We all take pride in our beautifully finished ship and / or boat models. With pristine looking planking and smooth finished decks. However, what if you would like to give the model an appearance of being out at sea for a few years. In other words, weathered. What are some good methods to achieve a natural weathered look?
Well, you could leave it out in the back yard for a few weeks, but hardly practicable.
Below are some methods I have tried over the years with some success. As always, make up a testing board first before applying. In addition, various woods will “take” the weathering process differently. What might look good on basswood may not look the same on mahogany. Be sure to try these various methods on three or four of the wood types you will be using, and keep a record of your final formulas.
A simple method is to rub the wood (un-finished) with steel wool soaked with plain while vinegar. You may have to try several applications to get the desired affect. Once it is dry, it looks great and aged. The smell will dissipate very quickly.
India ink, thinned with water, is a good all around weathering agent. It is especially good for simulated weather beaten unpainted wood. Mix about 2 drops of ink in 1 cup of water.
Colored chalk makes a very good weathering agent. Grind up the chalk into powder and apply to the wood surfaces with a soft brush and work into the material with vertical strokes. To apply darker streaks use a Q-tip to apply the chalk. If you do not like your results, just clean the surface with a damp sponge and start over. If you are going to preserve your weathering with a matte finish coat, be aware that you will lose some of the effect, so over apply the chalk. You can always add more weathering after you have applied the finished matte coat the model if you do not like the effect.
There are many Commercial products that will weather wood, plastics, and plasters on the market. Most are very good and will give you excellent results. "Weather It", which makes scale lumber look old and very weathered. Treat all the wood that you are going to use before construction because "Weather It" will break down wood glue and your project will fall apart. On the other hand, if you have some wood glued together and you need to get it apart with splinting or damaging it, this is an excellent product to dissolve the glue if you do not mind the color change in the wood afterwards.
See this link for some examples of some commercial products: Weathering Supplies
Weathering with paint is easy to do and gives excellent results. Start with darker colors and add lighter colors on top. Remember, weathering is a matter of degree. The disadvantage of weathering with paint is that it is pretty permanent when you are done.
Why not? Try mixing a little sea salt in warm water and then mix with the vinegar or India ink method above. Or, just try the salt-water mix by itself.
In closing, experiment with the different methods and see what works best. Be aware that you are using chemicals. Be sure to use common sense and take necessary precautions: Gloves, mask, a fan blowing air across the work area, etc.