View Full Version : Aging nickel

01-16-2013, 04:33 AM
Hey all, since trying to purchase a vintage set of Champion tuning pegs is a bust, I went ahead and purchased a new set. These will be going on an antique no-name uke to replace the el-cheapo Chinese ones I currently put on there. I only used them since I had them on hand, and I didn't have to molest the headstock at all.

Here's the uke in question:

Anyhow, I don't really want to put new ones on this uke as they will look completely out of place. I ordered a new set from Elderly in nickel, and I would like to age them so the look more like the ones on my Harmony:

Now, I know I can simply just move the Harmony ones to the vintage uke, using the black buttons the new one comes with, but the Harmony ones are original to the uke, and I'd like to keep them on there, even though new ones might spruce the old Harmony up.

So, does anyone know of a way I can make the new ones look old? Steel wool will just make them look sanded down, I want to go more for the patina that my Harmony has.

Thanks for the help all,

01-16-2013, 04:46 AM
My experience with nickel plate is that it begins to patina almost immediately with exposure to the oils and acids in skin and sweat. Having played banjos for years, the nickel parts where your skin comes into contact get rough pretty quick. So just holding them in your hands for a few days before you install them should probably do it. :)

Pukulele Pete
01-16-2013, 04:51 AM
You might try using some fine steel wool to get rid of the shine on both the plastic and the nickel.

01-16-2013, 04:59 AM
Check out YouTube...search for "aging" or "distressing" guitar. I have seen videos from folks that age their new guitars with a variety of methods, some are quite impressive. Good luck!

Kayak Jim
01-16-2013, 06:41 AM
Go to a place that sells stained glass supplies and buy a bottle of "black patina". It's nitric acid I think. Just tried it on a 25 cent piece and it darkens it nicely (dark gray). Should only be a few bucks a bottle.

Jim B

Rick Turner
01-16-2013, 06:46 AM
A company called Micro Mark sells supplies to the model railroad crowd. They have a number of chemicals for aging metal and wood.

01-16-2013, 08:15 AM
Thanks to all of you for the ideas. Rick, there is a model railroad shop not too far from me, so that will be my first stop. I've also read about vinegar fumes, has anyone tried that out?


Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-16-2013, 10:10 AM
Im pretty sure there was an article on ageing screws n things American Lutherie issue 109 or 110, both of which i can't find at the moment...

That case- Stamar. Do they only sell to those with speech impediments? ;)

01-16-2013, 10:44 AM
That case- Stamar. Do they only sell to those with speech impediments? ;)

:) I think it's a Chinese case. I picked it up from Mike at Mainland Ukes a few months ago. He was getting rid of them for cheap, I guess since they are for smaller than average ukes, and mine fit in it perfectly. Besides, it seemed like a nice touch for that little uke.


Kevin B
01-16-2013, 10:55 AM
This is a thread about aging nickle. It is by a banjo luthier who deals with this frequently to match parts http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/151876

And here is an excellent resource about aging new grained ivoroid tuner buttons. Those are the first type of plastic buttons that were produced. Modern reproduction ivorid can be made to look very aged. http://www.acousticbox.com/ButtonAging.htm

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-17-2013, 12:29 PM
American Luthier # 111, page 66
Nickle screws aged in a few mins to match a 1950s tele screws

circuit-board etchant 3:1- dunk in solution then let sit on paper towl for about 2 mins then wash n wipe to stop process. Add "quick dab" of black solder stain to further darken

Chrome is leave in salted water solution for 2-4 days

01-17-2013, 01:23 PM
Vinegar will "patina" them. Nickel is pretty soft, which is why it ages fast like mentioned above (unlike chrome which is very hard). That said, don't leave them in vinegar too long. But, try that is small amounts and repeat until you get the look ya want.