View Full Version : Antiquing tuners... How?

10-04-2011, 06:34 PM
Does anyone know a half way decent way to make a new set of friction pegs look not so new? I purchased a set of friction pegs for what I believe is a Harmony soprano out of the 1930's, and I am keeping the finish pretty much as is. The tuning pegs are going to look off having shiny chrome posts and shiny black buttons. The chrome won't bother me, but the buttons will. I know I can probably rub them down with some steel wool, but even using 0000, won't that make it look like that's what I did to them? Anyhow, I've never needed to do this, but for this project, I would like to.

Any suggestions?


Shepard man
10-04-2011, 06:39 PM
I, myself, have never done this but I have heard that if you wanted to age white plastics then you could soak them in a tea or leave them in the sun for a bit. I don't know how effective that would be on black plastics though.

10-04-2011, 06:43 PM
There's one school of restoration that says replacements and repairs should look new. One day, of course they won't look as new as they do now.

That said, if you want to try to blend them, a lot will depend on what your materials are.

On the buttons, just get a little creative. Don't use just the steel wool - maybe a little fine sandpaper, maybe dent it a bit. Look at your old buttons and let them be your guide.

On the metal, depending on how it's finished, you can soak them for a little while in ammonia. If there's not a heavy finish, it will darken them. Then use the steel wool again - this will brighten up the outer parts, leaving the cracks and recesses dark, as they would be with old metal.

10-05-2011, 04:23 AM
Also try a Google search for "how to relic tuners."

10-05-2011, 07:39 AM
Thanks all. Yeah, I've definitely made white plastic and new wood look older with really strong tea, but these being black, that's a different story. Unfortunately, this uke came without tuning pegs (by the way, it's the one in my avitar), but I know the originals would have been black. I've done a google search on this, but all I'm seeing is for white buttons, not black. However, one I saw said to sand them and put them in tomato sauce for 12-hours. I can kind of see how the acid from the sauce would help weather them. Maybe I'll give that a try. I ordered two sets of tuners, so if I mess up one set, I can always just deal with new tuners and install the second set.


10-05-2011, 08:12 AM
The best way is to put them on, and play the hell out of it for another 30 years or so and they will blend in.. ;) But I have aged them by boiling them in coffee grounds rather than just soaking them. The heat will open up the pours of the plastic and they will take the color. However, it may, or may not be even. I tend to like to let it take on whatever naturally comes out of it, because it looks more random. I actually make an alcohol bath I cook them in with coffee grounds, and a smidge of powder pigment stain of choice (I like to use red mahogany). It comes out kinda intense, but calms down after rubbing it down with a cloth when it comes out. They tend to come out looking old, and more like a natual mineral with vaining through it. But, the key regardless is heat opening up the pores of the plastic.

for the record, I would never suggest heating alcohol due to obvious hazzards. I never leave it alone, and very careully monitor the heat taking flash point in account, and of course alcohol and any flame, well, need I say more. Don't do it, be smarter than I am.. lol