xpost Opinions on unlacquered brass door hw?

slateberryFebruary 5, 2009

I live in a 120 yo home with lots of brass hardware. Most of it is aged and darkened, with burnished places. I guess it's really all over the map of light and dark.

Our front door hardware just died. It was not original, and not very good, so we are not attempting to restore it.

This is my forever house and I want a permanent solution. I am looking into the baldwin hamilton or cody with mortise. Originally I thought I'd get the hamilton in aged brass finish, but then I read about how it scratches and looks bad after a couple of years. Now I'm leaning toward the cody in unlacquered brass. That way, over the years, it will darken to blend with the other hardware in my house. Also any scratches will also weather and develop patina and blend in over time. I'm just suspicious of these new-fangled factory "lifetime" finishes I guess. It seems to me that if the finish gets damaged, there is no way to fix it, and it just looks messed up, not aged or weathered. Any opinions?

(cross posted to metalworking forum)

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I'm putting in unlacquered brass all around (I have very little original hardware) in my 125yo house. It's quite bright now, but I expect in a couple of years it will look more "lived-in". I started a year ago and those things are already not as bright.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 11:38AM
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Circus Peanut

Ooh ooh, I have an answer! I needed some replacement brass items and didn't want to wait for them to age to match the rest, so I used the potion linked below. You just dip the piece in for a minute or longer, depending on how much you want to age it. (Or brush it on, but it's as thin as water.) You can clean the piece with lacquer remover and/or fine sandpaper first to make sure there's no coating to interfere with the process.

It gives a really nice authentic tarnish that hasn't come off with 6 months of regular use, and best of all it doesn't scratch off like my new ORB finished lockset has done. (Wish I'd known about this option before ordering a new front door lock!)

Here's a quick pic of a round deadbolt cover I put in a door to cover the big hole from P.O.'s awful 1970's shiny deadbolt. Couldn't find any vintage equivalent, so I got a new cover in shiny brass at Ace hardware, then de-lacquered it and tarnished it with the solution. What I like is that it's a live, uneven tarnish that reacts to the metal, it's not uniform and paint-like. (My camera's on the fritz, if I get it fixed I'll post a better close-up shot.) The colors of doorknob and round cover actually do match, it's a bad photo:

Here is a link that might be useful: a little goes a long way: brass darkening solution

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 9:04AM
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OK, if you two in particular are going this route as well, then I'm definitely following in some good footsteps, which gives me confidence to proceed. This hardware is pricey (over $1K), so I only get one chance to get it right. (stifling rant about what I think door hardware ought to cost--I mean really, I never dreamed).

Hey circus, i am a longtime admirer of your kitchen and your posts in general. I'm thinking of using your tile place in ME for the surround on one of my fireplaces when I restore it. So, add one more person quietly gleaning info from your posts and going to town!

thanks for the tip about the darkening solution too.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 9:21AM
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Circus Peanut

Alex, why thank you, that's very kind of you! One sort of shoots these messages off into the ether, not knowing if they've really landed anywhere ..

When you're at that stage, do drop me a line and I'll give you my name for the NE Art Tile guys, in case it warms up the price a little for you. Their tile really is lovely and I'm still enjoying looking at it daily, with even the occasional surreptitious caress.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 1:18PM
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