Instant patina for brass

Age bright brass hardware in hours, not years.

In searching for the hardware for the heirloom pine hutch from issue 147, we came across hinges and door catches in just the style we wanted. The only problem: The hinges are black for the rustic look we want, but the catches are available only in bright brass. If you ever find yourself in a similar pickle, the solution is only five easy steps away. You already may have everything you need to put an antique patina on brass hardware. Here’s how.

Note: This technique works only on solid-brass hardware. Thin plating may be entirely removed by this process.

STEP 1: Soak the hardware overnight in lacquer thinner to remove any protective coating, as shown in Image 1. Bend hooks onto both ends of a 2-1/2"-long piece of coat-hanger wire, and use it to fish the hardware out of the lacquer thinner. Blot the hardware dry with a clean rag.

patina brass 2

STEP 2: Dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt in 1 cup of water. Pour 1/2" of household ammonia into a 1-lb coffee can. Punch a hole in the can’s lid to accept one end of the double-ended hook. Using the hook, dip the hardware in the saltwater solution, as shown in Image 2.

patina brass 3

STEP 3: Hang the hardware on the can lid, and snap the lid onto the can, suspending the hardware inside the can as shown in Image 3. Don't let the hardware touch the ammonia.

patina brass 4

STEP 4: Heat the can with a hair dryer for 2 minutes, as shown in Image 4. Dip the hardware in salt water again, and repeat the ammonia fuming. Dip and fume until you obtain the desired patina. We got good results with six, 2-minute treatments. Note: Because the salt water flows to the bottom edge of the hanging part, the patina concentrates there. Even the patina by inverting the hardware for each fuming.

patina brass 5

STEP 5: Remove the hardware from the coffee can, rinse it thoroughly in running water, and let it dry. Wipe off any surface powder with a soft cloth. Spray on two coats of satin lacquer.

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