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12 Ways To Add Texture With Tools You Already Have

12 Ways To Add Texture With Tools You Already Have 

A big part of adding texture to your work with tools you already have, is looking beyond their typical use. Sure, your nail set was made to set nails, but it can also be used to create small dimples in wood. A chisel was made to pare small surfaces and remove small chips of wood, but it can also be used to create slightly faceted, uneven surfaces. I’m not encouraging you to abuse tools, or use them in a dangerous or careless way. Just keep your eyes open to what a tool can do for you in terms of adding texture to a surface.

This list is by no means exhaustive; it’s just a starting point to introduce woodworkers to what can be done if you cross the tools you likely already have in your workshop with a little outside-the-box thinking. I didn’t even mention how spokeshaves, handplanes, carving knives, blow torches and other tools can also be used to add gorgeous texture to wood.
Nail Set 


Best Use: Works well in most woods. Can be time consuming if texturing large areas. Great for creating small to medium sized areas of focus.
What to do: If your nail set is old or has been abused, you will have to smooth its sides and end in order to create a cleaner, rounder hole. A belt sander is great for this simple task. Use either a light tap with a mallet or hammer for a shallow dimple, or a heavier hit for a deeper, more pronounced effect. If you’re finding you are getting lots of chipping and splintering space the dimples slightly further apart. Different diameters of set will give varied looks.
Effect: Great for creating an even, light texture to fill in smaller areas. Can be spaced evenly or randomly.
Carving Gouge


Best Use: As long as the gouge is sharpened correctly, it will work nicely in most woods. Heavily figured or very hard woods may pose a challenge, especially if the gouge isn’t extremely sharp. Very soft woods will also crush with a less-than-razor-sharp gouge. Works quick enough to cover large surfaces in a reasonable time, especially with larger gouges.
What to do: Though passes generally work best crossgrain, working parallel to the grain is possible with care. If an extra-deep groove is needed, multiple passes may be required. With firm footing, use both hands to control the gouge. Practice will give a good feel for how to produce the size and depth of groove you’re looking for.
Effect: Shallow grooves can feel quite delicate, while deep grooves are a very dramatic addition to a project.



Best Use: Works well in most woods. Can be time-consuming if texturing large areas. Great for creating small sized areas of focus where only light texturing is needed.
What to do: With awl in one hand and mallet or hammer in the other, slowly add tiny dimples to the wood. Very similar to using a nail set to add texture.
Effect: Great for creating an even, very light texture to fill in smaller areas.
Cold Chisel 


Best Use: Works great in most woods to create a textured border, or can be used to texture larger surfaces.
What to do: Used similarly to the nail set and awl, except the grooves work best when oriented parallel with the grain of the wood. Cross-grain grooves have a tendency to split the grain and cause splintering. Sharpening the tool may improve crossgrain work. Strike lightly for almost imperceptible results, or heavily for deeper, more pronounced grooves.
Effect: Narrow but long triangular grooves are left in the woods surface.
Screw or Lag Bolt


Best Use: Works best on softer woods, but can be used on medium density species as well. Works great near an edge of a workpiece to produce a border as the head of the screw or bolt will not permit it to be being used anywhere but the edge. Removing the head is also an option.
What to do: Hold the screw or lag bolt in one hand and a hammer in the other. Be sure to keep your fingers out of the way of the hammer, as you will likely be holding the screw or bolt fairly close to where the blows occur. With one finger referencing off the edge of the workpiece, slowly move the screw or bolt along, using quick hammer blows to press the threads into the wood. You will likely notice small flats on the threads, where the hammer is hitting the threads. Keep those flats up or the textured marks will vary slightly.
Effect: Small marks add slight texture to a surface. You can change the effect by holding the screw or bolt at an angle to the edge, as well as striking the screw or bolt near the center or one end.


Best Use: Works with all woods, and in many different situations. Can add very dramatic texture over a small or large surface.
What to do: Chuck a bit into your router and make multiple passes over the workpiece. There are many ways to proceed, but carefully controlling the path of the router somehow is usually the best approach.
Effect: If a circle-cutting jig is used circular grooves can be added in a geometric pattern. A template guide and bandsawn template can be used to cause the router to follow certain paths, creating various effects. Adjusting the type of bit, depth of cut or number/density of passes can create heavy or light texture. There are lots of texturing possibilities with a router.


Best Use: Because a chisel is flat, it’s easiest to use on outside surfaces. It’s possible to work flat or inside surfaces if you’re determined. Any density of wood is appropriate.
What to do: Create faceted surfaces with a sharp chisel, working ‘downhill’ to reduce tear-out. Sometimes it’s easiest to create the general shape you want with other tools/methods, and then add texture to the surface with a chisel.
Effect: Texture from a chisel is less obvious, and can play a more subtle role in a piece of furniture.
Rotary Tool 


Best Use: To create a subtle, even texture on flat or round surfaces. Texturing large areas will be time consuming. Though results depend on bit selection, this technique works well on most species.
What to do: Systematically move the bit over the workpiece, creating small cuts directly beside one another.
Effect: Bit selection will determine the type of texture left, but a tight, simple texture will likely be the result.
Round Nail Head 


Best Use: Best for small areas of light texture on softer woods.
What to do: Used similar to the nail set and awl. First chuck the nail in a drill, pull the trigger and smooth the nail head with some 120 then 220 grit sandpaper to remove any inconsistencies. Light hammer taps are all that’s needed to create the textured dimple in softer wood.
Effect: Smooth, concave dimples in the wood that can be spaced evenly or randomly.
Pyrography Pen


Best Use: Deeper texture can be added on softer woods. Great for texturing smaller areas.
What to do: Adjust the temperature to produce the type of effect you’re looking for, then touch the pen tip to the wood’s surface to add texture. A random or even pattern can be created.
Effect: The effect depends partially on the tip used, but generally speaking a small round or linear mark is burnt into the wood, creating a small recess in the wood. The texture effect is fairly light, and comes with a visual effect of the darker burnt area.
Round File 


Best Use: On corners of most woods. Non-porous woods generally splinter less, but if care is taken porous woods can be worked. Not great for high-use edges, as the wood remaining on the edge can be susceptible to damage.
What to do: With the file in both hands, guide it into the corner of the wood at a 45º angle. Don’t push too hard or you will likely chip the area. I find it’s best to ease the edge before adding texture to it, as it will be less likely to splinter. Try to space the notches as evenly as possible.
Effect: A row of notches is created on the edge of a workpiece.
Angle Grinder 


Best Use: Works well in most woods. Much less subtle than many other forms of texture. Best for medium to large areas, but can be used on small areas in experiences hands.
What to do: Practice on some scrap as an angle grinder works very fast. Move the tool across the workpiece in a sweeping motion. Experiment with different speeds, angles, etc. to produce a variety of effects. Make sure you’re familiar with power carving before starting.
Effect: A heavily textured, wavy surface is left. Slightly different surfaces can be produced using different cutting attachments, or manipulating the grinder certain ways.

DIY wooden texture stamps for kids

What you’ll need to make the wooden texture stamps:

  1. Using a saw, cut a thick branch into sections 12 cm apart.
  2. Use the sand paper to smooth the top, bottom and edges of the branch sections.
  3. Grab one of your tools and a hammer. Let’s use the nut for this example. Place the nut on the top, flat side of the wood and then give it one strong hit with a hammer or mallet. The deeper the indent in the wood, the better the stamping effect later on. Space the nut indents out to make a pattern on the wooden top.4
  4. Do this for all the stamps, except for the screw.  Place the screw on its side and hammer the side of the screw into the wood.
  5. You can turn your branch stump over and create another texture on the other side or you can use them like I have, as singular stamps.
  6. Give the top another slight sand paper when you’re finished.
  7. Time to paint and play!


How to carve rocks using a dremel

First you’re going to need to gather your rocks and a Dremel with a diamond carving tip and several different sizes of a grinding tip.  All of these tips were included with my Dremel so check your drill bits before you purchase any. You’ll also need a cup of water and a towel. 

Start with the diamond carving tip set on a slower speed. The slower speeds will give you a lot more control.  Outline the shape of your design using light strokes. If you press down hard you will wear out your bit and it the carving will be more uneven. 

I found that the smoothest carvings were from using the dremel tool at a 45 degree angle rather than using the tip straight up and down. 

You want to make a rough outline of your shape and any shading you want done with this tip. It cuts deeper and better than just using a grinding tip.

Once you have your rough outline done, switch your drill bit to a grinding tip.  You want to use the grinding tip to even out all the carvings. Simply go over the carving with the grinding tip a few times until you’re happy with how it looks. 

A lot of tutorials online suggest pouring water over the rock while you’re using the Dremel to keep the bit cool and help it last longer. 

I tried this and honestly it made the carving really hard to see. I found that taking a break every minute or so to dunk the rock in water and then dry it with a towel worked the best. It gives your eyes a break from doing small work and helped give the tip and the rock a time to briefly cool down. 

How to write on the rocks – All of the lettering was done using the diamond drill bit. Honestly it’s easy to make mistakes. I recommend going very slow when writing and only make one pass. If you want to go over it again you can but I found that most of the mistakes were done when I tried to go over the writing several times. You can also use the diamond bit to drill a hole straight through any of the flat rocks.  Just be warned! It’s a messy job.

To drill a hole in a rock you do have to keep it very wet and use constant pressure on the Dremel.  It will be messy and dust from the rock will go everywhere.  


Reclaimed Wood Cow Art

I've been searching for the perfect piece art to display above our living room fireplace since we moved in a year ago. After spending the past year staring at the blank wall, I finally decided to try and create my own art. 

I decided to use some the wood from our wood pile in the back yard. The wood came with the property when we bought it (I believe it used to be an old shed that was torn down) so it didn't cost a dime! I found a few nice pieces and cut them into 4 foot lengths. 

Since this wood was going to be inside our home I wanted to make sure it was really clean. I sprayed it using the jet setting on our hose then used soapy water and a scrub brush to remove any remaining dirt. After rinsing off the soapy water, I gave them a second scrubbing with bleach water then left them in a sunny spot to dry. 

After sanding the boards, I attached two boards across the back to hold everything together.

I found this adorable image on Free Stock Photos and did a little photoshoping to remove the tag that was in his ear in the original photo. Then I used the program that came with my printer to enlarge the image and printed it onto regular paper to make sure it was the correct size. This ended up being a pain in the butt and used up a lot of ink!! Since the image printed out on multiple pages I had to tape them together to get a visual of the size. The first image was way to small. The second image was still a little too small. I finally got it right on the third image. 

Once I was happy with the size I reprinted the image onto wax paper. To do this, I cut a piece of wax paper and taped it to a piece of regular paper. I then placed it in my printer so that the image would be printed onto the side with the wax paper. 

The ink does not stick to the wax paper like it does with normal paper so I had to be very careful not to touch the image or it will smear. I placed the image upside down on the wood and used a thick piece of plastic (a credit card would work too) to rub the back of the image and transfer it to the wood. 
Sorry I don't have more pictures but once the image was printed, the ink started drying and was harder to transfer so I didn't have a lot of time to stop and take photos. Basically I started by printing the ear of the cow and transferred it to the wood. Then I printed the next page, lined it up with the image that was already transferred, pressed it down transferring that image to the wood, and so on, and so on, until I had the entire cow image transferred to the wood.

And here is the final project! Don't you just love that sweet little face! I'm a sucker for calves and seeing this guy every time I walk into the room just makes me smile.

This thing is supper heavy and we have not decided how we want to hang it yet. We'll probably end up using some sort of french cleat. But for now, I'm fine with it just sitting on top of the mantel.  

The Way Wood Works

Wood is a cantankerous substance; there’s no two ways about it. Its virtues, of course, are legendary. It’s attractive, abundant and easy to work. Pound for pound, it’s stronger than steel. If properly finished and cared for it will last indefinitely. But none of that makes up for the fact that it’s a complex and often perplexing building material.Unlike metals and plastics, whose properties are fairly consistent, wood is wholly inconsistent. It expands and contracts in all directions, but not at the same rate.It’s stronger in one direction than it is in another. Its appearance changes not only from species to species, but from log to log — sometimes board to board.That being so, how can you possibly use this stuff to make a fine piece of furniture? Or a fine birdhouse, for that matter? To work wood — and have it work for you — you must understand three of its unique properties:

• Wood has grain.
• Wood moves more across the grain than along it.
• Wood has more strength along the grain than across it.

Sounds trite, I know. These are “everyone-knows-that” garden-variety facts. But there is more grist here for your woodworking mill than might first appear.

Wood Has Grain

As a tree grows, most of the wood cells align themselves with the axis of the trunk, limb or root. These cells are composed of long thin bundles of fibers, about 100 times longer than they are wide. This is what gives wood its grain direction.Additionally, a tree grows in concentric layers, producing annual rings. You must pay close attention to these two characteristics — grain direction and annual rings — the way a sailor watches the wind. Ignore them, and they’ll bite you bigtime.Sawyers commonly use two methods to cut trees into boards, each revealing a different type of grain.

• Plain-sawn boards are cut tangent to the annual rings. The sawyer “cuts around”the log, turning it for each series of cuts so the faces of the boards will show mostly flat grain (also called tangential or plain grain).

• Quartersawn boards are cut through the radius of the growth rings. The sawyer cuts the logs into quarters or bolts, and then saw each bolt so the boards show quarter grain (or radial grain) on their faces.

Lumber doesn’t always show a single type of grain on its face. Plain-sawn boards in particular may show mixed grain — flat grain in one area and quarter grain in another. The grain between the two, where the surface is cut at a 30- to 60-degree angle to the annual rings, displays rift grain.Each type of grain has a distinct pattern, depending on the wood species.You can use these grain patterns to enhance the design of your furniture or your bird-houses. More importantly, if you know how to “read” the patterns, you can predict which way the wood will move and how much.

How to Create a Limed Wood Effect with Liberon Liming Wax

Step One
First you need to open the soft grain of the wood by brushing the piece of furniture with a Liberon Liming Bronze brush working with the grain.

Depending on the type of wood to be limed the obtained contrast between the opened soft grain and the hard grain will be quite different. It will be very visible on hard woods such as oak and mahogany, and less so on soft woods like pine. Always remove the surface dust with a Liberon Tack Cloth.

Step Two 
Colour the wood if you wish using Liberon Palette Wood Dyes. This stage is optional; you can also obtain a liming effect on the natural wood colour. A dark wood will render the limed effect more striking than a light wood.

Step Three
Apply Liberon Liming Wax with a pad of Liberon Ultra Fine Steel Wool (Grade 0000). You can also choose one of the coloured waxes such as the Liberon Special Effects Waxes as well. Apply the wax liberally in a circular motion until it fills the grain covering the whole piece of furniture. Allow to dry for five to 10 minutes. The result should be a contrast in colour between the wood and the wax.

Step Four
For a water resistant finish remove the excess Liming Wax using Liberon Finishing Oil applied with a cotton cloth and wipe off immediately. Leave to dry for at least five hours between coats. Several coats may be needed.

Where a water resistant finish is not required apply Liberon Black Bison Wax Polish (Neutral) with a clean cotton cloth to remove the surplus Liming Wax from the surface while still leaving it in the grain. Leave to dry for five minutes before buffing to a soft sheen with a clean cotton cloth or Liberon Furniture Brush.


 I would like to introduce to you, a new product that has just landed on our shelves.

The live centre set from Nova. This thing is indeed brilliant and is rated very highly on most knowledgeable woodworking websites.

If the above video is too long for your liking, we recommend  a slightly shorter one


What impresses me with this set is that the fittings or attachments all fit using a taper fit.

What ‘s more, is there are three bearings in the housing, ensuring stability with zero run out or wobble!


It is an incredibly well thought out and nicely designed live centre set, perfect for an improved lathe use experience keeping us wood turners in mind.


All the attachments also lend it an ability to be way more than just a standard live centre.

It is definitely not the cheapest, but it is by far the BEST option..

Nova live centre system and step cone


Your favourite tool breaks, what now.

Your favourite tool breaks, what now.


The unthinkable happens while you are happily engaged on your project in your workshop.

The tool (let’s call it your router for now) starts making a horrible screeching noise and starts slowing down.

You now need to get this thing fixed as your project is standing still and there is nothing you can do, short of buying a new one that will get things going.


Off you go to your favourite store to hand in the router.

Now, before you do this – follow these steps;


1) If this is still covered by your guarantee, get hold of your slip or proof of purchase.

    This just makes the process a whole lot faster, as the repair centre may not process this repair until the importer gives the authorization.

2) Remove all the loose bits and accessories i.e the fence and the router bit in the bit holder.

    Sometimes it is advisable to remove your collet and nut.

    By the same token you do not hand the chuck key in if you are taking a drill to be repaired

    It really is not necessary to remove the plug from the machine.

3) If you have left something on the machine make sure they note it on your receipt and on the job card.

    This is entirely your responsibility


You will get a receipt as proof from the repair centre, at the same time ask them for a lead time for the particular repair job.

If you are in doubt about the severity of the damage on the machine, you can provide the workshop with a maximum figure that

 you are prepared to spend on the machine or request a formal quote.


Remember that there will often be a quote fee if you do not accept the repair cost (the repair guy also has to eat)

Most repair centres will put a mark or a job number on the machine to identify it if it is returned.

The reason this is done so that the workshop can re-trace the history of that particular machine.

It is also your right to ask them to run the machine before you take it home as proof that it has in fact been repaired, and you can set you mind at ease.

You will get a mutter or two about trust or some such nonsense, just ignore that and smile politely and insist you want to see it run.

The workshop will also give you a rough time line as to how long this will all take. Again this is also dependent on make and model.

When you are buying a machine ask the salesperson about the availability of spare parts, services and repairs etc...


One last thing, please tell them what happened and how your machine got sick.

The repair guys have a lot of experience in this field (averaging 10 machines per day).

The more info they have the better the judgment call on what to repair and replace.






 Sharpening stones have been used since we started making furniture, the more proficient you become in sharpening your tools  the more fun you will have with your woodworking.

The stones are very brittle and break very easily, so try not to drop it.

Sharp tools are a joy to use and just make the job easier and faster. The bonus being that your finished job will look better, no torn grain etc.

Remember dull tools reflect the light from the edge, sharp ones do not.


Heat destroys the temper in your cutting tools, that is why using a good sharpening stone makes good sense.

Remember tungsten tipped tools are not honed or sharpened using natural stone.


just a few and most common types that come to mind below.

All decent woodworking stores should have a nice selection of various types of the stones below.

Like most things woodworking, some find better favor than others, but you should have at least a few of these in your workshop.




These are often called carborundum stones or oil stones and are often married to each other. 

One side being coarse and the other a finer grit.

The lubricant used with these stones is a fine to a medium grade oil.

This floats the metal shavings and particle dust away. The life of your stone will be very short indeed if you forget to use a lubricant.

The stones vary in price, from very cheap to medium. They are probably the most commonly used stone in workshops around the world.

TIP: If your stone is old and gunged up, give it a rinse with some brake fluid, this is a natural degreaser.


 b) Water stones


As the name implies NEVER use oil, only water as a lubricant.

Water stones were originally found in the Japanese woodworking culture.

They are both natural and manufactured.

They can also be found with two grits on one stone. 

The particles are not as densely bound together so are constantly washed out. This keeps the stone nice and sharp, getting the job done in record time.

These stones go down to an extremely fine grit. You can get finer than 8000 grit but you will not see a noticeable difference in  the finish.

This has over the years found favor with the more traditional woodworker. They are also very expensive and need to be maintained to be kept in tip top condition.

If used a lot they are kept in a special bath in water. The top is turned over and placed on the top of the bath ready for use.

Often there are three or four stones fitted next to each other, so all your grits are immediately available for use. 

As they are used the top is flipped over every few minutes to keep the stones wet and well lubricated.

They cut well and fast, but must be regularly dressed to keep them true.

A nuguro stone is used to dress a water stone


 c) Diamond stones


These are manufactured on a composite (plastic) or aluminium base.

The grit is just differing coarseness of diamond dust bonded to the substrate.

These stones can be used to hone your TCT(tungsten carbide tipped) tools

Most people believe diamonds are forever, this is not so in the case of diamond sharpening stones.

They need to be maintained and kept clean to continue working for a number of years.

Their big advantage is the ability to maintain a perfectly flat surface, so important in the sharpening process. 

Some manufacturers prefer you to use them dry(Eezy lap) and some need water to be most effective (DMT)


 d) Natural stones.



The first stones used were the natural stones. The harder finer stones for the finishing work and the softer coarser stones for shaping work.

They vary a lot in color. Black being the super fine and the softer coarser ones are a whitish color.

This is not always so,so be careful when buying these stones. Try not buy a multicolored stone as it could well wear down unevenly.

These are often much sought after and can be the most expensive stones you can buy.

As we have mined and dug up mountains of these stones they have become smaller.

There was a story doing the rounds a few years ago that some bright spark decided to mine the Arkansaw stones using dynamite, hense the small stones.

Though not sure about this, is would explain why the bigger stones are pretty scarce.

A 200x60mm Arkensaw stone is very difficult to get hold of these days and even if you could obtain one it will be exorbitantly expensive.

They do a fantastic job of keeping your tools in tip top shape.


 Please call John on 041 585 6996 should you be in the market for Sharpening stones and want to be sure that you purchase the correct stone for your application.




Mitre settings for a table saw

Mitre settings for a table saw

Where accurate 45 degree mitres are needed for framing or segmented wood work there is a way of creating a shop made jig to give the required accuracy. The jig is not difficult to make but there are some safety aspects to consider

Construction is as follows

  1. Using your woodworking machinery available, machine 2 pieces of hardwood that will fit  into the two grooves milled into the saw table but about 1 or 2mm narrower.The left hand one is screwed and glued into place. The right hand one has elongated screw holes to allow for sideways adjustment. The strips must rub against theoutside of the grooves. Apply wax to the runners to ensure a smooth action.  If you only have one groove that will work.
  2. Supawood makes a good platform for the jig as it does not warp. Cut to approximately 500x400
  3. Fit the two hardwood strips into the grooves then screw the supawood onto the strips
  4. Now mount two pieces of 25x60mm  (approx.) to form a right angle. These should be as near to 45 degrees to the blade as you can get
  5. Place a square in the right angle formed and check that the pieces are exactly at a 90 degree angle before the screws are finally tightened. This is important as the whole accuracy of the jig depends on this.

For safety it is a good idea to fit a box over the blade as shown in the illustration above. The Perspex cover is a good idea but will require cleaning.

For segmented work a variation of the jig is shown below

Mitre settings

Framing and segmented work demand absolute accuracy when cutting. These jigs will solve your problem.