How to Make Aged or Stained Model Fencing

Variety of Stained and Aged Basswood and Balsa Wood Planks

This is a continuation of the previous post on how to make Model Horse Fencing, which itself was a continuation of how to make Model Horse Display Bases. I think I’m starting a theme here! 😉

You would think with all the scale model hobbies out there that finding instructions on how to age scale wood fences would be easy… but not so much! I found plenty of articles on how to age normal wood, but when you are working with balsa wood and basswood, the pickings are pretty slim.

These are the best of the bunch:

So below are my experiments on turning the basic basswood and balsa wood planks into something a bit more weathered.

Ye Old Traditional Staining

Minwax Stain Pen meets Balsa wood and Basswood!

The first (and easiest) way to darken the planks is to grab a handy stain pen and get to work. Using a Minwax 210B Golden Oak I did the right half of the board in a single coat, then two, then three as you move to the left.

As you can see there’s a big jump up in color except between the second and third coats on the balsa wood. It’s a nice mild color, although perhaps not the most realistic one. It would be a good match for a fence that had just been stained, but most fences in the equine world don’t stay this immaculate for long.

(Note: The next time I’m in Lowe’s I’ll pick up some of the darker stain colors and update this post.)

Ye Old Acrylic Wash

Gray Acrylic Wash on Basswood and Balsa wood

The second method I tried was to go over the planks with a very diluted grey acrylic paint wash. In this case I used FolkArt 706 Dove Gray as my color and moving to the right is a single coat, a double, and then a double with a single layer of stain over it.  It’s a big change in the color of the wood when compared to the unpainted planks, but still not quite right.

Looking over the tutorial from Battleground Hobbies I saw that they started with a very dark basecoat (black!) in order to get the grains in the wood to pop. I wasn’t willing to go quite that dark, but figured it was worth a try…

Ye Old Acrylic Wash and Drybrush!

Acrylic Wash and Dry Brush Basswood and Balsa Wood Planks

I grabbed two darker wood colors to test out: FolkArt 504 VanDyke Brown and 416 Dark Brown.

The Dark Brown turned out very while the VanDkye Brown gave me the nice dark lines I was looking for. I did two attempts at each color, one with a relatively solid basecoat of the color and one where the color was done as a wash and then wiped off.

Then I went back over that (one it was dry) and used dry brushing to highlight each of them with the 706 Dove Gray and in some areas the darker 425 Medium Gray. As you can tell my dry brushing technique can use some work, but thankfully it’s a pretty fast learning curve.

I went back and did another wash of the base color in some areas to bring down the tone a bit where I’d over-dry-brushed. I think it turned out pretty darned well, although I’m still experimenting with color combinations.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Finished Aged Balsa Wood Fence

I think I’m going to stick to the acrylic washes on the balsa wood instead of the basswood for the aged effects. So far my favorite has been the light VanDyke (paint and then wipe off) with the Dove Gray dry brush.

While the basswood is a stronger material, it just doesn’t have the nice grain that the balsa does and it makes popping the color contrasted harder. I suppose I could get a little crazy and paint in the details by hand… but I don’t like prop-making quite that much yet! 😉

Now all that’s left is to make a proper fence… *heads off to gather materials*

(But I will definitely be doing the painting and staining before assembly, wood glue would make a mess of these techniques.)

EDIT: And the fence is done! Not bad for a first try, eh? 😀

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