Create a patina on brass

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Blog entry by Stevinmarin posted 02-05-2011 01:56 AM 3206 reads 3 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, it’s not a woodworking technique, but I am certain you can think of fabulous ways to add it to wood projects. I made a pencil holder. Let me know if you have other ways to achieve a patina effect. I think it’s pretty neat!

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

25 comments so far

View deucefour's profile


285 posts in 3643 days

#1 posted 02-05-2011 02:24 AM

Very interesting, thanks for taking the time to blog the technique.


View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4101 days

#2 posted 02-05-2011 02:49 AM

You can get ‘Letraset’ type sheets to run through your laser printer and print off the entire quote, rub it on and voila no lining up and everything is spaced nicely, with whatever font you have on your computer. I supose you could even do graphics with this stuff.

Did you lacquer or somehow seal the ‘shiny bits’ so they don’t follow suit with the tarnished areas?

Thanks for posting this.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View cutmantom's profile


407 posts in 3424 days

#3 posted 02-05-2011 02:54 AM

I always enjoy your videos especially man vs wood

View cranesgonewild's profile


344 posts in 3297 days

#4 posted 02-05-2011 02:55 AM

Very cool. As always, very entertaining. I’ve never seen this technique before, and now I’m thinking of how I can incorporate this into one of my projects.

Oh great, another project on my list of many. Damn you Steve!! (kidding, of course)

-- I'm a Fungi --

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 3464 days

#5 posted 02-05-2011 03:11 AM

@Mark: Cool! I am so old school…I never knew about that. I’ll look for them.

I just lacquered everything: patina, shiny bits and MDF after I was all done.

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3549 days

#6 posted 02-05-2011 03:13 AM

Nice instructional Steve. I also like the fact that unlike David Marks, you show us how to do it with common household products. Thanks dude!

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 3464 days

#7 posted 02-05-2011 03:13 AM

@cranesgonewild: Get on it dude! I think there are a lot of ways to incorporate patina into a wood project. My first thought was to use it on inset panels on a pie safe. Or maybe the top of a box?

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 3464 days

#8 posted 02-05-2011 03:14 AM

@rance: I can’t afford shopping at woodworking stores!

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3277 days

#9 posted 02-05-2011 03:58 AM

Great idea, Steve. Thanks for sharing. If I can figure out how to use ammonia without triggering my asthma, I want t o try this.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3445 posts in 3498 days

#10 posted 02-05-2011 04:47 AM

Cool! I asked Martin about a metalworking forum awhile ago, but he was busy enough with the three he had. I like Mark’s LetraSet suggestion. A couple of others:

If you use household bleach, you will get a much lighter color- turquoise- than the ammonia. It also takes a lot longer than the ammonia to turn the color.

Optionally, you can go to the beach and get a bucket of sand to soak your project in. It’ll take a long time, but it’ll look like stuff you see in videos about shipwrecks on the ocean floor.

If you live near an ocean beach, you may already know this- if you leave copper alloys out in the weather, they’ll gain a patina of their own, given a long enough time.

The industrial grade ammonia Steve used will turn copper dark green in a few hours. The brass, being an alloy with tin, didn’t do that, it was lighter. Also, the water spray gave it that really nice mottled effect. I made a project about 6 years ago using strong ammonia, and, like Tiny, was nearly overcome by the fumes. Be really careful with it, it’s really bad news.

You can also print out what you want on a laser printer and use a clothes iron to transfer the black to the metal. In this case, you can using any design you want, not just letters, which, using this method, you would have to print backwards.

You can use a brass or copper pipe and skip the epoxy and the ABS pipe parts, though the metal pipe is considerably more expensive.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3445 posts in 3498 days

#11 posted 02-05-2011 05:35 AM


No, the fumes do the work. If you dip or spray the metal it doesn’t work.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 3464 days

#12 posted 02-05-2011 05:59 AM

Dear God, this sounds like chemistry!

So while I can’t speak to that, it was just pointed out to me that I misspelled Jane Austen. Wow. Even my wife didn’t catch my errant “i”.

Well, you see…I did it to give it that homespun, down-home feel…yeah…

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

View RichardH's profile


295 posts in 3391 days

#13 posted 02-05-2011 06:36 AM

A while back, I came across a place that sells a bunch of chemicals with suggested mixes for different color patinas but I haven’t tried it out yet.

Steve, you seem like a man of adventure – maybe you can whip up some of these carbon-tetra-deadly mixtures and see what happens…er, try not to blow up the shop.


-- "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it...It's the hard that makes it great."

View Sarit's profile


551 posts in 3529 days

#14 posted 02-05-2011 08:03 AM

Since someone mentioned bleach, I’d like to warn everyone to never mix ammonia and bleach.
That creates some potentially deadly fumes.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18571 posts in 4065 days

#15 posted 02-05-2011 08:48 AM

Nice little quickie ;-)) Can’t wait to see the next successful succession.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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