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Instant age

I hate getting older, personally speaking, but for some woodworking supplies something older beats something newer.

For my reproduction work, typically from the Civil War era, it’s hard to find materials that match what they used in the period. The wood isn’t too difficult (that is, if you can afford to buy wood these days), as it’s easy to mill, cut and finish in a way that it’s indistinguishable from 19th-century material.

But hardware is another story. Clearly, you can’t use anything modern, especially for visible fasteners. That not only includes screws with Phillips heads, but often the metal itself. Modern screws are coated and plated with a variety of protective stuff, almost always making them mirror bright, a no-no for period work. While there are suppliers of slotted, non-plated screws, sometimes I have to go the DIY route to make them “period-correct.”

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What you see up there is a progression of how I create screws that would look at home in the 1800s. It’s pretty easy to strip that plating off using a diluted solution of muriatic acid. Lacking that, an overnight bath in vinegar can also work.

In the photo you see the original new shiny screws, then what they look like fresh out of an acid bath, and finally after they’ve been oiled and stored for a while. Sure, stripping the plating off makes them more prone to rusting in the finished project, but that makes it even more “period-correct.”

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