Make New Wood Look Old With Vinegar & Steel Wool

Vinegar and Steel Wool do not sound like a likely combination, but you put the two together something magical happens. When mom and I had a little home decor/furniture makeover shop we used this trick on a lot of our pieces. If you have an older piece of furniture that needs some woodwork done it is hard to make the new wood look old, but now that you will know this trick it is no problem at all. Or you can take something new and make it look old.

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All you need is a glass jar (like a mason jar) vinegar and some steel wool. We put a decent sized piece of steel wool in the jar and then covered most of it with vinegar. There is no exact measurements. Then let the jar sit for at least 48 hours, you will see when the transformation takes place. We left ours sit for about a week, just because that’s when we got around to our projects. This is what the steel wool and vinegar looks like right away vs a week later.

Vinegar Steel Wool Stain Make New Wood Look Old

For this project we were going to make a photography prop for my mom. She purchased these craft crates at Menards, if you are local to the Wisconsin/Minnesota area. You can purchase them at most craft stores or online on Amazon too, Click!) As you can see they are a very light colored wood and we needed something that looked aged.


To apply the Steel Wool & Vinegar stain to your wood we used cheap foam brushes because we knew that they would be thrown away afterwards. When you apply the stain right away it won’t look like much, but after a few minutes it will develop to its full color.

Steel Wool and Vinegar Stain Time Laspe tamcam10

Since we had this Steel Wool & Vinegar stain made I took the opportunity to touch up the wood on my Vintage Theater Chairs. There were a few pieces that lighter than the others on them.  I don’t think it was new wood, but possibly they had a cover of sorts over them that protected them from aging over the years. We applied two coats and the they look good as new (well old).

You can just leave your wood as is with the Vinegar and Steel Wool stain, it will give your wood a lovely aged look. For our photography prop we went one step further and white washed the wood with some Milk Paint. We used General Finishes Snow White Milk Paint and mixed 50/50 with water. Then with a Chip Brush we lightly applied the paint in long, sweeping motions so that the white did not cover all of the aged looking wood. This effect gave the crates the look like an old white fence. We added some fluffy white material, a kisses sign and puppies, this is what we created:Make New Wood Look Old Puppy Kisses Balsam Branch Kennel tamcam10

Do you have something new that you want to look old? Give this Steel Wool and Vinegar trick a try, the possibilities are endless.

Love Always … Tam

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Make New Wood Look Old with Steel Wool and Vinegar tamcam10

Before and After Aging Wood with Vinegar and Steel Wool tamcam10




  1. I am currently working on a rocking chair and am curious as to what can neutralize the colors coloring process between 4 and 6 minutes, I prefer that finish


    • Hi Susan- I have never tried to stop the process before, but it looks like baking soda is a neutralizer for Vinegar. On a test piece of wood I would try spraying on a water/baking soda mixture and see if that works. Let me know how your project goes!


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