Getting that 'silver grey' look... Karl. A

edited August 2022 in Working with Wood
This topic is dedicated to sharing techniques for how to get that (thought) elusive silver grey look to your woodwork.

It seems like everyone strives for that perfect look, the aged grey faded and weather beaten effect, the feel, the conveyance of age.

So, lets kick this thread off anew as requested in another build thread in order to keep that thread 'clean' and focused on it's build.

Proto pic's of sun bleached, tannin rich, fade to grey and just plain simply beautifully aged structures are welcomed to give us all inspiration, something to strive for and to follow.

Personally I just use chalk and alcohol, 3-4 steps, keep it simple and follow Brett's guidelines, easily repeatable and looks great every time.


  • edited March 2021
    Two different builds in progress from back in 2010

    tgether02 copy

  • Nice color. Do you remember the recipe?
  • Nicely captures the "elusive" silver gray look. I agree, how'd you do it?
  • edited March 2021
    Here is what I wrote in the thread back in 2010 Bryan and Tom. The a/i in the beginning was just to knock off the 'new' look of the strip wood.

    ""Thanks Danny,

    After the a&i had throughly dried I coloured the wood further using the chalk method from the Tool/Rigging shed kits. I used dark, medium and light grey chalks.
    Most pieces then got another a&i swipe with a paintbrush, some got a light sanding with 400 grit to enhance the grain and some got a polishing using photocopy paper to give them a silvery shine(which doesnt show in the pics)

    Karl.A ""
  • i thinki'll be placing an order with dick blick.
  • Karl, how were the knots accomplished here? They look more subtle than toothpicks.

  • Thanks Karl for the explanation. I'll have to give it a try. I love the silvery gray tone to the walls.
  • edited October 2021
    Thanks George and Tom.
    geoawelch said:

    Karl, how were the knots accomplished here? They look more subtle than toothpicks.

    Sorry for the slow reply George, the knots for this build were done with a sharpened pencil point. Rocked up and down the board to give the elongation, some had the pencil dragged slightly up and down the board to enhance the effect.


  • Here's another former thread that I'm reviewing for a new build I'm working on. The tread isn't all that old but the theme is just the look I'll be trying to achieve for a plank roof I plan to use...gotta luv the hidden gems that are buried from everyday site on this forum
  • edited July 2022
    This conversation was posted in Ken's Shelby's build thread.
    randyp said:

    Ken as usual a great build. Looking forward to seeing you do the shake shingles. What are you going to use for the shakes? I was in Florida two weeks ago. I went to a cigar store with my brother in law. I got a good supply of the thin cider used in cigar boxes. I think I may try that when I get to the shake shingles on my rigging shed. My only concern is the color. Changing the redish cider color to the weathered gray of an old roof. Always good to see one of your builds. Randy

    kebmo said:

    i did the same thing, but found it very difficult to get the color right on the cigar box cedar. i never did get the color i was hoping for, so i scrapped the idea.

    So as not to detract from Ken's build thread I'll post the information here...

    For the cedar sheets found in cigar boxes, or the cedar sheets found at a grocery store for wrapping food in and then grilling,
    all you need to do to colour them to a natural silver grey aged look with variation and natural tones is ... pin them to a wall or fence that gets afternoon sun.

    Leave them there for 12 - 18 months in the rain, weather and sun and you will have perfectly coloured grey/silver sheets ready to be cut into individual shingles and cover your roof.
    The tannins in the red cedar will naturally react to the sunlight and give you the perfect "silver grey" that you are looking for.
    You just can't get more natural weathering than that !!!

    Yes, it works great and yes, we actually did it... mostly as an experiment, but with outstanding results.

    There is also another quicker way to get that individuaL silver shingle look, either using the cedar sheets or 1/64" plywood for that prototypical thickness.
    I'll dig out some supplies, (that are around here, somewhere,) and detail that quicker process in the next few days.

  • i spit lemonade all over when i read that. i'm still laughing. why that never occurred to me will bother me forever, cuz i have a brand new cedar fence to pin them to, but after my failure to get the color i wanted, i trashed em and no longer have any cedar sheets.
  • edited July 2022
    Kev…. I‘be got some extra (4x8 sheets) I’ll mail to you if you can wait till next month when I return to Florida
  • Look in the hardware section at Homey Depot....look for the veneer strips...they come in a few different type and tones of wood...
  • edited July 2022
    Muddy….there’s actually a thread on the forum which talks about using the veneer banding for shingles. It’s either in Working With Wood or perhaps Techniques. The thickness of the veneer banding limits the use to O Scale

    It’s in Techniques June 2014 by Waynelp titled Wood Shingles in O Scsle
  • Thanks Karl, for the insight on the weathering of the cider. I remember years ago reading in a modeling magazine of someone doing that with stripwood. Of course when he got just the weathered color he wanted and started to build his model he was short of stripwood. The 12 to 18 month time frame is a bit daunting I think i will put some of the cedier between two boards and lay them up on my roof today. I will put the work I have started on the rigging shed back in the box and see what happens with the cider. It looks like my second Sierra West kit will be either the Tool or Lineside shed. I will keep the forum updated on the cider. Here are the sheets of cider on the roof. I will need to tie them down or move them to another location. we will see. RandyIMG_1136resized
  • edited July 2022
    No problem Randy, 12months is about what it takes, but that's the long, natural version, for that authentically rustic look.

    The other two methods I'll post shortly can be done in an evening for when you're doing regular building.

    But, just think about how many awesome silver cedar sheets you'd have right now if I had posted the technique last year, or the year before...
    I think we first did the test back in 2012, by now we could've had enough sheets to cover my real roof... haha

    So, go pin some sheets outside now, next year will be here before you know it and they'll be there, ready and waiting for you.

  • Randy, turn the whole thing upside down from time to time so it gets colored on both sides and the ends won't curl up since you've only 'clamped' one side to hold them. :)
  • Great idea! I'd probably forget they were up on the roof! :blush:
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