oil rubbed bronze hardware

How to Create Oil Rubbed Patinas for Bronze Door Handles

Our bronze door handles are offered in a variety of hot and cold patinas but the most popular c are our light and dark antique patinas. I hope to explain how we create these 2 patinas step by step using our daisy cabinet pull to demonstrate the process.

Over time bronze will develop its unique patina and its surface color can range from brown to black to blue or green as it reacts to the chemical properties in the local atmosphere and as the surface of the bronze begins to oxidize. With our antique finishes we try to emulate the brown and black surface tones to create a controlled aged appearance.  To do so we use a product made by Birchwood Technologies called   M20 Antique Black. Their solution, unlike pigmented stains, does not sit on the surface of the metal but rather through chemical conversion it creates a 3 to 4 micron thick patina.  However, before this process happens the bronze handle must be cleaned.

Surface Preparation

Our castings are first placed in a sealed and pressurized chamber and glass beads made from fine silica are air- sprayed into the chamber to remove  small casting burrs or rough particles.

We then remove even smaller burrs or scratches with a buffing wheel and disks, progressing as needed, from medium grit to fine grit disks. The disks we use are made by Standard Abrasives and made from a tough resin reinforced nylon fiber with aluminum oxide which acts as an abrasive element. Since the nylon web is un-woven it is more flexible and so will follow the contours of the bronze.

To remove fiber particles, dust or other surface impurities we clean the piece with an air pressure hose.

Patina by Conversion Coating

Using M20 we make our own solution using 1 part M20 and 1 part distilled water mixed in a non-reactive dipping vessel.  The piece is immersed for 30 to 60 seconds and then neutralized by immersion into another vessel of distilled water.  If,upon inspection, we see that certain areas have not reacted to the solution and are still bright we re-clean those areas and dip again.


As you can see from the # 3 above the chemical conversion creates a fairly uniform patina which is somewhat drab. To create greater contrast we gently and strategically burnish by hand areas with a fine nylon abrasive pad and thereby re-expose the golden tones of the bronze casting.


To seal the bronze we use a soft cloth to apply 2 coats of oil and once dry, finish with hard wax. There are many  products to choose from but we have found Sculpt Nouveau’s  metal oil and black wax easy to work with see useful links below.






Color As An Accent for Bronze Door Handles

As a large portion of our door handles are cast in bronze we have the ability to add subtle shading to the pieces by oxidizing them and then sealing them with oil and wax. However, those of you who are art collectors will also know that bronze can be finished with more sophisticated colored patinas. Some of these colors, specifically Verde Gris, will often develop naturally on bronze and we have all seen the beautiful blue green hues on the domed roofs of old churches and civic buildings that have developed after decades of exposure to the elements. As our time scale does not permit the patina to develop naturally we are able to create several colors of patina by applying pigments directly to our bronze. To ensure an intense color that permeates the surface we heat the bronze up to 200° and apply the pigment by hand often with a very fine brush. As you can see from the picture below we add a pea-green pigment over the body and toes of our lizard door handle to approximate the color of the Anole lizard.



We use these hot patinas typically on our nature inspired door handles and cabinet pulls. For an autumnal appearance on our sycamore leaves we use an ox red pigment and for our wasp cabinet pulls we turn to a mustard pigment. Our use of hot patinas on bronze began when we started making our wasp cabinet pulls for our limited edition Ascot series of case goods. The furniture pieces in this collection are all decorated with vine leaf motifs created using a form of japanning, a technique that uses gold leaf over casein to create a raised motif which is then hand painted with colored glazes made by suspending pigments in turpentine. The bronze wasps, some with closed wings and the leader with open wings were made as the finishing touch to the Ascot Highboy.  

Custom or off the rack?

While we all enjoy a good bargain is it always the best idea?  Are you really getting more bang for your buck when you purchase an item that looks a lot like a more expensive item but is much cheaper? While we understand that custom hardware is expensive, there are many reasons to consider a custom item:

  • A well-made item will, in most cases, operate much better than its less expensive cousin.  Is it worth saving some money only to have to tuggle with a door knob or locking mechanism time after time?
  • Function is of utmost importance but appearance ranks a close second.  Interesting or unique hardware says something about you--it says you understand the value of small details in your home.  Designers understand this and often choose custom architectural hardware for their projects.
  • Many people enjoy owning something that is unique to their home whether it be a piece of artwork, bespoke furniture item or custom hardware designed with their personality, hobbies, interests in mind.
  • Add personality to your space or create an unforgettable first impression with custom entry door hardware.  A beautiful set crafted of oil rubbed bronze is nice but how much more impressive would an item from our custom Willow collection be?

You decide----

This standard polished chrome interior door knob off the rack:

martin pierce baldwin chrome door knob 127 dollars

Or our high polished, hand cast, stainless steel knob from our Textured collection?

Conical pull from the textured collection

What set says more about you and your personality?  This lovely and certainly sufficient oil rubbed entry set?

martin pierce baldwin entry door hardware

Or this amazingly detailed entryway set from our Grapevine collection?

Grapevine series front door thumblatch entry door lever from Martin Pierce Hardware

This off the rack cabinet hardware that certainly has an interesting texture and design

martin pierce bronze knob from lowes

Or one of our hand-made daisy, bee or gecko pulls?

Daisy drawer pull

To view all of these items and our entire collection of custom hardware, please visit us at www.martinpierce.com.

Mix and match your hardware metals

Well we have returned from Las Vegas with both our pocketbook and our sanity in tact.  While our Morphic door pull did not win the Best New Product contest we do thank all of you who voted for it and also a big thank you to those of you who stopped by the booth to enjoy some of our new products as well as some of our favorites.  You can find out who won the 10 butterfly pulls we were giving away on this post. One of the new products we enjoyed debuting at the HD Expo was our classic Ergo collection now available in a warmer oil rubbed bronze as well as the always popular stainless steel model.  The contemporary and sensuous lines of this collection of door hardware takes on a different personality through the use of different metals.  This use of various mediums allows this style to freely travel between not only commercial and residential projects but in contemporary and more traditional locations as well.

Our Ergo door pull in a warmer oil rubbed bronze.  Photo by Martin Pierce Custom Hardware

Ergo collection of door hardware in contemporary stainless steel by Martin Pierce Hardware

What do you think--do you have a favorite metal?  To view our complete collection of custom hardware please visit our site at www.martinpierce.com