I’ve Been Aging!

Yup! And I’m really pleased about it, too!!!

Now before you go rushing to call the guys with the white coats, let me explain…

For very obvious reasons, I’ve not been able to work a bit this year on the remodeling projects that have become such a normal part of my life that it won’t seem right once they are actually finished. In fact, I’m relatively sure I’ve not touched them since a year ago September. Things have just been that crazy! However, we continue to have warm, dry weather this autumn, with days that are really too hot for my taste, but bearable with the cool nights. They have been enticing me to do as much of the neglected summer projects as I can manage, and today I attacked one that I’ve been putting off for a very long time, simply because I was terrified of it. The thing is, though, I have a friend coming over once a week or so, and she’s helping me with some of the de-cluttering that I need to do. Our current project made it very obvious that I need to get back to working on the nook, and one of the next steps there involves painting the DVD cubby and drawers. Drawers can’t be put in the cubby without handles, and that brings me to my project de jour.

The nook project requires quite a variety of hardware – various knobs and handles and hinges and such, and I was about to tear my hair out trying to find all the assorted items in complementary styles and the same finish. I was doing pretty well with one exception… the pulls for the DVD drawers. I wanted the style that looks like the one on the old library card catalog drawers, and hours of searching didn’t turn up good quality, solid brass with an antiqued brass finish anywhere a few years ago when I was looking. It also had not escaped my notice that antiqued brass finish was substantially more expensive than shiny new brass. Of course, all the stuff I wanted was actually available shiny. Shiny finishes make me nervous, though. They seem to demand a level of attention that goes far beyond my interest to provide. Every smudge or water droplet is the enemy, and mars in the finish just glare. I can’t happily live with shiny! One day I was sharing this frustration with yet another representative of yet another hardware company, and his immediate response was, “Why don’t you just antique them yourself?” I had a knee-jerk reaction to that, and it was rather negative. That is NOT the sort of thing that sounded like something I could or would want to do, but he persevered with his advice, telling me it was really easy, then adding that his company actually buys everything in shiny brass and the employees antique them in house when more are needed. Then he topped it off by giving me their “secret” method. In a moment of weakness, I caved in and bought the aging solution and two dozen brass handles. When it got here, I KNEW I’d been temporarily insane, and I packed it all in the hardware box and tried not to think about it for the last two years.

Now I have no choice. These handles HAVE to be done, and the continued good weather even killed the only excuse I could come up with. It took a while to find a small plastic container, but that was the hardest part of the project in the end. 🙂 It really was as simple as he said it was! All I did was toss the handles into the container and pour the Brass Ager over them. They were jumbled together and it worked just fine, by the way. I left them for about 10 minutes, then donned gloves, curious to see what I had.

Wow! Black! Next step was to scrub off as much of that black as I could, using 0000 steel wool, then toss them back in for another 10 minutes. Of course, they were just as black the second time, if not even better. If I’d wanted the blackened brass look, I could have stopped right there, rinsed them, and left them to dry, but I wanted antiqued brass, so I steel wooled them a second time. I didn’t really want any black on mine, so I worked them over pretty good, but this is purely a personal taste sort of thing. The cool thing is that if you take off more than you want, you can toss them back into the aging solution and try again! When I brought them into the house, the different lighting showed some spots I wanted to work on more, but now I’m pleased as can be with my handles!

I didn’t want to drop the screw down into the aging solution. The thought of trying to steel wool 2 dozen of them made my skin crawl! Instead, I held them loosely in my gloved hand and dunked them, then left them sitting on a protected spot on my workspace for a bit. I ended up dunking them twice more before they were about right, then I rinsed them.

Here’s the before and after comparison. I only did half today, since I’m still limited on how much time I can stand in one spot.

Tomorrow I need to go pick up some clear lacquer spray, since I want to arrest the patina where it is right now. If I wanted them to continue to age naturally at this point, I could just leave them alone, but that’s not a good option for me with the rest of the hardware having been done elsewhere and finished. All in all, I invested less than 90 minutes on this, and the expense was negligible. The only remaining problem is that the thumb went out of my glove, and I’m sporting a dandy patina of my own now!

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Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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