Peddler DIY

Rust Happens – How to rush metal to rust

I’m rushing things.  In certain situations this can be bad but when it comes to making the new look old – it’s genius.  People love the look of old but don’t always like the extra work that comes with it – the clean-up and de-odorizing can be challenging.  Buying true antiques is a patient process while you hunt for that perfect dusty gem or it can turn into an intimidating project that gets forgotten about in the garage.

I’m currently working on an antique steamer trunk.  I hate to disappoint – but that is not the topic for this post but I have to start with the trunk.  So this trunk……I bought it in 2009 from an antique shop in Cameron, NC.

Side note:  If you are ever in the Raleigh area, Cameron is a must stop for antique junkers.  It is basically one single main street lined with quaint antique shops.  They have an antique fair twice a year – first weekend in May and first weekend in October (

Back to the trunk – I dug it out from under a 6 ft pile of miscellaneous items on the porch of ‘This Old House’ Antique shop.  Literally, the guy working in the shop that day just watched me through the window as I feverishly junk-picked.  I think he was waiting to see if I was going to injure myself.  When it comes to junking – I am fearless and unstoppable.

This trunk was perfect – a true project in the making.  I’d been looking for one to re-purpose into a coffee table – this poor thing – the leather straps were broken, layers of grime, the inside was lined in a deteriorating yellowed cross-hatch paper, and had the distinctive antique musty odor.

This trunk became the forgotten project in the garage.

It’s only taken me 5 years to get to it.  It’s almost done so I’ll post the finished trunk soon.  I always imagined this trunk-turned-coffee-table with cute little casters on the bottom for easy mobility on carpet or other floor types.  I love antique casters (cast-iron or wood) but it’s rare to find them in good shape and can be difficult to attach.  So my plan was to buy new casters and figure out how to age them.  We just needed a light patina – I call it “knocking off the shine” – just enough rust to make the casters blend in rather than look like bling.  I did some google research and found a few options:

  • Option 1:  vinegar, salt or sugar, and hydrogen peroxide
  • Option 2:  hydrochloric acid, copper, water
  • Option 3:  vinegar and bleach
  • Option 4:  cinnamon water mixture
  • Option 5:  vinegar and baking soda

I tried Option 4 first – I was intrigued by using cinnamon and no chemicals was a plus.  Unfortunately, It didn’t work.  I mixed 4 teaspoons of cinnamon in water, poured it over my casters, and let it sit for 1 week (they fit nicely in a re-used 16 oz sour cream container).  Nothing.  The cinnamon didn’t really dissolve just clumped to the bottom and turned to goo.

For my next try, I figured my best bet was to try one of the vinegar based options.  I poured enough vinegar to cover the metal on the casters (used same sour cream container) then I  got distracted doing something else, as I often do.  When I re-focused back to the casters I was feeling too lazy to go inside [from the garage] to get salt or sugar or hydrogen peroxide or bleach or baking soda – I had just been cleaning some brushes with mineral spirits and was still holding the bottle – ya think? – sure, why not…….I poured in a splash of mineral spirits.  I put the lid on and shook it up.  It had a bubbly reaction – surely that’s a good sign.  In just 4 days they were perfectly rusted!

Casters - After

Rust on, my friends!



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