Friday, June 15, 2012

DIY Driftwood Tutorial

DIY Driftwood Tutorial by Craftiments.com

Living landlocked in the Midwest, I can't stroll on the beach collecting driftwood.  I wanted driftwood for my beach themed summer mantel, but the cost of purchasing and shipping the real thing was just too much for me.  What else could I do except find a way to make it myself?  Using my chemistry background, I've developed a simple process for making faux driftwood from sticks and logs found in your yard.  Let's get started!


Materials
- eye protection and rubber gloves
- dry sticks and small logs
- hammer, other tools that could be used for distressing the wood
- Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (MSDS)
- hot water
- container large enough to hold the wood
- wire brush
- (optional) oven for drying the wood
-  sandpaper or sander power tool

1.  First collect dry sticks and small logs.  Mine were small logs from a cedar tree we cut down last year.  A lot of the outer bark had already peeled off which was a plus.

2.  Now take your hammer and beat up your wood.  Be sure you wear eye protection.  I smashed the ends of the logs to make them look less perfectly cut.  I also used a chisel to split off some of the wood. 

DIY Driftwood Tutorial from Craftiments.com

3.  Fill your container with hot water.  I just used the hot water in our garden hose that was sitting out in the sun.  Put on your rubber gloves.  Start adding the washing soda while stirring with one of your logs.  Keep adding and stirring until no more will dissolve.  CAUTION:  The resulting solution is caustic so you do not want to get it on your skin or in your eyes.

4.  Place your wood in the solution and let it soak for 12-24 hours.  I needed a large rock to hold the logs under because they wanted to float.

DIY Driftwood Tutorial from Craftiments.com

5.  A few times during the soaking period, pull out the logs and use the wire brush to scrub off the layers of bark which have softened.  Make sure you are wearing your gloves and eye protection.  I did it twice, but it could take more or less depending how much bark is on your wood. 

6.  When all of the bark has been removed, rinse your logs very well with water.  Now you can leave them in the sun to dry.  As always, I am impatient so I put them in my oven at 250 F for about an hour. 

7.  Once dry, it's time to make your wood look like it has been eroded by the ocean waves.  Use sandpaper or a sander to round out all the sharp edges.  Completely sand down any small branches that don't look like they would survive a beating in the ocean. 

DIY Driftwood Tutorial from Craftiments.com

Now go decorate with your faux driftwood!

DIY Driftwood Tutorial from Craftiments.com


Are you interested in how this works?

The active ingredient in the washing soda is sodium carbonate.   When dissolved in water, it makes a caustic solution (high pH) that breaks down the lignin in the wood.  Lignin is a component of plant cell walls which gives them strength and rigidity.   Breaking down the lignin softens the bark so it can be easily scraped off.  In addition, the components of the wood that give it color are released (you may notice that the water becomes reddish brown), which lightens the surface of the wood.


Thank your for featuring my driftwood tutorial!

IhookedupwithHoHlamespice

43 comments :

  1. Oh wow! I didn't know you could do this. I'll have to show my dad this, he loves driftwood.

    (first time here)

    - Melanie
    http://mailboxjourney.com/

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  2. That is an awesome technique! It really looks authentic! I'm going to pin that to my decorating inspiration board.

    Thanks for stopping by The Cozy Old Farmhouse.

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  3. Wow, wow WOW! So awesome!! I featured you today in my Friday I'm In Love favorites!!

    http://socialsalutations.blogspot.com/2012/06/friday-im-in-love-dreaming-of-beach.html

    XOXO
    Jenn @ Social Salutations

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    1. Thanks for featuring me on your blog!

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  4. Wow, this is cool! They really look like the real deal. Impressive!

    Shared on FJI Facebook and pinned for SNS 139. :)

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150992949801141&set=a.192514281140.164586.175378011140&type=1&theater

    Donna

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for pinning and featuring me on facebook!

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  5. These look great, thanks for sharing

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  6. What a cool idea!!! We have lots of driftwood beaches close to me but we are not supposed to remove any of the wood. What a great solution!

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  7. Awesome tutorial! Being midwestern landlocked myself, this will help! I tried to convince my husband to let me bring driftwood back from Hawaii last month, but he seemed to think we didn't have the luggage space for JUNK. How dare he!!!

    Jeannine @ The Concrete Cottage

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  8. LOVE!! Thank you so much for telling us the secret to making driftwood when you're land-locked!!
    <3 Christina at I Gotta Create!
    Wildly Original Round Up party is open.

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  9. I nearly shouted out loud with delight at this- FINALLY!!! I was so, so frustrated... finding all those awesome driftwood projects, but no driftwood- no joy. You made my mothers' daughter a very happy gal indeed!

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  10. sorry, I forgot- obviously this will go straight to my pinterest. Happy days!

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  11. oh I seriously am going to try this!! I love driftwood and I had no idea you could make your own!

    I featured this on my blog today:
    http://christinasadventures.com/2012/06/sunday-features-77.html

    I also pinned it:
    http://pinterest.com/christinasadven/20-below-features/

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  12. We do this to "barn wood" for projects. That way we have no fresh cut areas exposed.

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  13. Wow, I love a smart project, and this is one for sure. I live by the beach and hardly ever find driftwood. I would love to try this myself. Thanks for sharing your chemistry skills with us. Brilliant! Found you at Lines Across. Hope you'll stop in and visit at Quirky Vistas sometime.
    Liz

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  14. Very interesting! The wood likes like the real thing. Thanks so much for sharing at Etcetorize this week~

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  15. This is so cool! You did a great job :)

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  16. How cool! What a great way to create your own!

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  17. I love it! I have to pin this.

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  18. FANTASTIC! I'm not land locked, but is is often hard to find just the right piece of wood. Thanks so much for this :o)

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  19. This is so neat! Thanks for the tutorial and explaining the reason the washing soda works. My husband had a huge pile of limbs and sticks behind the shed...hmmmm..maybe they'll become driftwood.
    Babs

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  20. Great idea. I have a few pieces of driftwood, but not nearly enough for my tastes or for some projects.

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  21. Okay, this is by far the most interesting post I have found. ANd more so because I like a bit of science to my project...we are Asian you see! LOVE your work and I am definitely doing this.

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  22. Well, now...this is just all KINDS of awesome!!!

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  23. Amazing! This is going to really deplete our kindling pile . . .

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  24. Thanks so much for sharing this info for us. I was wondering if regular "land locked" wood could be turned into something that would pass for driftwood and you have gone and done the hard part of figuring out the process for us. I saw your post as it was featured on the "At The Picket Fence" blog.

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  25. I love this! Thank you so much, I can't wait to try it.

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  26. Do you think highly salted water could act as the high pH agent to create this look?

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    Replies
    1. No, table salt (sodium chloride) will not change the pH.

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  27. I love this! One of my favorite things to do with my youngest is collect rocks, driftwood, and seashells...you can never have enough.

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  28. Rockin! I was all over the place lookin for places to get driftwood, now i have an endless supply.

    Thanks!

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  29. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing : )

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  30. Thanks for this, I would love to give it a try!

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  31. I always have washing soda on hand! Thanks for sharing this!

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  32. Is there anyway this would work with untreated lumber? (like 2x4's for rustic signs and wall hangings?) thanks!

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  33. Fantastic! Just wondering how to get rid of the solution…did you add more water?

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    Replies
    1. Yes I diluted it with more water, then dumped it slowly down the sink with lots of running water.

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  34. Where can I buy the Arm & Hammer Washing Soda?

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    Replies
    1. I found mine at Walmart in the laundry aisle.

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