How to Wood Grain With a Wood Graining Tool

Wood graining is a faux painting technique that can make a painted surface look like wood without the stripping, or that allows the artist to create "wood" in unexpected colors or give non-wood surfaces the look of wood grain. The wood graining "rocker"

Replicate the striated wood grain pattern with paint.

tool is a large, curved stamp with a raised wood grain pattern and a handle. Created to speed up the process of wood graining, they are probably the most common tool used by DIYers for producing a wood effect on surfaces from doors to kitchen cabinets.

  1. Apply a base coat of tinted primer in a buff, or light tan, color with a paintbrush. Allow the primer to dry.

  2. Drag on a layer of caramel brown glaze with a dry brush to create the first layer of graining. While the glaze is still wet, lightly pat all along the glaze with the flat edge of the brush in a process called "flogging."

  3. Let the background graining dry thoroughly. Apply another layer of glaze to the substrate, dragging it down the surface with a dry brush.

  4. Line up the top edge of the wood graining tool with the top left edge of your surface and pull it down the wet glaze slowly in a straight line, simultaneously rocking the tool up and down. When you get to the bottom of the board, start again at the top, moving the tool to the right and repeating the process until you have covered the entire board with the wood grain pattern.

  5. Allow the primary glaze to dry, then apply an appropriate clear coat finish.


A buff base coat with a caramel brown glaze results in a medium oak look. If you are matching your graining to a piece of stained woodwork, you will match your base coat to the lightest color in the piece of wood you are matching and your glaze should match up to the darkest color in the piece of wood you are matching. Brushes with longer bristle lengths work better that shorter bristle length brushes. Practice on an extra board a few times before tackling a real project