I’ve used a lot of different methods to add age to my hardware – everything from a propane torch to ammonia to gun blue to (yes) human urine.
Whenever I discuss these methods, I get complaints. So in an effort to garner more complaints, here’s another one: Jax Chemicals. These are the formulas that metalsmiths use to add patina to their work and were recommended to me by a couple of woodworkers.
I ordered some last week (Smythe disclaimer here, blah, blah, blah) with my very own money and put them to use today to age some steel hardware for some Roorkhee chairs I’m building for the magazine.
Jax makes a variety of formulas. I ordered the “Antique Rust” for the steel parts and “Jax Brown” for brass, bronze and copper, which I’ll report on some other time. Let’s talk about the stuff for steel.
All the steel parts were coated with something – lacquer perhaps – and so I soaked the metal parts for an hour in lacquer thinner and then scrubbed them with a woven pad. (Safety note: all these solvents are nasty, especially lacquer thinner. Getting it on your skin is bad. Wear solvent-resistant gloves – the best you can afford.)
Then, as per the instructions on the container, I applied the Jax solution with a stiff-bristled brush.
I scrubbed the parts some more and then dumped the parts in the Jax solution, which I had poured into a plastic cup (as per the instructions). It looked like something was almost happening in there.
Still wearing the gloves, I fished the parts out of the Jax solution and took a bronze-bristle brush to the parts, brushing the stuff on with some prejudice. Bingo. The parts quickly turned a nasty blackish brownish color.
When I rubbed my wing nuts (no jokes, please) I actually discovered they were brass or bronze under a thin plating. I rubbed through the plating in some points, left the black in others. All in all, I liked the final look.
I then threaded the hardware onto the chairs and was much more at peace with myself. The hardware faded into the background of the piece instead of poking me in the eye with its shiny, galvanized appearance.
I like the Jax stuff, and it’s handy if you don’t like fire (scarecrow) or dousing your hardware in 20 proof hobo solution.
— Christopher Schwarz
Check out the chair this hardware is for here.