Faking, A Refinishing Technique:
During the normal process of restoring a clock case, it is
occasionally necessary to replace a section of missing veneer with
either harvested or new veneer. When this is done, every effort
should be made to match
grain pattern of the "patch" to that of the existing veneer.
when the replacement veneer is a good match, there will
usually be a visible joint where the two veneers meet and it is
unlikely that the two veneers will be exactly the same shade. As a
result, the repair becomes quite obvious.
Faking is a term
to describe a technique used to carefully mask unwanted joint lines
and create a seemingly unbroken veneer panel. It is not a difficult
technique to master and required no special tools. Learning to
effectively “fake” unwanted joint lines can add a lot to the quality
of your veneer repairs and case refinishing.
The presentation that follows is taken from
the book Extreme Restoration. This technique has been used
successfully in a number of clock restoration projects. They have
also been posted as a “How-to” presentation on the NAWCC web site
As with other faux finishes, faking does not require a large
investment in tools or supplies but it is important to gather up the
needed materials and get organized before starting a project. The
following basic supplies are recommended:
Just about any type of paint can be used for faking. Oil based
enamel, artist enamels and artist acrylics all have been used
Hobby shops carry a very wide range of shades in enamels both oil
and water based.
Artist’s acrylics offer several advantages such as fast drying, easy
mixing. Being water based, clean-up is quick and easy.
Try several different types of paint until you find a favorite.
General purpose artist's
brushes work well. A selection of round and flat, soft and firm
should be on hand to try.
It is common to
have to produce some very fine lines so #0, #00, #000 and even #0000
brushes will come in handy
Fine, hard-tipped pens
in both black and brown are very useful in faking. They allow you to
apply very fine "grain" lines where two veneers meet.
There are no special tools needed.
Basic shop materials such as #400 and #600 sand paper and #0000
steel wool will be needed.
Shellac will be needed
to provide the final protective finish.
Practice pieces can be easily made simply by gluing two pieces next
to one another on a scrap piece of wood. This provides a good way to
The section of original veneer must be firmly attached to the case.
If necessary, apply hide glue and clamp the piece in place to ensure
that it is flat and well attached.
Any surface finish (shellac) on the original piece should be
removed. If a larger surface is being repaired, the finish need only
be removed from the area within about one inch of the joint line
between old and new veneer.
To blend replacement with original veneer is a two step process.
color and tone of the two veneers must be made to match.
Second: The line where the two veneers meet must be made as
inconspicuous as possible.
Penetrating stains can be found in a wide range of colors. Stain
colors fall into three general categories:
Reds (Mahogany, Red Oak)
Brown (Walnut, Cherry)
Yellow (Pine, Early American)
It is usually possible to locate penetrating stains that are a match
for most clock cases. Rarely is it necessary to custom mix stains.
Select a stain that appears to be a close match to the original
veneer and, using an artist brush, apply stain to the new veneer and allowed to soak in.
After the stain
has set for about 10~15 minutes, wipe any excess and a examine the
piece for match with the original veneer.
It may take several
applications of stain to reach a color match, or you might have to change to
a darker stain to get the necessary match.
Working with stains, a
close match can usually be achieved.
Remember to wipe excess
stain from the surface of the piece. The stain on the surface of the wood
has not penetrated and will smear when shellac is applied.
Allow the stain to
fully cure and dry.
After the new veneer has been
stained to closely match the old, it sometimes helps to give the entire
piece a light wipe with stain to further match tones.
Faking is the process of
camouflaging the joint line between two pieces of veneer using paints. As
noted, oil based enamel paints as well as water based artist's
acrylics both work well. It's really a matter of finding which you
To begin the process, it
is usually a good idea to place a small dab of several colors that
are related to the shade of the piece. Very often, burn umber, raw
umber, burnt sienna and yellow ocher and their variations cover the
full range of shades on the project piece.
Getting just the right shade
often requires custom mixing of colors, but is not a difficult skill to
The basic technique for faking
is to use an almost dry brush to cover the joint line.
Do not paint a
straight, flat line across the joint. Instead use a jabbing or "stipple"
technique to put bits of pigment not just on the joint but well to the left
and right as well.
As shown in this photo, the
normal tendency is to put down too much paint and basically wipe out all the
grain. That's pretty normal and not a problem.
Once the paint has fully cured,
you can use 220 or 400 wet or dry sandpaper to gently remove some of the
paint and achieve more of a translucent look.
The next thing that may need to
be done is to fake some of the dark splinter-like grain marks. If these are
drawn across the joint line it really starts to make the joint line
difficult to see.
Micron ink pens, available from
arts & crafts stores come in several colors and with varying tip sizes. They
work well to add just a few grain lines across the joint.
With a little practice, the fine fiber-like lines seen in real wood
can be "faked" very accurately. This technique, combined with color
matching and the paint techniques described above, really start to
pull the old and new veneers together
With just a little
practice you will be able to accurately "fake" away most unwanted
flaws and joint lines.
One trick to improving the
result is to work the well to the left and right of the joint. This
spreads out the faking affect and pulls the eyes away from the joint
The final top finish
will complete the faking.
I love using shellac
made up fresh from flakes. There are clear and blond shellacs, but the
original was orange and was likely the only shellac shade used when these
clocks were manufactured.
If the shade of the shellac on
other sections of the clock case must be matched, there are several brands
of universal tints of colorants that can be added to the shellac to
Mixol in only one brand
The first two coats of shellac
are usually brushed on to provide coverage and protection for the painted
Brush shellac onto the
unfinished part of the piece as well as onto and over the existing shellac
on the older part of the case.
I personally like hand rubbed
shellac. A "rubber" is made up of soft cotton cloth with gauze or cotton
First, alcohol is
applied to the rubber to moisten it. Excess is tapped away on a clean piece
Shellac is then applied
with a dropper.
Application is simple, just rub
the shellac onto the work piece. A circular or figure-eight pattern is
normally used and a bit of pressure is used to lay down the shellac.
The alcohol will soften the
shellac already on the piece and allow the new an existing shellacs to be
Even 100 year old
shellac will soften and redistribute when rubbed with alcohol. This allow
you to blend old and new areas seamlessly.
If the rubber starts to feel
sticky, just rub a finger wetted with olive oil across the rubber and
Once you have applied enough
shellac to reach a reasonable thickness, you can French-polish the finish
using fine pumice, olive oil and the rubber. The finish is fantastic.
Only a tiny amount of
pumice is applied to the face of the rubber. Shellac is then dripped onto
the pumice before rubbing on the case begins.
The pumice works in two
ways. First, it fills tiny crevices in the finish. Second, the mild
abrasiveness of the pumice actually polishes the finish.
Using pumice to smooth
the finish will further tend to match old and new finish areas.
As with applying
shellac, if things start to feel sticky, apply a little olive oil.
With the shellac built up, it
becomes very difficult to find the point where the original veneer ends and
the new "patch" begins.
Even close up, a faked joint is
difficult to find.
Faking is a great way to improve
the look of veneer repairs. Taking just a little time to create a practice
piece or two is all that is necessary for most people to master this useful
Chapter 5 of Extreme
Restoration goes into greater detail on the techniques for faking a
joint or damaged area of a case.