Technique: Liming

Liming dates back to 16th century Europe and though similar to pickling it’s older. Designed originally to prevent wormrot to the wood, it gives a white appearance to the wood that is unique and is great for tables, chairs or even picture frames.

Walnut Chair
Walnut Chair

The best material for a liming project, is a hardwood such as oak, elm, or walnut, because of their open grains. Pine is not a good choice for this technique.

First, use a wire brush to open the grain. You are not looking to clean the piece, but to open the grain of the wood so it more readily accepts the Liming Paste.

Next, rub the Liming Paste onto the wood using a brush or your hands. If your piece has grooves or carved pieces you can use a brush, fingertips or rag to work the Liming Paste into all the crevices.

Then wipe off the Liming Paste with rags, leaving a ghostlike, pale surface behind – how pale will depend on the type of wood you used, how good a job you did with your wire brush and the original color of the piece. If it isn’t quite how you like, go back to your wire brush and apply more Liming Paste – if too much rub off more.

Limed Table TopWhen it’s dry, use a coat of Sanding Sealer and let dry. Sand lightly and if desired, coat with a surface sealer such as Poly, Varnish or wax.

I fell in love with this technique when I did it on an oak table top and a walnut chair. I hope you like it too as it is easy and really provides a unique effect and the wood ends up feeling soft and smooth.

Paint: Liming Paste is made by mixing latex, white paint with Plaster of Paris. The consistency should be that of a paste, about the thickness of cake batter/muffin mix.

Tools: Paintbrush, white paint, wirebrush, Plaster of Paris, and rags.

Surfaces: Your piece needs to be stripped of any varnish, glaze or wax. If it has a light stain you can try the technique but the more stain removed to bare wood the piece is the better. It does not work on painted pieces.

Ability: Easy. I mastered this technique without any practice.

Oak Table with Liming Paste
Oak Table with Liming Paste