at one (or all) of the three "finishes" that follow. Each one provides great results on solid brass. (Note: Brass-plated hardware will provide inconsistent results.)

DARKENING SOLUTION. One of the simplest finishes requires a chemical darkening solution. (For sources, tum to page 49.) Don't worry. You don't have to be a chemist to make this process work. Using the solution is really quite simple.

The first step is to mix about three capfuls of darkening solution to a pint of water in a glass or plastic container. (Note: Since the darkening solution is mildly corrosive, safety goggles and a good pair of rubber gloves are a must.)

The exact mix isn't all that critical. What's important is to work with a diluted solution. This provides better control of the process and more consistent results.

Next, place the hardware in the mixture (top right photo) and keep watch for a couple minutes. Once the hardware has darkened to your liking, remove it and rinse the solution off to stop the process.

A FUMED FINISH. Another chemical process you can use involves fuming brass hardware with ammonia. The result is a classic finish with a nice patina (center margin photo).

Unlike the darkening solution, the hardware isn't placed into the ammonia. Instead, it's suspended above the ammonia to allow the vapors to alter tire brass.

Ordinär}', all-purpose ammonia is all you need here. Still, it's a good idea to work in a well-ventilated area and keep the ammonia covered as much as possible.

The fuming process is gradual, so it's easy to check the progress as it works. And once you have the result you want, simply remove the hardware from the container.

FINISH THE FINISH. My favorite hardware finish is one I discovered with a little experimentation. It's an aged look (lower right margin) that starts out by fuming the hardware as before to provide a "base coat."

Next, spray on a toned lacquer and let it dry. (i used fruitwood — other colors or finishes will provide different results). Now flame the finish a bit (main photo opposite page) until the lacquer darkens. After allowing tire hardware to cool (T set mine on a couple bricks), take some steel wool and distress the high points and edges (bottom right photo).

REVERSIBLE. Not happy with the results? Don't worry. All these finishes are reversible. Simply buff things off and try again. Once you have the hardware the way you want it, spray on a couple coats of clear lacquer or apply a few coats of wax to protect the final look.

CREATE YOUR OWN LOOK. As you can see, you don't have to settle for bright brass hardware if a different look is a better fit for your project. Simply use one of the three finishes above, or try your hand at creating your own one-of-a-kind effect.

One last thing. Brass isn't tire only kind of hardware you can age. Check out the box below to see how to create a "forged" look using zinc-plated hardware. C9

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