Two decades of painted wood graining

I’ve spent over 25 years painting faux woodgrain… 

…researching, practicing and applying “faux” (sounds like “go”. Silent X) wood graining using ancient and modern methods, materials and tools from masters in the US, France, the UK, Italy…

Back in the early 90’s when I started working as a decorative painter, learning how to grain was all up hill. There was virtually no information available on the subject. A few ancient books with black and white drawings, outdated color and material formulas and little else. 

1948 Dodge Dash perfectwoodgrain Faux Oak Wooodgrain

I nearly went crazy

Even the decent faux finishing books available only had short and poorly developed faux wood sections. 

Then I stumbled on to some examples of woodgrain by great European decorators that were so realistic and spectacular that they completely rocked my world. 

I started looking at faux graining in a totally different way. Specifically, that it was possible to take some brushes and paints and make something look, not sort of wood likebut EXACTLY like high-end, rare, gorgeous hard wood crafted by master wood workers! 

Problem was, there was no training available anywhere in the US to learn the advanced wood graining being practiced in France, Italy and the UK. 

But I was obsessed. I collected every book available on the subject. Some of them with gorgeous images by the European masters, but terribly translated instructions. 

I tried, with little success, to learn from these resources. My results were okay, I could paint reasonably realistic grain, but something was missing

The secret to amazing painted faux wood

Antique Swedish Tall Clock Completed Mahogany Faux Wood Paint on
Faux Cuban feather mahogany woodgrain applied to an anique Swedish tall clock case.

One day I was meeting a friend in a the old Union Train Station building in downtown Seattle. As I waited, I sat down on one of the long Antique Brown Oak benches. 

Of course I noticed the gorgeous grain in the ancient wood, worn to a fine finish by hands, legs and rumps of the train station visitors over decades 

Sitting down on this old growth oak bench led to an epiphany: I was focusing on the wrong thing! If I wanted to paint realistic faux wood, I needed to stop reading faux finishing books and start studying REAL WOOD! 

Just like an artist needs a real live model (or a high quality image) when creating a portrait, I needed to stop looking at faux wood and start looking at the real thing

So I took what little info I had and experimenting with my own ideas. 

The big take away for creating great faux wood

Observing and copying real, valuable, highly desirable hard woods is the best way to create awesome faux woodgrain paint. 

And this lead to another realization, something very interesting and powerful: You don’t have to be a master European artist to execute stunning, realistic painted wood grain.

After years of transforming ordinary kitchen cabinets to look like Black Walnut, making bland plywood look like choice cuts of Cherry Wood, doing projects for everyone from house wives to celebrities to captains of industry, my friends and clients started suggesting I create training for those who want to learn woodgrain painting.

So that’s what I’ve been up to; compiling all my hard earned knowledge into faux wood grain courses that anyone can learn from.

Please click below for more info on how you to can learn to create realistic faux wood. 

Thanks for reading. 



Would you like some help with Faux Woodgrain?

Link to woodgrain paint course sign up page

Link to woodgrain car paint course sign up page



9 Responses

    | Reply


    • Norman
      | Reply

      Hi, Jeff. Yes, I may do workshops in the future.

  2. Bruce Alexander
    | Reply

    I have been a professional woodcarver for many years, so I do know something about wood and what looks good. My hobby is restoring old” classic” cars & trucks. I would like to become proficient in faux wood graining to use in these cars of mine and maybe go on to do it for others when I feel I am good enough. The blog is already informative and interesting and I have only visited once.

    • Norman
      | Reply

      That’s awesome, Bruce. I’ve found that a lot of the collectors don’t necessarily want realistic. They want a “stock” look. You’ll be able to apply this skill to do the original, factory, simple style of wood grain, or something more elaborate and realistic.

      I look forward to working with you on your first projects.

  3. randy lantz
    | Reply

    like what i see

  4. Joe Garcia
    | Reply

    I love it i also would love to learn how to master this i have wood grain my own automobiles i have some concept of how ,but with your help i fill i could master it thanks Joe

    • Norman
      | Reply

      Hey Joe

      Great to have yet another auto restoration hobbyist on board!

      Whether you want to do totally realistic wood grain to match or repair the real wood you might find in a Packard, or something more “factory” like the painted trim in the old Dodges… Perfect Wood Grain Mastery will help you get there.

      I’ll be in touch soon with an update on the release date.

      Thanks for signing up and I look forward to working with you.


  5. mike h. morrison
    | Reply

    I am looking foward to your class, of info, and learning all that I can.
    Thank you.

  6. mike h. morrison
    | Reply

    This is a confirmation of total interest thank you.

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