Graining Techniques is based on brands of materials (ie. paints and glazes) which are not readily available in this region. But this should not prove an impediment, since a little research will show that there are similar products among those made by local manufacturers such as Porterís Paints.
In it's simplest form, false graining is performed by first applying a base colour coat, then overlaying this with a translucent coat of a different colour which is then manipulated to form a pattern.
As the book shows, the manipulation can be carried out using 'tools' such as normal paint brushes, foam brushes, special graining combs, corncobs, fingers, hands or even pieces of torn cardboard.
The book begins with a brief investigation of the potential offered by several graining tools. These are illustrated with colour photographs of some of the patterns that can be achieved.
Most of the remainder of the book is devoted to projects which are not only attractive and worthwhile in their own right, but also invite the application of the same techniques to other work.
The projects include a Tissue Box, Mirror Frame, Serving Tray and Miniature Blanket Box. These are followed by two pages on Finishing - a short discussion about Shellacking and a longer description of Distressing, listing several novel methods that may be used to give wood an aged appearance.
The final few pages of the book contain an Idea Gallery - more than a dozen photos of interesting and inspiring examples of false graining applied to a wide range of projects.
The book should appeal to everyone interested in the art of decoration, regardless of the nature of the items to which it is applied.
Photos & Illustrations: Colour