How to Make Rustic Brass Cabinet Knobs & Handles

Written by hillary marshall Google
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How to Make Rustic Brass Cabinet Knobs & Handles
Give your brass handles a quick patina by exposing them to ammonia vapour. (knob image by Alfonso d"Agostino from

If you want your furniture to look antique or rustic, shiny brass knobs and handles don't work. Fortunately, you can instantly give your furniture a facelift and age it a bit by distressing your brass knobs and handles. When brass is older it develops a patina, or film, from being exposed to the elements over time. Using a few household items, you can give your brass a patina without having to wait years for it to develop.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Lacquer remover or acetone nail polish remover
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Plastic container with lid
  • Paintbrushes
  • Old rag
  • Ammonia
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic goggles

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  1. 1

    Wash brass knobs and handles in warm soapy water. If you cannot remove them from the furniture they are on, wipe them down with a soapy sponge, then wipe the soap off with a clean, wet towel.

  2. 2

    Rinse brass fixtures with cool water. Dry with a clean lint-free cloth.

  3. 3

    Remove lacquer finish from the brass. Either soak it in lacquer remover or paint a coat of acetone nail polish remover on the brass and let it sit overnight. Do this in a well-ventilated area.

  4. 4

    Rinse the brass hardware under cool water to remove the acetone nail polish remover or lacquer remover. Dry the hardware completely with a lint-free cloth.

  5. 5

    Oxidise your brass by painting on a mixture of vinegar and saltwater. To do this, paint a generous coat of vinegar on the hardware. Let it sit. Mix 1 cup of water with 2 tbs. of saltwater. Paint the saltwater mixture over the coat of vinegar.

  6. 6

    Soak an old rag in ammonia. Use ammonia outside, or in a well-ventilated room, while wearing protective gloves and goggles.

  7. 7

    Place your hardware in one end of a clean, plastic container. Place the ammonia soaked rag in the other end of the plastic container. The two items should not be touching.

  8. 8

    Close the lid of the container. The vapours from the ammonia that collect in the sealed container will tarnish the brass hardware. The time can vary on this process depending on the hardware and your aesthetic preferences. Check the hardware frequently and remove it when you achieve the desired patina.

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