Chippy White Spindles in Minutes

This is quite possibly the easiest technique to create a worn and chippy look with paint! Whether your item is vintage or new, follow the steps below to achieve perfect authentic-looking chippiness!
spindles cut from an old chair
Updated 7/2022

Affiliate links may be included for your convenience; my full disclosure policy can be found here. If you click through and make a purchase I'll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Serendipity. That's what this chippy spindle project is! 

Let me start at the beginning, always the very best place to start (channeling my inner Maria!) Last year we found a small round dining table for our kitchen nook. It came with 4 cane seat chairs, for the unbeatable price of $75! Two of the chairs had busted seats, but I cut them up because they had gorgeous spindles that I wanted to save for future was easy to chop them off the chair using my Dremel Saw Max!

I stuck all the spindle pieces into an olive bucket and sat it beside our door...hoping to get to them someday. I knew all along that I wanted to create a chippy painted look with them, but I held off because it just seemed like it would be a ton of work but mainly because I wasn't really sure how to get a nice, authentic chippy feel using paint.

Old and moldy spindles

A couple weeks ago as we were cleaning off the porches, I pulled all the spindles out of the olive bucket...and screamed in horror! I thought I saw a snake, but it was a skink that slithered out of the grimy depths of the bucket and took off for a safer spot! Unbeknownst to me, the spindles had been sitting in a couple inches of rain water for several weeks, and the ends had turned black and moldy. I fully intended to just toss them in the trash that day. Don't the moldy leaves add a nice effect? Ew!

moldy ends

I'm not even sure what made me Google "chippy paint techniques", but it brought me to this gem of a tutorial and the rest is history, as they say! My spindles were saved to live another day, and it was so much easier than I thought it would be! I followed most of the steps that Debbie used, with the exception of the stain...I skipped that. But I'm going to share my own version here for you, with pictures, so you can see how easy this chippy paint technique is!

And while I'm at it, I'll share some creative ways to use chippy spindles in home decor, so make sure to read all the way to the end!


  • sandpaper or a palm sander (I love mine)
  • white candle
  • chalk paint in color(s) of choice (I used DecoArt Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint in Everlasting)
  • paint brush (I threw away all my chip brushes because I'm tired of picking up fallen bristles; this brush never disappoints!)
  • razor blade or paint scraper
  • rag or paper bag
  • chop saw (optional)
  • spray polycrylic (optional)

The easiest way to get a chippy painted look

Remember I said that the ends of the spindles had turned black? I really didn't want to paint over that mold or mildew or whatever nasty it was so I had Mr DIY set up the chop saw for me, and I cut all those gross ends right off (you can see them all below). Then I used my palm sander to smooth the cut ends of the spindles.

chop off ends and sand smooth

My spindles were already looking a little chippy because of the stain; I liked the aged looking wood tones. This is where I veered from the original tutorial; I didn't stain my pieces. 

Designer tip: If you're starting with something that is raw wood or very new looking, you'll probably want to give them a coat of stain because that is what will show through the chippy paint that we're going to create.

Wax your spindles

Take a piece of candle wax and rub it all over the pieces. You may have heard of using wax to resist paint. I've read of doing this for distressing, but I had never heard of using it to create a chippy look. It's very easy, and works really well! Rub the wax well all over your piece, and then rub the candle wax into the wood with your hands. There will be little bits of candle wax left behind and that is totally ok! By the way, this went must faster than I thought it would; I had all my spindles waxed in about 10 minutes!

rub spindles with wax

This one small votive was enough to wax all my spindles. You can see how little I had left.

rub spindles with white wax

Paint the spindles

Painting them is the next step to that amazing chippiness. I lined all my spindles up on a piece of cardboard to paint them. That way I was able to paint all the tops at one time, and then rotated the spindles to paint the rest.

line spindles up to paint

I was hoping that one coat of paint would be enough, but in the end I decided to paint two coats. And honestly, the more paint you have, the better this technique will work! In fact, if you want to get a really multi-colored chippy look (say aqua under white) then just add another layer of wax between each coat of different colored paint.

Just a note with the painting: we're not after a perfect painted finish! Fingerprints, rough spots, thin spots, they are all okay and will add to the authentic age that we are going to create when we start chipping! So just get em painted, don't worry about how it looks!

paint spindles

Everything looks better white, in my opinion! But wait, because the next step is where the magic happens!

Shave the spindles

Let your paint dry, and then using a razor or paint scraper, just start dragging it over the paint, wherever you want a chippy look. You can go heavy hand, or a lighter's up to you depending on how chippy you want your spindles to look!

scrape paint off

The wax resists the paint, which means you could probably just use your fingernail to scrape paint off (I didn't think to try that!) 

Scrape the paint in multiple directions to get the most authentic look! 

Rub spindles

Once you've scraped your spindles and are satisfied with how chippy they look, rub the spindles with a brown paper lunch bag just to smooth the edges and clean all the loose wax from the spindles.

rub with brown paper bag

It does give the spindles a bit of a mellower look (see below) so it's a totally optional step. See how there's less contrast with the stain underneath the white paint after I rubbed the spindle with a brown paper bag.


That's it! Wasn't that quick and easy? If you want to protect your pieces from further chipping, you can certainly give them a spray of polycrylic. I didn't because I wouldn't mind if my spindles continued to chip.

In about an hour, I went from gross, headed-to-the-trash spindles to gorgeous, chippy white spindles!

pile of chippy white spindles

But now what? Keep reading to find out how to use those chippy spindles in your home decor!

How to use chippy spindles in home decor

I am currently on the hunt for another old chair or crib to chop up because I've used up all my chippy spindles!

Here is what I made:

Other ideas for using chippy spindles

  1. pile them in a farmhouse basket
  2. cut off the ends and use them as feet on a DIY chippy beaded tray
  3. cut them into chunks, drill a hole and insert a taper candle
  4. make chippy chunky wood beads by chopping the spindles into chunks and drilling a hole through the centers; string onto jute cord
  5. make farmhouse glam ornaments by attaching crystals from a vintage chandelier to the bottoms
  6. make a small plant stand by using chippy spindles as the table legs
You get the idea - there are SO many ways to use chippy spindles in your home, the sky is the limit! I'd love to know how you've used chippy spindles in your decor, leave me a comment below!

Pin it to remember

As always, I'm honored and delighted when you share my projects with your friends!

chippy white spindles before and after
See you back here soon!

bringing beauty to the ordinary,


share this post


  1. I love the way these came out! The distressing is awesome! My only question is what are you going to do with all of those?

    1. Thank you so much! I turned some into farmhouse candleholders
      and hung some on my French farmhouse Christmas tree The others I have in a bucket.

  2. This is exactly the post I was hoping to find!! I need to revamp my spindles and your tutorial is just perfect!! Wish me luck!

    1. So glad it was helpful! Let me know how they turn out!


Post a Comment

Your comments are like sunshine and chocolate! Thanks for taking the time to leave a nice one ;) I read all comments and love to respond if you leave your name and email! Otherwise, please look for my response under the post where you left it!