How to Age Metals for that Distressed, Vintage Look
These days, it’s next to impossible NOT to find dozens of DIY methods of decorating, designing, updating or changing metals like brass, copper and pewter to achieve the desired look on furniture, lamps, doorknobs, drawer pulls – and just about anything else.
Some techniques involve the use of toxic materials such as acetone; while others rely solely on natural ingredients such as vinegar, salt and lemon juice. The more natural methods may take a little longer. But, if you don’t like having things like acetone and chemical-based “agers” in the house, it might be worth the wait.
Here’s a simple method for “aging” brass, bronze and other metals naturally.
Using a very fine steel wool pad or fine sandpaper, first remove the shiny finish from the metal. Once the metal has been dulled, wash it thoroughly in hot soapy water, then rinse well and dry thoroughly.
Using a large glass bowl or container that will hold your brass pieces, use a solution of vinegar and salt (3 parts vinegar to 1 part water) and fill the glass container. Add the brass pieces and soak them for about an hour or longer (don’t worry if you have to leave in the middle of your project to do some errands – allowing the metal to soak for longer periods of time in the vinegar/salt solution will not damage it).
Preheat your oven to about 450 degrees and place the metal pieces on a cookie sheet in the heated oven for about 15 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it while it is heating. The longer you leave it in, the darker the metals will become.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the brass to cool completely. If you still want a darker look, you can repeat the soaking and heating process. Once you are happy with the color, use car polishing wax and massage it into the brass with a soft rag. Note: car wax will not give the brass a sheen, so no worries there.
You can also use acetone (nail polish) and brass ager, which you can find online or in most stores that sell home cleaning products.
Place the acetone in a glass bowl and submerge your brass pieces into it. This will remove any lacquer that may be on the brass. Once you see the lacquer begin to get sticky, remove it from the acetone and rinse the remaining lacquer off in water.
Using a clean dry cloth, apply the brass ager and allow it to dry.
Use a fine gauge steel wool and gently rub the entire surface of the brass piece. If you want a more weathered look, simply add more ager and gently wipe with the wool.
There are lots of other ways to age or weather your metal lamps, fixtures, and hardware. But, there’s only one place to find all the rigging equipment and hardware you’ll need for your business, your farm, or for your boating needs.
Henssgen Hardware has a complete line of the highest quality snap hooks, clips and other rigging hardware. We carry hardware in all types of metals and galvanized steel for all types of jobs, from hauling heavy loads to quick-release panic snaps.