Easy Way to Age Metal

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About: I am a husband, father and DIY'er. My favorite part of DIY is trying to solve the problem!

Hey Everyone,

I just want to share a super simple process we use to age new metal brackets for our decor items! This method can be used for any things you want to have an aged look on! This process is very simple and only takes a few items.

Step 1: Materials:

-Salt

-White Vinegar

-Peroxide

-A mixing cup (or something for the metal to soak in)

-Metal that you want to age

Optional:

-gloves

-measuring cups

Step 2: Add Salt

Now that you have everything we can begin the process. Start by adding the desired metal into a suitable container. Next, add about a tablespoon of salt. This amount may need to be more if you are doing this in to larger metal pieces.

Step 3: Pour in White Vinegar

Now that you have the metal and salt in your container, go ahead and pour in the white vinegar. You want to make sure to pour in enough vinegar to fully submerge the metal. Now we wait for the vinegar to do it's thing. You will want to let it stand for at least 4 hours, I normally let mine just sit overnight and come back to it the next day.

Step 4: Remove Metal

Now that your metal has sat in the vinegar go ahead and remove it from the container and pat dry. This is when I clean out the container and get it clean for the next step.

Step 5: Peroxide Bath

Now that the container is clean, or you have a new container, go ahead and add another tablespoon of salt and metal back into the container. Then add the peroxide to submerge the meta once again. This time you will only let it sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. The solution will start to bubble. DO NOT put a lid on the container, It will build up pressure and possibly blow the lid off or break your container.

Step 6: Remove the Metal

Now that time is up remove the metal and go ahead and dry it off. This should hopefully be the patina that you are looking for.

Step 7: Add to Your Piece

Now that your metal pieces are ready go ahead and add them to wherever you need them. This is a super simple way to get that aged look without waiting years for it. Hopefully you have found this helpful and can use it to make some really neat projects!

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    21 Discussions

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    Fishbum656

    2 months ago

    Thank you for this Instructable, I have been looking for antique looking hinges for a box I'm building, but the only thing I can find is actual antique hinges which were quite pricey. Now I can buy regular hinges and make them look old. Thank you.

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    ShannonW49

    2 months ago

    Pretty cool. I've used these same ingredients (vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and salt) as an etchant for making circuit boards. Much easier, cheaper and environmentally friendly than the stinky black ferris chloride normally used.

    The salt (as someone mentioned already) does speed the process up. Ions and all that. When etching PCBs, I would add more salt when the bubbling slowed. That would "refresh" it and it would start bubbling again. To speed it up more, I added a bubble hose (aquarium air pump and basic clear air hose) to keep the solution moving around.

    I wonder if you could "age" the metal faster by combining your two steps and using a mixture like I use for etching. I'm thinking maybe 30 minutes to an hour. Its been a bit ago but I think I used two parts white vinegar (like 9% I think) and 1 part hydrogen peroxide. The salt - I just sprinkled it in afterwards until it bubbled pretty good. I know it will corrode other metals (I was etching copper), because I accidentally dropped my wedding ring in once and it cleaned it very well (a little too well, the non-gold part was starting to turn dark). It was only in the solution about 30 seconds - long enough for me to find a stinkin' pair of long needle nose to get it out.

    Anyway, something to consider if you are in a hurry ;)

    BTW, I have gotten the solution on me with no ill effects. I wouldn't bathe in it, but I'm not going to wear a hazmat suit to use it either. Maybe dried my fingertips out a little after etching several boards and drying them in between dunkings. I'm sure someone can tell me how it will turn me into a raging four-armed mutant zombie, but luckily I've already had all the children I'm going to.

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    Eh Lie Us!

    2 months ago

    Great results. thanks for sharing!

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    andycomp

    2 months ago

    Great information, I would love to know if you did the burnt timber effect and if you have an instructable on this?

    1 reply
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    OurRuggedWorkshopandycomp

    Reply 2 months ago

    I did do the burnt timber effect. I don’t have an instructable on it, but I think now that you have given me the idea I will make one!

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    ronanry

    Question 2 months ago

    I really would like to see the "chemical" formula coming in this process

    like Fe2+ + Zn + NaCl => etc....

    1 more answer
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    OurRuggedWorkshopronanry

    Answer 2 months ago

    That would be interesting. I don’t know the chemical formula for this. It is actually just a method I learned from some older family members.

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    David LG

    Tip 2 months ago

    Ferric chloride does this in one go as well ;) But i guess hydrogen peroxyde is easier to come by. Nice insctructable !

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    chefspenser

    2 months ago

    Excellent! I know about the vinigar & salt, but the O2O4 is. a nice addition. Tanks!

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    papagun

    Tip 2 months ago

    Another technique for ferro based metals is to submerge it in iron sulfate. I learned this from some scenic painters working in the movie business. Not as easy to find as it once was, I find iron sulfate in garden centers. It's used as a fertilizer additive. Make a concentrated solution and submerge the metal overnight or longer. The solution gives a "rusted" appearance to the metal.

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    jdegrosky

    2 months ago

    This is perfect timing for this instructable! Thanks so much, can't wait to try it.

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    Allan Collins

    2 months ago on Step 7

    If you are determined to deceive then don't use Phillips or other cross-head screws as those were 20th century developments.

    3 replies
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    DconBlueZAllan Collins

    Reply 2 months ago

    I don't believe the point is to deceive, but to create a popular and appealing finish. My wife loves that aged patina look but she doesn't think the pieces she buys are actually old.

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    OurRuggedWorkshopDconBlueZ

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you. It is true, we are just creating a look many like. This is not only cost effective for use, but also for anyone who is buying.

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    OurRuggedWorkshopAllan Collins

    Reply 2 months ago

    We are not trying to deceive anyone. We are just providing a way for anyone to turn brand new metal brackets, or any type of metal, to a look that they would like to go with their projects. It makes it a lot easier than searching fields and old barns for a set of four 1.5" right angle brackets with matching screws!

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    mcgypsy9

    2 months ago

    WOW this is really cool! And I spend good money on spray paints for this. I can’t wait to try this!

    1 reply
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    OurRuggedWorkshopmcgypsy9

    Reply 2 months ago

    This method definitely would reduce the cost compared to cans of spray paint.

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    SusanS337

    2 months ago

    Blackened hardware is hard to find and very pricey. This technique is perfect since many of the commercial kits designed to patinate metal usually give a rusted or green hue instead of that forged look that goes great with wood that has been given a Shou Sugi Ban finish (as you've shown). Two thumbs up!

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    OurRuggedWorkshopSusanS337

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you so much, it really is a cost effective way to be able to acquire a perfect patina we think!

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    seamster

    2 months ago

    This is excellent! I've used vinegar to remove the zinc plating from hardware and just left it overnight, just the same as you mentioned. But I've done it minus the salt . . do you know if that speeds up the process or provides some benefit to the peroxide process later on?

    Either way, the peroxide step is a new one to me and I will definitely use it in later projects. Thank you for the info!! : )