Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Antiquing Nails

Vinegar-treated on left; zinc on right.
I ordered some box nails from the Tremont Nail Company for another storage project. The nails were zinc-coated and shinier than I liked so I used a tip from Bob Rozaieski to antique them.

Two vinegar-treated nails. The one on
the left was buffed with steel wool.

Following his suggestion, I put a bunch of nails in a sealed jar filled with vinegar for about a day and a half. Through the glass I could see that the nails had darkened to a light charcoal color. The shiny zinc was gone.

The extra half day did not darken the nails, so one day would have been long enough.

Zinc/Vinegar/Vinegar & Steel Wool
I poured the vinegar out and laid the nails on a towel to dry. After about half an hour I checked them and found that they were coated in rust. If you rinse your nails with water right after the vinegar you will not encounter as much rust, according to Bob.

However, you may find that you like the rust color.  And the surface rust won't hurt the nails, so you can leave them as is.

For comparison, I buffed one of the vinegar-treated nails with steel wool to remove the rust and reestablish the dull, light charcoal color. Bob says the nails will continue to darken with age.

Zinc/Vinegar/Vinegar & Steel Wool
So you have a choice: bright & shiny, dull and gray (which will darken), or rust.

Depending on your taste or the look you're trying to achieve, you may prefer one over the others.

Bob made a short video about the aging process it here.
You can buy nails in smaller quantities from Tools For Working Wood.