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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Need help "aging" a steel set of prop handcuffs? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Louisville, KY
213 Posts

Profile of magicjack1977
I have a steel set of gimmicked Seance cuffs that I bought off of Ebay. The cuffs work great and are old Darby-style cuffs but the only problem I have with them is that they are a gleaming, new-looking steel. The whole reason why I bough them was to use them in a "I got these old handcuffs from a flea market that once belonged to Houdini..." effect. It's hard to pass something that looks brand new off for an effect like that. Nothing is that remarkably preserved.

I want to be able to age them and make them look rusty and pitted without causing them to actually "rust" away or do anything that will damage the inner-workings of the cuffs or the hinges. Also, I don't want them to leave rusty residue on anyones wrists either. Does anyone have any ideas here?
Paul Prater
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North Little Rock, AR
483 Posts

Profile of Paul Prater
They are probably chrome plated. If they are chrome plated, you would have to strip the chrome. You can probably do this using a wire brush on an angle grinder. I have heard that you can also do this using muriatic acid. This can be bought in the hardware store as concrete cleaner.

If it is not chromed, I have found that circuit board etching solution does an excellent job of rusting a piece quickly. You can get circuit board etching solution at Radio Shack. Simply pour a little in a plastic bowl and hang the cuffs over the bowl. In no time at all, they will be rusty. I found this out on accident.

It is well night impossible to actually rust a piece and not leave rust residue unless you seal the piece after rusting it. You can brush off othe loose suurface rust, give a light pass with a fine grit emory paper and then seal with clear coat.
Thomas Wayne
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Inner circle
2240 Posts

Profile of Thomas Wayne
On 2009-01-12 10:45, magicjack1977 wrote:
[...] The whole reason why I bough them was to use them in a "I got these old handcuffs from a flea market that once belonged to Houdini..." [...]

Houdini once owned a flea market?

MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
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Profile of stempleton
Give them to my ex-wife for a couple of days. In seven years she aged me twenty!
PS. to TW Smile
jay leslie
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Southern California
9495 Posts

Profile of jay leslie
Depending on the finish you can use various chemicals or mechanical techniques.

What is the finish?

I'll give you one now... If they are not plated you can use Urine to give them a patina. You laugh but in India, Ox urine is the primary way metal is made to look old.
Or, you can put steel nails in a jar with some water. after a while (days) thick rust will form. Brush the rust on the surface and leave it for a while (a day or more) then wipe off.
If they are chrome (not to be confused with nickel) I would "distress them" by hitting them with a heavy chain, until the desired effect is reached.

There are a hundred finish techniques and a hundred more that are Faux finishes. There are cold methods and there are methods with heat. I can make iron look like brass and make steel look like copper. You can seal steel and put a faux rusted finish over top, then seal again. Why? It keeps the integrity. There are people who make a living by applying various finishes. I just take classes- admire their work and occasionally use a few techniques that I've picked up.

Mick Hanzlik
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Mick Hanzlik
588 Posts

Profile of Mick Hanzlik
I have a pair of Seance Cuffs made by Ian McColl of Australia. These too were bright steel when I got them. I also wanted them to look old, so I put them in my garden for a couple of months. I just lay them in the dirt and let nature do it's stuff! I could see them through my window, so I could see them getting duller and duller.

Eventally, I brought them in the house, and there was a build up of rust all over. I then sprayed them, rust and all, with WD40, then used an old rag to wipe it off. It worked well. They are now dull and look really old.

I did hear of the urine method, but in my garden, it would have looked real bad if the neighbors saw me peeing on my flowers!
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Eh, so I've made
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Profile of Steve_Mollett
I use Triangle Crafts' Sophisticated Finishes Rust Antiquing Solution (obtainable from Michael's craft supply), and later seal the finished piece with clear Rustoleum.

I used this on Ian McColl's Elias Richards reproduction with fantastic results.
The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
- Albert Camus
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