"Cow Tail" Antiquing

A "cow tail" brush and spatter technique is one tool in the antique finisher's kit. October 14, 2010

What is the cow tail technique?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor S:
Cow tailing is a type of antiquing. The idea is to give the wood a dirty and beat up look; it is not meant to be a lightly scuffed or simply distressed application. Cow tailing is at the far end of the antiquing spectrum. There are a few different ways to achieve this look. Most folks now-a-days simply splatter glaze specks on the project and dent a couple corners and call it cow tailed... I have seen some pieces with sand grains brushed in with the stain and a few cheese grater swipes across the grain before finishing.

The method we use is almost unspeakable. If you love fine woodworking, you might want to stop reading now! We stab it (old forks are my preferred method), lightly grind it (high rpm grinder with wire wheel), beat it (homemade chain with a few add-ons) and cut it (very small chisel slits to imitate splitting). We glaze all dents and dings to make them appear old and dirty. If you are using a light stain, you may also want to turn your spray gun way down and fly speck the project. The idea is to make it look like an old piece that you bought at a farm auction.

From contributor R:
There is a distressing tool called a cow tail. It is used as a step in the glazing techniques when creating a distressed finish. Do a search in the knowledge base for distressed finishes and you will find a lot of info.

Basics of Furniture Distressing

From contributor D:

Cowtailing is a spatter technique done with a cow tail brush. The brush is handmade. The medium is usually glaze and is done prior to the last topcoating step. Cowtailing does fall under the rubric of antiquing, but it is only one specific antiquing step.

From contributor W:
Cow tail is the antique effect in furniture finishing. There are many ways to make it. We usually use glaze. The application can be done with brush or a special tool.