Introduction

a pickled oak bench
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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Pickling, bleaching, whitewash—they're all variations on the theme of treating light-colored woods, usually pine, oak, or ash, to make them appear even lighter, almost ethereal. This "limed" look stems from the 16th-century European practice of infusing wood with a paste of caustic lime to ward off insect infestation. Even then, it was appreciated for its decorative value.
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    Tools List

    • Sanding Sponge
      medium-grit and fine-grit sanding sponges to open the wood's pores and sand between clear coats
    • utility vacuum
      vacuum with brush attachment and microfiber cloths to remove sanding dust
    • disposable cup
      two disposable cups and wide-mouth container to mix primer and water
    • 4-inch paintbrush
      4-inch nylon-polyester paintbrush to apply pickling solution
    • 2-and-a-half-inch paintbrush
      2½-inch nylon-polyester paintbrush to apply clear coat
    • paint cup and liners
      paint cup and liners
    • cleaning rag
      clean, dry rags

    Shopping List

    1. White latex primer-sealer to dilute with water to create a pickling paint (or use an off-the-shelf formula, such as Minwax's White Wash Pickling Stain)

    2. Water-based polyurethane to clear coat and protect the pickling. Satin will look the best.