Any time you get a torch out in the wood shop eyebrows raise and the fun-o-meter strikes new highs, but safety should be the first thought. With that in mind, here is a quick video on how I age ordinary hinges picked up from my local hardware store. These would be hinges (and other hardware) for “country” pieces such as painted cupboards, or projects where you are looking for a simple, less-expensive hardware option.
By the way, the Birchwood Casey Perma-blue is a great way to age brass, too. I’ve taken semi-bright brass hardware, dipped it in the perma-blue then buffed the piece with #0000 steel wool to create highlights – the results are a great look and are individual to your hardware.
Some you that dabble in both woodworking and gun collecting and refurbishing have additional chemicals that create different results. Please leave a comment and let us know other options.
If you need inspiration and plans for Country furniture projects where you could use blackened hardware, pick up a copy of “Early American Country Furniture: 22 Woodworking Projects Inspired by 18th and 19th-Century New England” by Denis Hambucken.
Think making your own hardware might be exciting? Here’s a book – “The Blacksmith’s Craft: A Primer of Tools & Methods” – to help you get started.
Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.
Kelly – the need for heat is to clean any coatings such as lacquer off the metal. If there’s no coating on your metal – brass or steel – then you an dip right into and get results from the bluing.
Do you need to use heat on brass hardware or just dip it into the blueing?
What could be more fun than Fire and Chemicals?!
Seriously though, the plating on many hardware items are either zinc or cadmium. You don’t want to get in the habit of breathing vapors of either one (or vaporized lacquer for that matter). Even very very small amounts of Cadmium in particular are really really bad news in your blood. It causes drain bamage along with other bad dysfunctions like in the reproductive system (are there any good dysfunctions there?). So, when you heat up your hinge or whatever do your brain and loins a favor and do it outside.
Also keep in mind that, inside or out, you are releasing (albeit small amounts) some fairly toxic chemicals into your environment. One or two hinges not too big a deal but maybe try to find unplated (bright) hardware if you need/use a lot of antiqued stuff.
Another old blacksmith method is taking the hot item (black hot as opposed to red hot) and plunging it into linseed oil. Works great and may even impart some corrosion resistance which cold blueing and other such processes do not. That followed by a coat of hard wax IS the original finish on lots of antique hardware.
Glen – A couple of other chemical alternatives for inducing oxidation and/or coloring of brass:
ammonia fuming and/or immersion in cleaning ammonia solutions
Coloration with calcium sulfide – calcium sulfide solution can be obtained as "lime sulfur" from a garden center. This is one of the more "authentic" chemical colorations for brass, as part of the patina of old brass is copper sulfate from long-term exposure to sulfides/sulfates in air.
Vinegar is a chemical (aqueous solution of acetic acid). 😉
A simple but less fun way that I age (oxidize) brass is with vinegar (great if you like non-chemical approaches). This is a common method but I have found that the fumes are the key. In a "tank" (some kind of sealable plastic container), take a small cup or bowl and pour in white vinegar and set it inside. I toss a small rage into the vinegar to help increase the surface area and get the vinegar airborne (not sure if this is really needed). Place clean, raw brass in the tank (not in the vinegar) and seal it. Typically I do this in the evening and by morning I have warm, "old" brass parts. Rinse with water, buff or polish and repeat as many times as you like to get the look you’re going for. I usually get the results I want the first night. And yes, you should experiment.
You might want to mention that this kind of thing always involves some trial and error, because the results can be sensitive to the precise alloy composition of the material. It’s not uncommon to get great results one time and horrible results the next, just because the vendor changed manufacturers.
Dan, a coat of wax is all that I use. The wax adds intensity to the black. As you might guess, I fit the hardware just after the build has wrapped up then age the pieces as shown. I install the hardware after the project is completely finished.
I once got 3rd degree burns from a piece that someone had used a blow torch on and didn’t quarantine. Thanks for this video.
I was wondering, you you apply any kind of finish to the hardware before you put it on your project?