Antiquing Hardware


Antiquing Hardware
– Antiquing Hardware
Antiquing Hardware
One of the more frustrating parts of the refinishing/upcycling process is creating a quality antique or rustic piece of furniture
and then not be able to find the antique or rustic hardware to go with it.
This is equally true for the thousands of folks visiting your store to buy java gel to darken their kitchen cabinets. If they can
find the hardware to match, it is often too costly. Why not reuse the hardware and make it work for the updated cabinets.
The typical kitchen has between 20 and 40 knobs and pulls. At $8-$10 apiece, the cost quickly adds up. Why not try to age/
patina your current hardware before buying new?
Below you will find a couple of ways to patina or age knobs and pulls, options for darkening or painting hardware and a few
ways to just clean your hardware. Although there are several ways to accomplish these tasks, here are few approaches that
should demonstrate well.
Antiquing Hardware
How To Make Rustic Brass Cabinet Knobs And Pulls
As brass hardware ages, its surface oxidizes, which leaves a layer of tarnish over the hardware. Over time, an additional
protective layer, called a patina, forms over the untreated tarnished brass. Brand new brass hardware, such as drawer pulls,
door handles or towel bars, stays shiny and bright for decades because its surface is covered by a protective coat, usually a
lacquer. To “age” brass hardware in a reasonable amount of time, you’ll first need to remove this protective coating and then
ammonia fume the exposed brass.
Wash brass knobs and handles in warm soapy water.
Rinse brass fixtures with cool water. Dry with a clean lint-free cloth.
Remove lacquer finish from the brass. Either soak it in lacquer remover, or paint a coat of acetone nail polish
remover on the brass and let it sit overnight. Do this in a well-ventilated area.
Rinse the brass hardware under cool water to remove the acetone nail polish remover or lacquer remover. Dry
the hardware completely with a lint-free cloth.
Oxidize your brass by painting on a mixture of vinegar and saltwater. To do this, paint a generous coat of vinegar
on the hardware. Let it sit. Mix 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of saltwater. Paint the saltwater mixture over the coat of vinegar.
Soak an old rag in ammonia. Use the ammonia outside, or in a well-ventilated room, while wearing protective
gloves and goggles.
Place your hardware in one end of a clean, coffee can. Place the ammonia soaked rag in the other end of the
plastic container. The two items should not be touching. Hang the hardware from the lid of the coffee can.
Antiquing Hardware
How To Make Rustic Brass Cabinet Knobs And Pulls (Continued)
Close the lid of the container. The vapors from the ammonia that collect in the sealed container will tarnish the
brass hardware. The time can vary on this process, depending on the hardware and your aesthetic preferences. Check the
hardware frequently, and remove it when you achieve the desired patina.
Once the hardware dries, wipe on a coat of paste wax or use spray lacquer to protect the hardware.
How To Darken Brass Hardware
Supplies will need to be ordered in advance.
Remove the hardware and set aside any screws.
Put on the latex gloves. Do not try this without gloves. Mix dish soap and warm water in one pan. Scrub the hardware with the soapy water and a toothbrush. Rinse the hardware under warm water, and then set it on paper towels to dry. Allow it to dry fully before moving to the next step.
Mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda in warm water in one of the pans, stirring to dissolve. Set it aside.
Mix a pea-sized lump of liver of sulfur in 1 quart of hot water in one of the pans. Stir until the liver
of sulfur is dissolved.
Tips: Liver of sulfur is available online. The gel version is recommended due to its extended shelf life
and fewer issues with dust.
Dip the hardware in the liver of sulfur solution with tongs. Agitate the hardware in the solution continually
until you get the desired color you want.
Antiquing Hardware
How To Darken Brass Hardware (Continued)
Dip the hardware immediately in the baking soda solution to stop the darkening process. Set the hardware
on paper towels to dry.
Polish the darkened hardware with the polishing cloth if desired.
Painting Hardware
Soak the cabinet pulls in a bucket of warm water mixed with a mild dish detergent. Let the pulls soak for 5 to 10
minutes before using a toothbrush to gently scrub each pull, making sure all grease and grit are removed. Rinse
each piece, and dry thoroughly with a clean cloth.
Rub steel wool on the surface of each pull to remove any leftover grime. Sanding with steel wool will also rough
up the smooth texture so it will accept the paint better. Wipe each pull with a damp cotton cloth to remove any
sanding dust, paying careful attention to any cracks or crevices.
Poke finishing nails or roofing nails into an old piece of cardboard, placing them far enough apart so the pulls
won’t touch each other once they are inserted on top. Place the pulls over the nails, and move the cardboard to a
well-ventilated area.
Spray an even coat of metal primer on the hardware. Look closely for any drips, and remove hardware with your
finger while still wet. Allow the primer to dry completely.
Spray the paint on the cabinet pulls using smooth, even strokes. Allow the paint to fully dry, approximately one
hour, before applying a second coat for more durability. Let the pulls dry thoroughly before reattaching to the
When you spend hours upon hours building a beautiful piece of furniture or a stylish tool cabinet, you don’t want
to overlook certain details like hardware. Hardware elements are sometimes just as important as wood selection.
The problem is when building a timeless piece, brand-new shiny hardware will stick out like a sore thumb. Give
your furniture the right look with a simple technique that can transform regular hinges into century-old antiques.
If you liked doing science experiments in school, you’re going to love this quick method of turning regular home
center hinges into antiqued treasures. The process is simple. Start with brass hinges that are coated in another
metal like zinc. First, strip the metal coating with muriatic acid in an outdoor and well-ventilated area. Once the
coating has been eaten away, remove the hinges and then wash and dry immediately to prevent rusting. Now to
turn them into that dark antiqued look you’ll need some gun bluing. Simply poor the gun bluing over the hinges,
and wait until they turn black. To finish them, give them a rubdown with some steel wool, and then seal them
with a little WD-40.
How To Clean Old Hardware
Determining The Type Of Metal
First, determine the type of metal on or in your tools. Place a magnet close to the antique hardware. If the magnet is
attracted, you have brass-plated steel hardware.
If the magnet is not attracted, you need to perform a scratch test.
Scratch the hardware in a hidden spot. If the metal underneath is silver, you have brass-plated pot metal. However, if what
you see after scratching the surface is yellow or brass-colored, the hardware is solid brass.
Proceed to clean your hardware accordingly.
Brass Plated Metal
Mix 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of vinegar and enough baking soda to make a paste.
Wet a soft cloth with the mixture and scrub your hardware. If you want to keep some of the darker, antique color, scrub
the hardware accordingly. If you want to remove all of the darkness and make it look new, use a toothbrush to get into the
hard-to-reach areas.
Rinse well with warm water, and dry with a soft towel.
Solid Brass
Pour a small amount of vinegar onto the hardware. Let it sit for no longer than a minute or two.
Scrub the brass hardware using steel wool. Continue until you are satisfied with the results.
Rinse well with warm water to remove the dirt and vinegar. Be sure to remove all of the vinegar, because leaving it on the
brass for too long can cause discoloration. Dry with a soft towel.
Read more:
Before executing advice to “simply” replace cabinet hardware to update your kitchen, consider your current hardware. Unless it is hopelessly out of date, your old hardware may be better quality than new fixtures and, at current prices, replacing
dozens of handles, pulls, and hinges can be expensive. Burnish old hardware using generic ingredients rather than expensive branded cleaners to brighten your kitchen.
Even when you’re not refinishing cabinet doors and drawer faces, remove hardware from drawers and cabinets to clean it.
Hinges may have been painted over and food and cleaning products may have worked under escutcheons, roses and bases
of handles. Try cleaning off traces of paint with nail polish remover when the pieces aren’t coated – if they are, the acetone
may eat away the lacquer, so use a little fine steel wool or, if the metal is highly polished, a microfiber cloth to buff it off.
Soak pieces in a plastic basin. When they need scrubbing, use an old toothbrush to gently dislodge goop.
When a piece is merely tarnished, you can usually redeem it. Metal polishes use ammonia and silica sand to treat tarnish.
Dip a soft rag first in hot vinegar, then in Kosher or sea salt, and rub tarnish off uncoated brass fittings. Mix a paste of equal
parts white vinegar, salt and flour to clean tarnish on brass or copper. Michigan State University Extension suggests using
linseed oil and powdered calcium carbonate, known as whiting, to rub tarnish off.
Use an auto detailer’s trick to lift bits of rust from chrome; wet a square of aluminum foil and rub the surface gently. Aluminum is softer than chrome so it will combine with the oxygen to form a slimy layer of iron oxide – rust. Wipe it off with
a soft rag, and you’ll find a gleaming layer of clean chrome. Other remedies include acetic acid or oxalic acid from vinegar,
lemon juice or potato. Add salt to vinegar or lemon juice and soak pieces; sprinkle a cut potato with salt or baking soda to
scrub rust away. Rottenstone, used in furniture polishes, scrubs but may dull shiny finishes. Even molasses and cola contain acids that will dissolve rust. Experiment on an inconspicuous spot before soaking copper alloys, including brass; some
acids will dissolve the zinc used in them. Dry and polish clean metal immediately with linseed or lemon oil.
Dishwasher Science
Dishwasher detergent may scrub dull old ceramic knobs laid on the top shelf in a clean net bag, but may pit metal
hardware; try washing soda for hardware. Lay hardware in the top rack in net bags and run a cycle with a quart of white
vinegar or old box of baking soda, and brighten your hardware as you clean or freshen your dishwasher.
Buying Guide
Safety Glasses
6 Mil Nitrile Gloves
152809, 152808, 152807
Watco Spray Lacquer
Wire Brush
Earlex Heat Gun
Star Wipers Washed
Jersey Knit Rags
150925, 150924, 152652
Klean Strip Acetone
85O51 Quart
Klean Strip
Lacquer Thinner
85O53, 154367 Quart
Steel Wool
Household Items:
Ground Coffee
Baking Soda
Lemon Juice
Distilled White Vinegar
Dishwashing Liquid