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Distressing is a technique employed by cabinet designers to give each of their pieces more personality. Traditionally, Distressing is used to give pieces a worn and rugged look, a look that lends itself to the rustic style of cabinetry design. However, it can be applied to any style of cabinetry desired. Distressing involves using tools to roughen a piece’s surface to give a unique look to a design and make certain finishes pop. Cutting Edge offers all the below types of distressing on both doors and trim but some are not available for “slab” style doors.

Wire Brushed - $$

Wire Brushing is a technique where many wires are rubbed against the surface of a board to further accent and wear the natural grain. This can either be done by hand or by a specialized machine. It is most prominent on harder woods such as oak because of its resistance to wear and accentuated grain pattern. This type of distressing is also adjustable to match many looks from rustic to mountain modern.

Wirebrush on a Slab Style Door

Medium Wirebrush with Rift-Cut Grain

Heavy Wirebrushed Panel

Circle Sawn - $$$

Circle Sawing is the process of running a piece through a specialized machine which cuts the surface in a circular motion. This look replicates the rough cut of bare wood which can be contrasted with smoothly finished segments or other circle sawn pieces to retain the “recovered” rustic look. This look can also be adjusted to match any look from heavy saw marks to light etchings.

Medium Circle-Sawn

Heavy Circle-Sawn Panel

Worm Holes - $

Worm Holes are small holes in the wood imitating the effect of worms eating through the surface of the wood. They range from many small Worm Holes to singular slightly larger Worm Holes and are a great way to add texture and a rustic look to any door type or trim. Worm Holes come in three categories:


Regular Worm Holes are characterized by a medium sized cluster of holes that have some space between each cluster.


Single Worm Holes are characterized by slightly larger single holes that dot the surface of a piece and are each a fair distance from one another.


Small Worm Holes are characterized by small holes in a cluster that are spaced apart from other clusters.

Regular Worm Holes

Single Worm Holes

Small Worm Holes

Clavos - $

Clavos are metal nail-like inserts that are typically inserted near the joints of a door. They can give the impression of a classic carpentry piece and are most popular in aiding in the rustic look of a door, although they can be applied to nearly any style of door.

Inner Door Clavos

Door Construction Clavos

All Joints Broke

Random Joints Broke

Joint Broke - $

Joint Broke is a type of distressing that replicates the process of joints separating from each other due to contraction of wood as it dries. It is a wonderful way to add a unique shape to your doors and emphasize their construction style. Joint Broke distressing can be applied to all joints, or random joints.

Lines - $

Lines are distressing marks that follow the grain of the wood. They imitate the natural wear of wood and can give a weathered look like cracks from the expansion and contraction of the wood.


Rounded Corners - $

Rounded Corners is a process of sanding down sharp edges and corners. This sanding adds a worn effect that softens the sharpness of pieces and is often paired with burn through to allow the original wood color to pop through darker or heavy finishes. This form of distress can be localized to specific parts of a piece too, such as: the molding, panel, door, or any combination of the three.

Rounded Corners

Rounded Corners with a Glaze and Various Distressings

Rounded Corners with Burn Through, Lines, and Joint Broke

Rounded Corners with Rub Through and Joint Broke

Scalloped Edges

Scalloped Edges - $

Scalloped Edges are a type of wear distress that are used to flatten down certain parts of a piece. It emulates the natural process of wear in key locations where a normal piece would see the most use. This distress is almost exclusively paired with Rounded Edges.

Burn Through or Rub Through - $$

Burn through, also called Rub Through, is a finishing technique where edges and particularly corners are worn down to reveal an underlying finish. It can give a natural gradient to a Door or accent a heavy finish with the natural grain and color of the wood. This distressing is usually used on edges and corners but can be applied across the piece.

Burn Through

Rub Through

Rasp Distressing - $

Rasp Lines

Rasp Lines are edge marks that are more intense than normal rounding. Rasp Lines are localized and leave off-angle tooth marks that add personality and character to a door’s profile.

Rasp Dents

Rasp Dents are singular triangular impressions left on a door usually scattered across the entire surface of the door. They are used to give doors a handmade look and are a more organized type of gouge.

Rasp Marks

Rasp Marks are the result of impacting the board with the face of the Rasp. This leaves a pattern of small, organized gouges in small clusters which typically dot the piece.

Rasp Lines

Rasp Dents

Rasp Marks

Rock - $

Rock distressing is a style of gouging which impacts the board in a nonuniform fashion. Rock distressing most closely emulates the true wear and tear of wood and is most often paired with other forms of distress to complement other board textures.

Dremmel - $

Dremmel distress is used to create the boring that a large beetle might have done in wood. It is a pair of large, teardrop shaped, surface holes linked by a tunnel through the piece. This type of distressing is the largest Worm Hole style of natural distress and typically dots an entire piece.


Chisel - $

Chiseling is the process of gouging a piece mainly in corners or edges to cause tear out. When wood is torn out it leaves a jagged pattern associated with the grain which gives a dynamic look to finishes that accent corners. It also gives a singularly unique profile and personality to a piece.


Crackle - $$$

Crackle is a distressing which is applied to the finish of a door and causes the paint to look as if it were chipping away. This distressing is most typically seen on painted finishes and offers a rustic alternative to traditional painted looks.


Hand Planed Distressing - $$$$

Hand Scraped

Hand Scraped distressing has somewhat narrow long streaks of removed wood in the direction of its grain giving a wave like texture to the wood. This form of distress completely transforms the feel and profile of the wood appealing to a handmade style of carpentry.

Hand Hewn

Similar to Hand Scraped, Hand Hewn gives pieces a handmade feel by leaving wide circular carve-outs in the surface of the wood. This look is more subtle than Hand Scraped distressing but maintains a similarly rustic look.

Hand Scraped

Hand Hewn

Chatter - $

Chatter marks are typically a result of the Moulder being improperly calibrated or heavily warped wood being sent through the Moulder. Typically, these marks are sanded out but they can be intentionally left on the piece for a rustic look. These chatter marks tear out the board and leave deep jagged valleys in the wood.



Explore a veriety of these distressings on multiple looks with our Doors page.