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How to Finish Wood Found in the Forest

Philip Powe

Adding rustic detail to a room can be as simple as taking a walk through the woods. All you need to do is find a nice felled tree or a piece of old wood and take it home. Clean it up with a hose to eliminate any bugs, and you can then preserve it to halt the normal decay process.

Turn a found piece of wood into a treasure.
  1. Spray the piece of wood with water. Add two teaspoons of detergent to a gallon of water. Scrub the entire length of the piece of wood with the brush. Rinse the detergent off. Allow the wood to dry.

  2. Examine the wood. This is important. You want to make sure that the wood is not green and that the sap has dried out. If the wood is green, set it out in the sun to dry it out completely. The drying time will depend on the type of wood, how long it has been on the ground and when it was cut. The drying varies between pieces. Once the sap has stopped running, the piece is dry.

  3. Determine exactly what you are going to do with your wood. You can use large sections and have them cut into boards, but small decorative pieces can be stained or sealed to enhance their beauty.

  4. Stain the piece of wood using the paintbrush. If it is smooth try to follow the grain of the wood. If it has bark on it you will have to dab the wood to force the stain into the bark. This will help preserve the wood. Another method is to place the piece of wood over the pan and pour the stain over it. You can reuse the stain by pouring it through the coffee filter. Allow the stain to dry.

  5. Apply a coat of polyurethane varnish once the stain has dried, if you like. Apply the varnish with a paintbrush and let it dry.

  6. Tip

    You can stain any dried wood. If you find a large log you can cut a 3-inch section off it and stain the inside rings. Use your imagination when you locate a piece of wood.


    Make sure there is no life inside the log. This is a way to bring bugs or other critters into your home. Make sure it is clean.