edited October 2014 in Tools and Supplies
IN doing some bedtime reading, and going through the Sturgeons Sawmill Instructions, Brett notes something about blackening products which is important. The Jax pewter blackener as we all know is the superior product now for blackening "white" metal details. However, the Jax Brass and Bronze blackener is surprisingly ineffective. The kit instructions note that Blacken-It is preferable for blackening things like bright brass wire while Jax is preferable for metal details. I guess it all depends on the allow. But I've found this to absolutely true- best to keep both the Jax blackener and Blacken-It on your alchemy shelf.

I'm also a fan of Weather-It. it is not a substitute for colouring wood but can help - I'm scratch building a structure which I found to be too lightly coloured after I had partially clad the walls (the stock is cedar not basswood). I used Weather-It to darken and grey the wood brushed on after assembly and looks great now. Of course, this will show any sloppy gluing!


  • Hey James, Thanks for the info. and research and I concur with the blackening issue as well. Ken
  • I have found a trick for brass wire and Blacken-it. I use steel wool or fine sandpaper on the wire first. Then install it and then blacken it. Works evenly and fast. Time will tell if leftover residue affects the color since it can't be thoroughly rinsed off.
  • edited October 2014
    Like you Bryan I also run brass wire or rod through some steel wool first before blackening.
    This cleans off any oxidation, finger oils or any other contaminate build up on the brass surface which could hinder the chemical reaction and prevent the blackener from coming into contact with the surface of the brass.
    A couple of quick swipes is usually all it takes to get a clean polished brass surface.
    I would liken this to using a flux to clean the surface area when welding or soldering. It's a good tip to use.

  • Yes good tip. I've tried soap and degreaser on bright brass parts like wire with Jax with little luck. The steel wool and Blacken-it work the best by far.
  • I understand that Jax Pewter Black doesn't work on brass. Blacken-It is suggested. However, I tossed my 25+ year old Blacken-It last year when it didn't work well for blackening metal castings for another kit I was building. I thought it had “gone off”.

    A good friend, who makes jewelry professionally, gave me a sample of Novacan Black Patina to try. It didn't seem to work as well as Jax on white metal, but works great on brass. Here are photos of various trials on brass, copper and lead/tin solder. The product is used extensively by stained glass workers for blackening solder as well as by jewelry makers.

    I did a quick trial to see how well it works on brass, copper and solder. Here are my results - not buffed, just wiped vigorously with a paper towel.

    Price is reasonable enough. Amazon Prime cost is about $9.00 for 8 oz. If you can find it locally, it will be about half that.


  • thanks for the info - looks very promising!
  • Thanks. Been having trouble with brass lately and have resorted to paint.
    Will order some on amazon when I get home.
  • whoa- that just might be the ticket! I use Blacken it for brass (that's all I use it for right now) and it works great but brass is always a bit fussy.
  • Very good information guys. I got the last two bottles of Blacken-it from a hobby shop that is now closed. I have contacted all places that might handle it but it was either don't stock it or never heard of it. I can't locate Jax neither and getting a little frustrated. I have found that Blacken-it will be effective on white metal when re-used over and over until it runs out but the parts have to be left in the solution for longer and brushed more to get the solution into the crevices. Getting it across the border has also been difficult too. If any members in BC have any suggestions I would certainly appreciate the help in acquiring any. Not a rush as I have been laid up and unable to work on any projects due to excessive pain problems for the last few months. To all of you, keep up with the great modelling you all do...David
  • David,
    Novacan is a BC company. I need to blacken my metal castings for the Line Side Shed that I'm starting. I'll do some in Novacan and compare to Jax.
    David U
  • Do you mean BC Canada? Jax is readily available in Vancouver. I buy it (pewter black, brass, aluminum, and nickel/ steel) retail from a jewelry store - best bet is a jewelry store. Ozark I think ships Pewter Black and Micro Mark will ship Blacken-it i think. Small bottles- they won't ship big bottles across the border.
  • BTW here's my experience with blackeners to date:
    * Blacken- IT: great for brass but Jax way better for white metal
    * Jax Pewter Black: awesome for white metal- nothing is better!
    * Jax Nickel/ Steel: absolutely awesome (but limited applications in this hobby)
    * Jax Aluminum: OK- easier to use than etchant - but not as cool- etchant is worth the effort if you can dispose of it responsibly…. yada yada
    * Jax Brass: not so much, use Blacken -it.
  • I meant to say "jewellery supply" stores i.e. suppliers for materials and equipment for jewellers…
  • James,
    Yes, BC Canada. The jewelry supply folks in your area may have Novacan as well. I think it is a Vancouver company. I'll try to do a test in the next few days and compare Novacan and Jax on white metal.

    David C,
    I misunderstood your post. I thought you were in Canada. Amazon has both Jax and Novacan and lists other suppliers.

    David U
  • David U and James
    Thanks for the info and David, I am in BC Canada.

    David C
  • Here is a comparison of Jax and Novacan for blackening white metal castings. I divided the metal detail castings in my Lineside Shed kit roughly in half. A few second dip in the solution, a minimal agitation with forceps, then into a water bath. Both solutions blackened quickly and both left a few “white spots”. I could have probably prevented them with a brush scrub, but I didn't do that. I'm not sure of the future of Blacken-It due to the tragic death of the owners of the company. Novacan may be a possible replacement.

    First Jax


    Now Novacan


    Then I buffed the larger castings with a felt wheel on the Dremel and a bristle brush for the smaller ones. I noticed that there was a slight color difference. At least to my non artistic eye, the Novacan gave a slightly rusty look while the Jax resulted in a more lustrous patina. See what you think.



    Also at the end of the blackening, there was a decided difference in the sediment in the bottom of the two solutions.



    I hope some of you with more experience than I will also try this solution as it seems to have promise – it certainly seems to do well on brass and lead/tin solder.

    David U

  • Thanks for the comparison, both results look like a good starting point for further work, the sedimentary issue is interesting.
  • Hi, I was watching some machining videos and the guy was Blackening some metal parts and he was using a chemical from Caswell Plating. It is the same stuff as Blacken it, but cheaper.


    Check out this video on YouTube:

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