How To Age Brass in Less Than 5 Minutes

I like brass. Yep – I admit it. I favor the gold finish over silver or bronze.  It adds warmth and a nice patina and contrast to the furnishings in a room – plus it is classic – always be in style.

For the sideboard I painted, I wanted to add aged brass drawer and label pulls, but the un-lacquered ones that Vandyke’s sells, were on backorder until mid July.  They did however have bright brass in stock. I don’t mind bright brass, but for the sideboard, I didn’t want the pulls to be too shiny. I was upset that I couldn’t get the ones I wanted right away, but then figured, I could buy the bright brass and do a little DIY magic on them to tone them down a bit.

That is what I did.

How-to-Age-Brass-in-5-Minutes

I read about using salt and vinegar, lemons, and other solutions, but they took time and the results were not satisfactory.  If you have bright polished brass in your home and want to age it, I found a quick and easy way to do it.

How to Age Brass

supplies needed:

Brass Ager – I bought it online at the House of Antique Hardware for $8.59
“000” Steel Wool
Container large enough to hold item you are aging
Optional:  Acetone
 

First you have to determine if the brass you want to age has lacquer on it. If it does, that needs to be removed before you can age the brass.

How-to-remove-lacquer-from-brass

If you are not sure if it has lacquer on it or not – dip it in some nail polish remover or acetone for a minute or two.

Remove-lacquer-from-brass

If it starts to look like this… it has lacquer on it.

I bought the can of acetone at Lowes.  I poured it in a plastic container to soak the drawer pulls in. Place it next to your kitchen sink so that as soon as you start to see the finish get all gummy, you can rinse it off under water.  You may have to dip it in again to make sure all the lacquer is removed.  It only takes a minute.

Brass-Ager-Solution

Brass-Ager

The  “000” steel wool does not rough the surface, it only removes some of the Brass Ager so you can achieve the exact look you desire.

How-to-age-brass-in-5-minutes-or-less

1. Un-lacquered bright brass.

2. Brass that was soaked with Brass Ager for 10 seconds.

3. To lessen the aged effect – rub steel wool over the brass while it is still wet.  If you remove too much – re-dip in Brass Ager and repeat rubbing with steel wool until you get the desired amount of aging.

 

Pink-CircleMake sure that you fill the container with enough Brass Ager to completely cover the pulls to get even coverage.

 

 

Brass-aging-technique

I removed just enough of the aged color to tone the brass down a bit, but not as bright as they were before.  They will naturally age and get darker from now on, since I removed the lacquer.

How to Make the Brass Verdigris

1. Remove any lacquer or varnish using the acetone (nail polish remover) then clean the piece. Dip the item into boiling water and let it boil for a few seconds. When the piece is cool enough to handle, clean it by wiping it all over with a clean dry cloth. 

2. Soak your item for 1 hour in a mixture of vinegar and salt. Use 1 tbsp. of salt for each cup of vinegar

3. Bake the item in a 450 F oven for 20 minutes.

4. Soak the hot item in the vinegar solution until you are pleased with the color.

5. Shake off the excess vinegar and allow the brass to dry.

I also have a post on how I updated shiny brass lamps using another technique. You will find it in this post:  Transformation: Update Brass Lamps

 

how to make labels for the drawer pulls

How-to-make-labels-for-labeled-drawer-pulls

The next step is to make the labels for the drawer pulls.  Using my word processor, I printed out the names for each label.   I traced around the rectangular part of the pull to figure out the size I would need.  I set the font to Engravers MT -size to 22 pts. I printed out the names for each on white card stock.

I cut a piece of acetate from the top lid of a box of notecards to act as clear protective covers for each label. Then placed both into the drawer pull.

DIY Aged brass tutorial

To see the full post on how I made over this sideboard, you will find it here,  Furniture Before & After Makeover in Turquoise



Comments

  1. Lorene says

    I have a similar question as the commenter above — would this work on brass plating? Or maybe it’s just faux brass? I have the builder grade brass door knobs and I would really love to age them like this rather than try to spray paint them — do you think this would work to wipe on doorknobs so I wouldn’t have to remove each one?

    • says

      Hi Lorene – I am not 100% sure. I will have to try it out. If the piece is truly brass plated, then it would work on the plating, but you would still need to take the lacquer finish off first. I will have to find a piece to try it on and then I will be sure. I will get back to you.

      • Lorene says

        Thanks so much for your quick reply, Diane! I think for around $10, it’s worth a try so I’ll let you know if/when I get to trying it, too! Thanks!

  2. Jan Plov says

    It’s a relief to find this information and such clear directions with photos. I have a very large curio all shiny brass and glass. If I follow your directions, is there a way you know of to make it a little vertigras? Or, is there a way to do that without first doing the process you’ve explained for changing shiny brass to darker brass?

  3. Karen Mann says

    Thank you, thank you for the info for darkening brass drawer pulls! I have an antique walnut sideboard that someone replaced the drawer pulls with very bright, brass ones. UGH! Used your method and it darkened to perfect aged color very quickly.

    Now that I have the desired color, should I spray with a flat toned lacquer to preserve them?

    • says

      Hi Karen – The Brass Ager is a pretty cool product. It has been over two years since I did my brass pulls and I did not use lacquer or any type of sealer over them. They have stayed the same color. If you want to seal them, it can’t hurt to use a spray lacquer over them.

Trackbacks

  1. […] When I put the original pulls back on after painting, they were too dark and the styling was too traditional.  I loved the label pulls that were on the library file drawers I recently redid in my studioffice.  I went in search to find something similar to use on the sideboard.  I found these brass label and drawer pulls in the Van Dykes Restorers catalog after seeing them on Pinterest on a dresser that Destiny from A Place For Us made over. I wanted un-lacquered brass, but they were sold out until July. I didn’t want to wait that long, so I opted for the bright brass and aged them myself to tone the brass down down a bit. Here is the link to the post on how I aged the brass. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *