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  • Julie @ Home On The Hill

Antique French Breadboards - Decor DIY

I just love those beautiful round French breadboards you see gracing the Provincial kitchens of rural France - the ones antique sellers import and ask on average $185 - $250 each for. But what if you could, with just a few hours of time, have the same look for a fraction of the cost? Well read on if this sounds good to you!

I was browsing the shelves in Big W a few weeks back and came across a large round wooden board for just $29. Very affordable, but very bland, but oh so perfect as the base for my own DIY French Breadboard makeover. Here is a link to buy one online if you are in Australia.

This is how I gave it a makeover inspired by the images of antique boards I saw online.

Step 1. I used a hand saw to cut the handle to a more traditional shape, you could use a jigsaw if you wanted but I prefer the hand saw as it gives a smoother finish I think.

I marked the shape I wanted with a pencil and sawed the side parts first, then the sides of the handle.

Step 2. Give the whole board a sand with 120 grit sand paper including the sides to remove any protective coating that may stop you staining the board. Also sand off the sharp square edges to create a rounded worn effect. Then drill a hole in the handle so you can have a hanging cord, it's a nice detail regardless of if you intend to hang the board or not.

Step 3. Cut some wood strips approximately 5 to 10mm thick and about 25mm wide to length to mimic the bracing the old boards had on them to hold them together. I found some old bits of rough sawn wood in our barn that had the perfect rustic look to them. I sanded them back enough to be smooth but not lose all their character. Cut the ends of each piece of wood to the shape of the rounded side of the board and sand it at an angle to remove the square edge.

Step 4. Pre-drill 5 evenly spaced small holes in each strip of wood and also drill a small amount into the board using the strip as a guide to allow your nails to be hammered in without splitting the wood, but leave at least a few millimetres not drilled for the nail to bite into.

Run a bead of wood glue across the board where each piece will sit, then hammer in your nails to secure the strips in place.

Step 5. Apply a coat of stain on all parts of the board, then distress it to your liking to add the impression of age. I find doing this after the first coat of stain means you don't need to worry about stain not entering the indentations and leaving unstained portions. I used Wattyl Craftsman Finish wood stain in the colour teak as it allows the wood grain to show through and is watery so easy to apply.

To distress I use a variety of tools, I stabbed away with a sharp pointed tool to mimic the small holes left by woodworm, then used a stanley knife to mimic cuts, although technically the strapped side of the board was the back, so not used so much as a cutting board, it would still have received it's fair share of scratches and bumps after 100+ years of use. I also banged it with numerous metal objects to give a variety of indents, trying not to repeat anything too often to keep it looking authentic.

Step 6. Apply more stain along the edges of the straps using a small paint brush where over time accumulated discolouration would have settled and around the edges which would not have been cleaned as thoroughly so would have been worn less. How much you distress and play with the stain to age your board is a personal preference. Letting the stain pool for a moment before wiping off the excess will give a water stained effect.

Lastly use some jute rope or string threaded through the hole in the handle for that final rustic touch.

Not a bad result for just a few hours of my time and less than $40 of supplies including the board.

When not giving your kitchen that vintage charm of rural France the board also makes a create base as a Charcuterie board for parties or as a dining table centrepiece with a vase of flowers on top.

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