Create A Faux Raw Wood Furniture Finish That Looks Authentic 

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Hi everyone! Have any of you noticed all of the Raw Wood Furniture everywhere lately? Did you know that it’s possible to create a Faux Raw Wood Furniture Finish?? Neither did I until I recently commissioned a beautiful pedestal writing desk for a client that did NOT go as planned.

It is a pretty standard desk from the 1980s. I’m sure 90% of you have seen/owned something similar before. 

Faux Raw Wood Finish Pedestal Desk Before

The owner of the piece wasn’t too particular on color or finish, as long as it was no darker than the original. Perf! I’d been dying to try Dixie Belle Paint’s “Au Naturel” Gel Stain on a piece for the ever so popular “Raw Wood Furniture Finish”. Here was my chance!

I stripped and sanded a single drawer front and stained it “Au Naturel” for the client to approve in person to avoid any issues later. 

Faux Raw Wood Furniture Drawer Front

Now “Au Naturel” is a stellar gel stain. But like other stains, it appears differently depending on what type of wood you use it on.  

Once I stripped the desk down, I saw that multiple types of wood were used in its construction.

The raised area of the top and drawers was a darker Mahogany veneer, as were the 3 sides of each pedestal. These were framed in Poplar and Pinewoods which are much lighter.

I also discovered some pretty deep scratches on the pedestal sides and some sanded-through areas. 

Despite this, I went to work sanding and staining everything as is, –filling what I could–hoping it would all blend well. It didn’t.

I fought with this desk for a few weeks trying to get it to work using acrylic washes, oil-based stains, wood fillers, you name it. Then I finally called it.

Considering the natural wood grain on this piece was almost non-existent anyway, painting it seemed like the next move. Maybe I could paint it to look like an Authentic Raw Wood? 

It took me a while to get to this point because this meant priming the entire desk and there’s no coming back from that. I really wanted to get some of the natural wood grain to show through, it just wasn’t happening.

‘So,’ I thought, ‘if I’m going to do this, it has to look authentic.’ Wood-graining tools are wonderful. But if you add too much grain, or grain where it shouldn’t be, it just doesn’t look like real wood.

That meant it was time for some testing out paint colors and serious practice with my wood-graining tools.

If you’ve never heard of them, the link to the exact tools I use is below.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

As with any other paint technique, the key to getting a faux raw wood furniture finish that looks authentic is practice. You can’t ever practice too much! 

Find some scrap wood, cardboard, anything, and just go to town practicing the motions necessary to create the right look. 

I had 4 leftover panels from a drop-leaf coffee table that were the perfect length for this. You want something with a little bit of distance to learn the up-down-up-down motion I’ll explain to you next.

I wasn’t positive about the color combo at this point either. So I took the opportunity to try several different shades for the base coat as well as the darker glaze coat.

Faux Raw Wood Furniture Finish Colors

Time Needed : 02 days

Before I go on, let me give you a short step-by-step explanation of the process for Creating a Faux Raw Wood Furniture Finish with paint.

  1. Step 1

    Prep Your Piece.

  2. Step 2

    Prime Your Piece.

  3. Step 3

    Apply Lighter Base Coat and Allow to Dry

  4. Step 4

    Mix Darker Paint Color with Glazing Medium.

  5. Step 5

    Apply Dark Glaze Evenly Over Entire Surface

  6. Step 6

    Immediately Use the Wood-Graining Tool to Remove Some of the Glaze. (explained in depth below.)

  7. Step 7

    Once You've Achieved the Look You Like, Let the Glaze Dry for at least 24 hours.

  8. Step 8

    Seal Your Piece.

  • Paint Brush
  • Wood Graining Tools
  • Light Colored Paint
  • Dark Colored Paint
  • Glazing Medium
  • Sealer

Need help with the prep? Check out my posts on Stripping Furniture and Sanding Furniture and grab a free Sandpaper Grit Reference Guide while at it!

Mastering the Wood Graining Tool

The short video below shows some of my practice with the tool. This was literally the first time I tried using the tool so obviously the finished product isn’t perfect. But I thought it would help show you what to do, and what NOT to do!

As I said above, you want to paint your glaze over the entire dry, painted surface. You want it kind of thick to start. 

Then holding your wood graining tool in your dominant hand, start at the top with the bottom (or top) edge of the tool on the surface. Slowly drag the tool down in a straight line while rocking the tool back and forth at the same time. 

This definitely took some getting used to for me. I like to start on the top edge of the tool and roll it downward while also moving the entire thing down, but you can do the exact opposite as well.


Yes, it’s kind of a pain in the butt, but if you don’t wipe it off, the tool won’t work as well for obvious reasons.

Luckily, glaze is super forgiving so if you don’t get it the first time, flatten it all out with your paintbrush and try again! 

My wood graining tool kit came with a triangular-shaped piece with different zig-zag designs on each edge. I found that this worked great to run over the surface lightly at the very end to give it even more authenticity. 

The Best Color Combo to Use For a Faux Raw Wood Furniture Finish

Now remember, this is for a Faux RAW wood finish. If you’ve read my post The Ultimate Guide To Identifying Wood Types In Furniture you know that there are infinite wood types/colors possible if you’re going for just a faux wood grain finish. 

But if you’re going for raw wood grain, your best bet is to choose a light beige or tan color for the base and a medium brown color for the grain. 

Here are the paints I ultimately ended up using after trying a BUNCH of different colors.

For the light tone, I ended up going with Folkart’s Linen Acrylic Paint mixed with a tiny bit of their Barn Wood Acrylic Paint.

And for the dark tone, I used Country Chic Paint’s Driftwood.

Keep in mind that for the darker wood grain, you’ll be mixing your darker paint color with a glaze, which lightens the color slightly. Here’s the glaze I used:

A Few Tips to Remember When Going For a Faux Raw Wood Furniture Finish

  • Using the wider attachment for larger surfaces like tabletops makes it look more authentic. 
  • Rocking the tool VERY slowly will also help. If you overdo the grain or the grain is too small, it will definitely not look real.
  • Don’t forget to clean off your tool after EVERY stroke! I find using a little plastic scrub brush helps to get the glaze out of every nook and cranny quickly and easily.
  • If the darker grain stands out too much, try doing a wash using your base color & water, 1:1, once the glaze has dried.
  • Layering a few different colored grains sometimes helps as well.

And I think that’s it! 

Here is my finished faux raw wood desk:

What do you think? Have you tried a faux raw wood finish on a piece before? How did you do it? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Faux Raw Wood Furniture Finish Pin

Until Next Time,


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