How to Patina Steel with Chemicals! (Custom Headboard) (2023)


This video introduces you to Sculpt Nouveau, a company that specializes in the manufacture of chemicals that create various patina finishes on different metals. On this project I prepped the steel tubing with a belt sander creating a wood grain like finish and then used Black Magic for a custom modern headboard. Black magic was applied in two layers and the burnished with Scotch-brite pads to reveal some of the metallic creating a gun metal appearance.

Black Magic can be purchased from the Sculpt Nouveau website.

Stuff Featured in This Video!
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Prep-All Surface Prep

Scotch-brite Pads

The Tools Featured in This Video:

Empire Abrasives
Get 10% Off! Use Promo Code GarageFab

Harbor Freight Grinder
Corded 4-1/2 in. 5 Amp Angle Grinder

Welder ESAB Fabricator

Plasma Cutter Hypertherm

Vise Wilton

Hole Cutters - Hougen

Sheet Metal Shears - Kett

The Video Production Equipment I Use:


Sony A7iii Mirrorless Camera

Lumix G7 Mirrorless Camera

Audio Equipment:

Rode Wireless Go Lav

Giant Squid Lav

Sound Recorder Zoom H4n Pro

Tripod Manfrotto

Tripod Head

Neewer Camera Slider



Flashpoint Ring Light

Phottix Nuada R3


Hey fellow garage fabbers, I'm aaron with mancandy's creations, and today I learned there's more ways to color metal than just paint if you're just joining garage fab.

In the last video, we used a really fancy homemade tool to make miter cuts in some three inch square steel tubing.

That tubing was the beginning of a custom headboard.

My reason for wanting a headboard is a gross one and kind of embarrassing.

So let's share it with millions of people, I'm an automotive technician by day and a fabricator by night.

So, needless to say, I'm a dirty, and even though I scrub myself raw in the shower before bed over time, a mysterious dirt stain appears on the wall by my head good night babe and before you click out, because it's not car related thanks to this project.

I now have an incredible plan for a custom bed floor in the mighty max I'll talk about that.

More later, the square tubing I'm using, I actually bought for a custom recliner I designed a few years ago, and I still haven't built so this metal has been sitting on my steel rack, getting dinged and scratched ever since.

So the first order of business is to try and make it a little less ugly.

A year or so ago, I was asked to build suicide doors on a lexus as well as something with my logo on it.

That would hold the doors open and keep car show spectators out on the door props.

I built I experimented with a belt sander to see what a bunch of intentional scratches would look like after painting it.

I was thrilled with the result, which kind of resembled wood grain.

I'm going to do that again and remove these scratches with more scratches.

Applying the scratches long ways gives the best wood grain effect.

Let's add some color, a friend of mine, introduced me to scope nouveau a company that specializes in chemically forced patinas of various styles and colors on different kinds of metal.

If you're not familiar patina is the term used for the aged appearance of a surface, usually rust and sometimes mixed with worn and scratched paint.

I just want to say real quick that my first impression of sculpt's nouveau is an incredible one and they are not paying me to say that.

Nor did I get free product.

In fact they don't really know.

I exist and I almost paid 50 freaking dollars for this bottle, but I think we humans are quick to write bad reviews over trivial things and slow to give praise when it's deserved.

There is a rat in my soup, one star god, so picky go eat your soup.

I don't ever eat in here.

Some people don't get soup anyway.

I ordered this on wednesday and I got it on friday.

I didn't think I was going to get to work on this for another week or so so I'm impressed and I get to work on this video right now.

Thank you.

Well done, I purchased black magic.

The door props were painted black, so I figured a black finish, was a safe bet, the instructions say scuffing.

The metal first may improve the performance of the product.

Uh, I think we're scuffed next is removing dirt and oil from the surface.

Sculpt nouveau makes their own degreaser, but I already have some that I use before prepping for paint.

Lastly put on a vapor respirator and some gloves they make it pretty clear.

This stuff is harmful to drink or breathe in and it smells terrible.

So I'm cool with that.

There are several ways to apply this stuff.

It comes in a spray bottle, so you can use that you can blot with a sponge.

You can soak smaller pieces or brush it on I'm going with the brush method, which I will apply in the same direction as the wood grain.

If brush strokes are a thing with this stuff, I think they'll either be hidden by the scratches or they'll enhance the scratches, I'm okay with either of those, and I think, I'd like to waste less product by avoiding overspray because 50 freaking dollars.

It appears to do its work almost instantly, but they say to let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse it off rinse with water, while rubbing lightly until all the product is removed and the water runs clear.

Remember this isn't paint it's a chemical process, that's actually altering the surface of the metal, so you won't be rinsing off the color, I'm going to set the pieces in the sun, so they can dry and we'll check it out.

The frame pieces are done drying in the sun and I am not happy with the finish at all and let me be clear: I think the product is doing what it's supposed to be doing and doing it very well.

My issues, I think, all stem from my lack of knowledge and experience applying this stuff.

Let me explain.

First of all, I don't like the rushed color, it's kind of cool looking, but it's not what I'm going for.

This is sculpt nuvo black magic, it's supposed to be black and it's it's not black.

So what I think that is is surface rust from letting it dry.

Naturally, if you've ever gotten bare metal wet, you would know how quickly the surface rust forms as the water dries.

I think drying with a towel will help quite a bit and I'll be adding a clear coat later, which I really think is going to bring out the black, and I don't think the rust color is going to be an issue.

Some other issues I have are some splotchiness, where the pieces were sitting on the saw horses, some runs more application issues and some fingerprints from where I touched it.

While the product was still wet and working, the instructions say that you may need to add multiple coats to get the finish that you want.

So I'm going to add another coat.

But this time I'm going to do several things different in hopes that I get a little bit better result, one I'm going to do each piece individually, so I can focus on getting a good quality coat on each one and I won't have to touch them while trying to move them around to get the other pieces.

So one piece at a time and when they're done I'm going to rinse them and dry them with the towel immediately and we'll see how that looks while degreasing, I noticed that I was wiping the surface rust completely away and the wetness of the degreaser really brought out the blacks, which is exactly what the clear coat's going to do so just that little bit has brought back my confidence in that this is going to look exactly the way I want it to when it's done so much better.

I towel dried the pieces and they're actually black.

I'm super happy with how the metals turned out, but before I hit it with clear coat, I'm going to weld everything together because there's a couple welds that you're going to see and my plan for this is to not see any weld, so I'm going to have to grind down those few welds and refinish them to match the rest of the metal.

Alright, my plan for this is to look exactly as it does right now.

This seam will show as if it's two pieces of wood, mitered and glued together, the only welds are going to be on the very back where you can't see right now, and this outer corner right there, which will get ground down and refinished to match.

So I've got some finishing touches to do on the frame just before she gets cleared.

I'm welding in a one inch square tube across the frame, a few inches below the top of the mattress to support the bottom of the wood backboard and a few pieces of angle iron around the inside of the frame for the backboard to bolt to I'm gonna degrease one last time, and this frame will be ready for clear.

So the most incredible thing just happened.

I decided not to film the last degreasing because it was getting redundant, but this time the microfiber towel.

I was using started to come apart in my hands.

Maybe the degreaser finally started eating the fabric or something, but the frame was covered in fibers and bits and pieces of towel, and I tried brushing this fuzz off and wiping with a new towel and nothing was working the fuzz just stuck so I grabbed a scotch brite pad to see if that would work.

It certainly did, but not without taking off some black.

I was like bummer I'm going to have to do a third coat and I don't want to do that because lazy and 50 freaking dollars.

I'm smiling, though, because I realized that the scotch brite pad was taking off some black, but some of the bare steel started to peek through and the result was sort of a gunmetal gray, wood grain and it looks amazing and it turns out, even though I discovered it on accident.

This method of using an abrasive pad on the patina is actually used a lot which they call burnishing.

Now it's time for clear coat.

Clear coat is necessary because, even though it's a different color now the metal is still bare, which means it can still oxidize.

It can still rust and change.

Color over time also, this finish is technically a rust itself and rust rubs off the clear will seal it back, so our hands won't get black and ruin our sheets.

I didn't want a shiny look though so I went with a matte clear.

I can't really express how excited I am with how this finish turned out, but I can tell you that I've decided to use this method on the bed floor in the mighty max.

My original plan was to do a wood floor and either char it black and cover it with epoxy, or try to somehow dye the wood pink to match the paint, but I think the gunmetal wood grain will look so much better.

I'm not going to get too detailed on the wood backboard.

I had a couple boxes of wood flooring left over from another project, so I glued some of those pieces together and cut it to fit inside the frame I just built.

I decided to bolt the wood to the frame using carriage bolts because they kind of look like rivets carriage bolts, come zinc, coated, a bright silver and have numbers on the heads.

I decided they should probably match the frame and applying the sculpt nouveau directly to the zinc created some really strange results, so I decided to remove the zinc and the numbers by chucking, the bolts in a drill and hitting the heads with a flap disc.

Adding the patina to the bare steel looks much better and of course, I had to scuff the heads with scotch break.

So hey that wasn't so bad.

Was it hello wow? Almost everybody left it's just you and me now, oh well, until the next one, my friend, my true friend you right, there keep moving forward.


What are 2 ways to add a patina to the surface of metal? ›

Types of Steel Patinas
Types of Steel PatinaMaterials Used
Rust PatinaMany cheap and accessible ingredients including: Salt, vinegar,hydrogen peroxide,chlorine bleach, muriatic acid, air, water, and sun
Black PatinaGun bluing and other blackeners
Heat PatinaJust heat and air
1 more row
Oct 7, 2022

How do you speed up patina on steel? ›

Soak the metal in vinegar.

This solution can produce many colors of patina depending on soak time, metal composition, temperature, and other factors. For more intense oxidation, first soak the metal in only vinegar. Following that, add hydrogen peroxide and salt to the vinegar as subsequently described.

What chemical can speed up the patina look? ›

Over the centuries many recipes have been created to patina both ferrous and nonferrous metals, using heat and chemicals to help speed the process. Two of the most popular chemicals used for antiquing or creating colorful patinas on metals are dilute solutions of hydrochloric acid and Liver of Sulfur (LOS).

What chemicals are used for patina? ›

The basic palette for patinas on copper alloys includes chemicals like ammonium sulfide (blue-black), liver of sulfur (brown-black), cupric nitrate (blue-green) and ferric nitrate (yellow-brown). For artworks, patination is often deliberately accelerated by applying chemicals with heat.

What is the best way to patina metal? ›

Submerge The Metal In White Vinegar

Then add an equal amount of salt to the vinegar, thoroughly stir the mixture, and place the metal so it can sit in the mixture and create a vinegar and & patina. Allow the metal to soak in vinegar-salt patinating mixture for a minimum of 1/2 an hour.

How do you make a patina solution? ›

For a blue patina, mix one part Miracle-Gro with three parts water for a solution that you can spray or wipe onto the copper. For a green patina, mix one part Miracle-Gro with three parts red wine vinegar. A patina will form within 30 minutes and become permanent within 24 hours.

How do you make metal look distressed? ›

To add vintage appeal to various types of metalwork, you can distress it using fine abrasives like sandpaper and steel wool. Depending on the desired effect, a patina can also be applied to the surface of the metal.

How long does it take for steel to patina? ›

Instead, the surface of corten steel forms this attractive orange-brown rust-like appearance over time when exposed to weather conditions like moisture and oxygen in the air. It takes approximately 2-3 years for corten steel to form an attractive patina on its surface.

How do you speed patina? ›

Exposure to the elements is the purest way for patina to thrive. Sunlight and heat will bring out our leather's golden tones. Rain and sea water will leave splash marks and natural oils from your hands will create darker patches to form.

What are different ways to patina copper? ›

Soaking copper in white vinegar and salt will create a blue or green patina. Other ways of doing this are to bury the copper in sawdust or crushed potato chips soaked in white vinegar. The longer the copper is buried, the darker the patina becomes.

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