Do It Yourself Tips: How to Make the New Look Old
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Do It Yourself Tips: How to Make the New Look Old

You can make new hardware look like antique hardware in a matter of minutes using a diluted solution of muriatic acid and a torch.

My wife is the Queen of Garage Sales, Flea Markets, and used furniture store. She has a way of finding some real fines but those real fines are always in need of some loving attention on my part before they are ready to take their rightful place in our home. Anyone who has ever tried to repair an old piece of furniture with new materials knows how much a challenge it can be to repair it while keeping it looking old and antique. Knowing my wife's proclivity to bringing home these treasures, I never throw anything away, especially not old hardware that in usable condition. Still, I seldom have the hardware that I need. As a rule, I can find new hardware that looks like the old hardware in design but it still looks new and sticks out like sore thumb. This was a real problem for me until one day while flipping through an old chemistry book I discovered a way to make the new look old. I was excited by my find and couldn't wait to try it on my wife's next find. I didn't have long to wait because she brought home an ancient Singer Console Sewing Machine the following week. The hinges on the cabinet door were beyond repair.

The hinges looked just like some zinc-plated butt hinges that I had so I decided to make those bright, shiny new hinges look old. Here's how I did and how you can do it yourself.

You'll need the following supplies:

  • Muriatic (Hydrochloric) acid
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Glass or plastic jar
  • Glass or plastic stirring rod
  • Glass or plastic tray
  • Plastic tongs
  • Channel lock pliers
  • Torch
  • Clear coat finish

Here's how to do it yourself

  1. Mix equal parts acid and water to form a diluted solution. Always wear rubber gloves and safety goggles when working with Hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is very corrosive, will burn your skin, and will blind you if it gets in your eyes. Don't inhale the fumes. NEVER ADD WATER TO THE ACID, ALWAYS ADD THE ACID TO THE WATER. Pouring water into the acid will cause it to boil and splatter. A great deal of heat is generated during the dilution process and you want the larger body of water to absorb and dissipate the heat. ALWAYS pour the acid slowly down the side of the container into the water.
  2. Pour the diluted acid solution into the tray. I used an old plastic tray from my photo darkroom but any plastic or glass tray or bowl will suffice. NEVER use metal because the acid solution will eat right through it. Also the reason for the plastic tongs.
  3. Place your shiny new hardware in the solution and allow it to soak for a few minutes. Don't forget it's in the solution or you will come back to find it completely dissolved.
  4. Rinse thoroughly under running water to neutralize and remove all traces of the acid solution. You will now have hardware stripped of its zinc plating.
  5. Create a forged look by placing the stripped hardware in the flame of a torch. I use my acetylene torch but the burner on your kitchen stove will work in a pinch. The flame produces hardware with a muted gunmetal look.
  6. Allow the hardware to cool thoroughly and then coat with clear coat.

If you want to add even more age to the hardware, touch the surface lightly while the clear coat is still tacky.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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Comments (6)

Great read. I have an old Jones sewing machine in a beautiful wooden casing, with peddle and the old black iron wheel. The wood is damaged now, maybe you could do me an article on repairing the wood! Sorry going off track here. This was a really great way to get rid of the shine, the only thing I have made look old is my face and a piece of paper that my son was making into an old pirate map! I am out of votes but will buzz and tweet

It might just be me.. but other than the thumbnail, I didnt see a photo.. but it did say there was a photo reference..good DIY info

Brenda, the thumbnail at the top of the article is from Wiipedia


Very informative as always, Jerry. Never have to figure this problems unless one is caught up with it of course.

Really great tips I have to take note of. I love garage sales and antique stuff myself.