Limed Oak Side Table

This is one piece brought back from my last treasure hunt I wasn't sure what to do with. It was so awesome as is, yet something was telling me to make it just that little bit extra special. Using the ancient French cérusing technique, this Henri II style side table from 19th century France will be even more irresistible...


In the 16th century, the French used a technique of filling in the grains of oak with a white paste derived from lead to help prevent vermin. When poisonous white lead was replaced by white titanium, this wood treatment known as cérused oak - or limed oak, became popular again. A cérused finish will highlight the contrast between the grain and the rest of the surface. This method can be used with any open grain wood like oak or other hardwoods such as elm or ash. For pine, a whitewash would work better for a similar effect.

The first step in this process is to remove all traces of wax. I use Liberon Wax and Polish Remover which works quite well, but elbow grease is required here too. And wire wool helps the process.

Removing Wax

The next step requires a wire brush. Some say to use a brass brush as steel can sometimes react with the wood and oxidise, but I haven't got one on me so I'll take a chance. An efficient way to open the grain of the wood is to dampen the surface with water and then brush energetically in the direction in which the fibres of the wood go.

Openig The Grain

Clean the dust that is left on the surface with a soft brush and the wood is ready to go. You can see how the grain is totally open now and this is where the wax will sit.

Ready For Ceruse

Smear on the white wax until it completely penetrates the fibre. I use Les Frères Nordins 'Cire à Céruser' but any coloured wax will work. There are some great pastel-coloured waxes out there, so you don't have to use white particularly. Check out Autentico or Liberon products for example. The aim is to create a good contrast between the wood's natural colour and the wax. Wait for a few minutes and then wipe off any excess. I use wire wool here again. I must say that it is hard work, but very much worth it. You can then finish off with a coat of natural wax.

From Top

I'm just mad about the rustic elegance this has given the cabinet.

Limed Oak Table

It has emphasised the texture, flow and the depth of the wood. A few understated and similarly rustic objects make of classic yet vibrant style. 

Faux Plant

This is a faux plant by the way. I think this one looks very realistic, but I have to say that it freaks me out slightly that it never grows... What do you think of them?


The side table is for sale in my shop now.

Limed Oak

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