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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Tue 05 May, 2015 4:02 am    Post subject: How can I antique Tin?         Reply with quote

I recently bought an item for my 18th century kit that is shiny tin plate. I want to give it more of a tarnished, mat-gray look... sort of like pewter. I have several tin items in my kit with several different finishes. I am assuming that all of them started out looking different from one another, rather than a finish being applied to some of them. So, is it possible to antique the shiny stuff, or do I just need to be satisfied to allow mother nature to take its course?

I have seen some articles online that talk about how to produce a rusted finish. That is NOT what I am after. A tarnished finish would be great, but rusty is not the look I want.

Any suggestions?

Sic Semper Tyranus
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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
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PostPosted: Tue 05 May, 2015 5:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris....

In my experience, the best way to age tin is to use it. I did the buckskinning, reenacting thing for quite a few years and during that time my cookware and other tin items aged nicely. If it is something you can use around the house between expeditions that will help too.

Best of luck...

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 05 May, 2015 6:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had great success getting a satin finish on a cheap, shiny watch case just by rubbing with fine steel wool. dramatically improved the looks.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Tue 05 May, 2015 6:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's oxidizers and other solutions designed to put a quick patina on metal items if you want fast results.

http://shop.surfinchemical.com/PATINAS-GALAXY...IN_c10.htm
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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
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Posts: 344

PostPosted: Wed 06 May, 2015 4:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
Chris....

In my experience, the best way to age tin is to use it. I did the buckskinning, reenacting thing for quite a few years and during that time my cookware and other tin items aged nicely. If it is something you can use around the house between expeditions that will help too.

Best of luck...


Yes, it seems heat and use does a good job on tin. Unfortunately, the item in question is a candle box that mostly just hangs in the wall. I do plan on using it for lighting displays, but don't think that will give it the patina I am hoping for as quickly as I would like.

Sean -- I have used that method already, but the tin still has a very light color to it. I am hoping to turn it a darker color. But you are right, buffing it with steel wool did knock down the glossy look and improved the appearance quite a bit.

Tyler -- thanks for your reply as well. The chemicals in question look like they would produce the look I am after. I just can't justify $100 to get that result. Hoping there is a home remedy out there that I can try, but maybe not. After all, the whole point of tin plating was to keep the item protected from rust and deterioration.

Still, thank you all for your replies! They have all been helpful in confirming my suspicions.

Sic Semper Tyranus
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Wed 06 May, 2015 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not sure if this will work for tin as it does for steel, but you could try this:

Put it in an hot oven (300, 350 degrees or so-- you don't have to worry about losing its temper like you would with a steel blade) for maybe half a hour, take it out (carefully, use pliers or pot-holders) and wipe it down with a rag soaked in vegetable oil. That should get it nice and filthy. Then gently scrub it down with a Scotch-brite pad to remove the gunk, and you should have a decent patina left.

EDIT to add an important note: If this is *galvanized* tin, DO NOT do this. Toxic fumes will ensue from heating it up.
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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
Likes: 14 pages

Posts: 344

PostPosted: Wed 06 May, 2015 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Not sure if this will work for tin as it does for steel, but you could try this:

Put it in an hot oven (300, 350 degrees or so-- you don't have to worry about losing its temper like you would with a steel blade) for maybe half a hour, take it out (carefully, use pliers or pot-holders) and wipe it down with a rag soaked in vegetable oil. That should get it nice and filthy. Then gently scrub it down with a Scotch-brite pad to remove the gunk, and you should have a decent patina left.

EDIT to add an important note: If this is *galvanized* tin, DO NOT do this. Toxic fumes will ensue from heating it up.


Thanks, Jeffrey. My one concern is that the box is soldered together, and I am not sure at what temperature the solder will melt, and the whole candle box fall apart. As Lin mentioned with his cookware (and has been my experience as well) heat and use does seem to age tin. So maybe there is a way to go about your idea that would heat up the metal to the necessary temperature without compromising the solder?? But if at all possible, I am hoping someone has an idea that doesn't involve heat, but more of a chemical reaction to patinate the tin.

If all else fails, I may resort to japanning the tin. Not my first choice, but may be preferable to the bright tin finish, and is appropriate to the 18th century.

Sic Semper Tyranus
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Wed 06 May, 2015 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Solder... that's a good point, I hadn't thought about that.

Common electrical solder will soften around 360 degrees and melt completely around 420. So keeping it at around 250 should be fine, you will just need to keep it going a little longer in the oven. Just put it directly on the oven rack rather than on a tray as the tray will act as a heat-sink and prevent the tin from heating for longer.

Alternatively, the simplest thing to do would probably be to just leave it out in your backyard, in a place where it can be exposed to the elements for some time, after scrubbing it thoroughly with some fine steel wool. Check on it fairly regularly. When it's got a good initial layer of rust, gently remove that with fine steel wool dipped in light oil (3-in-1 should do the job). That should leave some gentle pitting and a light patina which can be enhanced with some careful 'antiquing'.
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