Making Chalky Textured Paint

If you’re familiar with Shabby Chic furniture repurposing, then you probably know all about Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint®. However, if you’re a woodworker who subscribes to every woodworking magazine out there, then you probably have no idea what Chalk Paint® even is.

Chalk Paint®, not to be confused with chalkboard paint, is a very easy to use paint that requires no sanding or priming to the wood. It is often used to revitalized antique furniture and leaves pieces with a warm matte finish. Simply wipe off the dirt on a piece of furniture and start painting. Its ease of use is what makes the paint so popular. The paint get its name from the chalky texture it leaves on the wood. The paint gives a piece of furniture a nice warm tone as opposed to the harsh look lacquer will often give. However, at nearly $40 a quart, the stuff is not cheap.

Annie Sloan is the British lady who invented the paint several decades ago. In fact, just recently her company trademarked the name Chalk Paint® creating a stink around the industry as there are several other companies out there branding their paint as a chalk paint, but only Annie Sloan makes the official Chalk Paint®.

Making paint with a chalky texture is not all that difficult. Many people will add an additive to latex paint like sanding grout or baking soda. Annie Sloan claims that the majority of her additive, but not all of it, is calcium carbonate also known as limestone. You can buy bags of calcium carbonate on Amazon for about $15.00. Each bag will make a couple of gallons of paint. Even though you’re technically not making Chalk Paint®, I found the additive to be close enough that it works just fine for me.

I bought a quart of Flat Black latex enamel at Lowes for about $10.00. Then following the instructions on the bag, I poured half of my paint into a container and added a 1/4 cup of calcium carbonate (limestone) additive to  the paint. I then added just a little bit of warm water to the to container to thin it out since the limestone thickens the paint. After stirring for a few minutes the paint is ready to use.

As you can see in the picture, the paint has a thickness to it. I simply brushed on a couple of coats waiting about an hour between coats. I then lightly sanded the piece with 320 grit sand paper knocking the paint off the corners and edges to give the piece a worn look. After wiping off the dust from the sand paper, I applied a wax to the piece to give it some sheen and to protect the paint.

Up close you can see how the piece is worn away a little bit at the corners and edges. What I like most about making this paint is that its intent is to make the piece look old. If the piece of furniture ever gets banged around and gets dings or dents on it, it will just add more character to the piece.

People who make their own chalky textured paint claim the biggest advantage is that you can make any color you want, which is true. However, my wife has found that the additive slightly changes the color of the paint. So if you go to the paint store and fall in love with a certain color, once you add the additive you may be disappointed with the color you end up with.

My Wife’s First Tool

My wife Anita has been repurposing old furniture and selling it in an antique store the past few months and often the repurposing requires upholstery work. A few days ago I was out-of-town and the upholstery stapler she was using kept failing. She called me on the phone and told me the driver would not retract when she shot a staple out of it. The stapler was a twenty-five year old Senco J tool that I bought for $5.00 when I worked for Senco so the fact that the driver gave out was no surprise. I told her that they probably don’t make parts for it anymore and she would be better off just buying a new gun. So she ends up going to a local Senco dealer and buying a SFW09 for $110 and she was back in business.

She uses the gun to upholster chairs with new fabric. This cloth is nothing more than a 10′ x 12′ painters drop cloth she bought a Lowe’s for $5.00. She washes the fabric then paints words on it with stencils. The result is quite impressive with the seat looking like it was upholstered with expensive $35/yard fabric.

The chair is for her sewing desk she’s been working on the past few weeks. The desk is the same desk I wrote about a few months ago about having to remake the feet.

https://mvflaim.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/repairing-a-desks-legs/

The desk was painted with chalk paint and the top was painted with enamel. She originally stained the top which I thought looked nice but she didn’t so she redid it. Regardless it still came out really nice with the total cost of the desk and chair under $100.

This how the feet finally turned out. As you can see, you can’t even tell they’ve been remade.

As far as the J tool goes. It was connected to the compressor but the compressor wasn’t on. So as she kept firing staples, the compressor gradually ran out of air and it prevented the driver from going back up into the piston. Oh well, at least now she has a gun that will last longer and give her more power than the old J tool. Oh I forgot to mention, I’m not allowed to touch her new stapler. : (

Repairing a Desk’s Legs

My wife Anita won this desk at a local auction a couple of weeks ago. She loved the curves of the desk and wants to use it for sewing. What she’s going to sew I have no idea but that ‘s what she wants it for. It was in decent shape with a few spots where the veneer needed to be glued down and the leg needed to be glued back to the frame but that’s easy stuff to fix. What really needed attention were the two legs in the back that were missing part of their feet.

More than likely, sometime in the past the desk sat in some water and both back feet became unglued from their leg. I knew Anita was planning on painting it so I just grabbed some straight grain cherry about 1″ thick and glued it onto both back legs.

Once the glued dried, I started filing away the wood trying to recreate the swoop of the pad. Since the bad legs were in the back, it wasn’t entirely necessary to make perfect matching feet with the ones in the front since no one would really see them while the desk was against the wall but I still wanted to give it my best shot.

I used a variety of rasps and MicroPlanes to shape the curve into the foot. I’ve made cabriolet legs before so I had a basic understanding of how to shape them. Once the general shape was created, I drew the bead onto the blank and used my Dremel to carve it in.

After shaving was completed, 80 and 150 grit sandpaper finalized the foot. I was quite pleased with the results.

One foot down, one to go. It took about 30 minutes for me to finish one foot listening to the Bengals game on the radio.

After I was done with both feet, I flipped over the desk to see how it looks. Not too shabby. Once the desk is painted no one will know that the feet where redone. Anita was impressed as well. She didn’t think I would have been able to match the two in the front. I guess I’m good for something.