I love to repair old derelict or broken
woodworking tools. Cracked castings can be welded, rust can be removed,
japanning replaced, but they always look naked when refurbished...an old
tool with bright, shiny metalwork. Patina gives the tool 'the look'; a
visual warmth and a feeling that a craftsman has been taking special
care of it for many years.
There are many ways to add patina to cast
iron... this method has worked for me for quite a while. Please be
careful if you try this method, it has it's dangers. Wear safety
equipment and work in a fume hood if possible.
Prepare your victim by sanding to the
desired finish and degrease with soap and water or brake cleaner.
NB: brake cleaner is really bad for you...use it outside or in a fume
Don't forget to -slightly- break sharp
edges for a worn look. Drop a handful of nuts 'n bolts on it a few times
to simulate small toolbox dings.
Heat the plane evenly with a propane
torch...not too hot, you don't want to harm the japanning. Just nice n'
warm. Use an acid brush to apply gun brown or any number of liquid
patinas available in stained glass shops.
I like to use 'Plum
Brown' first and a touch of black patina after. Use the torch to
dry the solution...repeat if necessary. It looks ugly at this
stage, but don't worry, the only way you can mess up is if you fry the
Scrub the plane gently with a fine Scotch-Brite
pad using a light oil as a lubricant. I like to heat the plane up
with the torch again at this point... the oil helps mellow the patina.
If you don't care for the way it looks, add more patina acid and heat...
keep repeating until it looks good. Apply a light coat of wax to
preserve the patina... I use Antiquax manufactured by James Briggs Ltd
in the UK. It is readily available here in Canada.
Some helpful hints
Remember that you are
simulating wear and signs of use. Think about how the tool was
used, where hands would have touched it and how this would affect the
finish. Hands leave acidic fingerprints and/or grease... this eventually
turns into the patina we seek.
Repetitive actions will wear
certain edges over many years. A solid, even patina looks as wrong as no
patina, get creative and have fun with it... if you don't like it, start again.