How to burn and distress wood

Updated February 21, 2017

The process of distressing wood can be done with just a few tools from around the house. There are some simple techniques that will give even the newest wood an old and worn appearance. This is quite handy when you do not have access to naturally distressed wood and you are going for a rustic look.

Place the wood on a hard flat surface.

Strike the wood in various spots with either end of a hammer. The amount of force depends on what effect you are going for, and varying the strikes will give a more realistic look.

Scratch and peck at the surface with a screwdriver. This will add extra marks to the wood and create a linear pattern to go along with the random nicks the hammer strikes created.

Light the blowtorch and set to a blue flame. It depends on the style of blowtorch you have, but the dial is usually located on the handle of the torch portion.

Place the board on a flat fireproof surface.

Pass the torch across the surface of the wood. Determine how close your particular torch will allow you to get to the surface. You only want to scorch the wood. Do not let it catch on fire.


When using the blowtorch make sure that you have water or a fire extinguisher within arms reach.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Blowtorch
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About the Author

Philip Powe started writing in 1987 for St. Louis area newspapers. He has since written for "St. Clair County Historical Society Journal" and the "American Association of State and Local Historians Journal." Concentrations are in home and garden, philosophy and history. Powe holds a Master of Arts in intellectual history from Southern Illinois University.