Custom cabinet hardware and the challenge of creating steel replicas of pewter castings

We were recently commissioned to replicate cabinet handles from the 1920’s for use in other areas of a home being renovated. It was not possible to establish the base metal used for the originals without damaging the pieces and our best guess was possibly the castings were made in pewter or nickel. While the metal alloy did not impact our ability to replicate the shape of these 3 cabinet pieces it did present us with interesting patina and finish choices.

We began the project by carefully cleaning the originals so that we could get a good impression in our latex rubber mold. As the pieces were small simple shapes we were able to make a single two-part mold that would accommodate all 3. We could have made individual molds for each piece but given that we were making less than 50 pieces this would not have been cost effective. We made a simple mold and after cleaning the originals sprayed on a release agent making them easier to later extract from the latex mold.

The photo below shows the red waxes that were made from this type of mold using Westech’s V510 wax V510 that has melting range of 185° to 195°. The originals were made for different screw threads, but the replicas need to suit modern needs so were drilled and tapped for a uniform 8-32 threaded screw. Stainless steel is an excellent durable alloy but needs to be heated when applying Birchwood’s M20 dark patina. As an added measure we baked the pieces in a clear matt enamel to protect the patina and give a very subtle sheen.

 After Patina Applied and with Clear Enamel Baked On

After Patina Applied and with Clear Enamel Baked On

 In steel before finishing and in red wax

In steel before finishing and in red wax