Pumice Furniture Antiquing

Tips on different ways to apply pumice or rottenstone to furniture, so that some dust remains on the piece for an antique look. April 17, 2009

I am looking for the correct way to apply pumice or rottenstone to furniture for an antique look. Although many people use it strictly for polishing I have seen it applied and left on the piece as an accent - leaving the powder on the piece. Itís done in the final stages of finishing. I have a client who is requesting this and as a high end shop I've been surprised that none of my five finishers have ever done this as itís popular in pieces of furniture needing to look very old or antiqued.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
The usual method is to apply a little size to the areas where the pumice is intended to stick on the work pieces and then dust the pumice on and let the size dry and follow by polishing it off a little to get the loosest particles and perhaps to clean up the edges and high areas of the profiles. Any size could work from varnish to clear acrylics. Slower sizes like spar varnish give tons of time to work but need more dry time. Wax can be used but the finish is not really permanent then and the pumice could be polished off at any time.

Rottenstone is darker and more often used in this way than pumice but the process is the same for either. The rottenstone looks more like household dust and so gives a more commonly desired aged look. Have your guys practice on some scrap cabinet doors or profiled samples and they will soon get a feel for it.

From contributor R:
One way to do this is to melt some clear paste wax until its very soft and kind of mushy. While the wax is in this condition, stir in some pumice or rottenstone and mix it up real well. Once youíre done mixing it up, let the wax dry back to its original consistency. Once it has hardened apply it to whatever youíre applying it to. Let it set up and when it has, buff it off.

From the original questioner:
I have the materials on order and will try both of these techniques when they come in.

From contributor C:
Some suppliers have only one grade of pumice powder while others carry up to three grades of it (coarse, medium, fine). I can't really advise you which would work best for you - you might want to try them all. Woodcraft carries Behlen's pumice in medium-coarse and fine (two grades).