Darkening Aluminum?

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.


Darth Elevator

New Member
Hi all,

I'm trying to see if there is any way to make the unfinished Aluminum you find on many unpainted hilts to look darker while still looking clean. Almost like a steel look. I've seen suggestions on using Aluminum Black or other dark paint, and while it gives it a weathered look with personality and the type of definition and "lived in" look you want when weathering, it still looks like weathered aluminum. The lighter tone of the aluminum still comes through (though open to tips if there are ways to achieve what I want with this method).

In a way, I'm essentially looking for how to just make the shade of metal darker all around. Not a perfect example but just for a visual on the shade changes I'm thinking of, the image below kind of gives an idea of what shade I'm trying to get. From the "brighter" gray on the clamp to a darker shade seen on the emitter while still looking "clean".

Does anyone know of any techniques I can use? Are there any oils or processes that can make aluminum look like this?

Color Example.jpg
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Jediseth

Well-Known Member
You can mix aluminum black with a ratio of water mixed in and submerge the part and let it soak. This should make the finish consistent and it might give you the look your looking for. Maybe 1 part Aluminum black 2 parts water might do it. Standard darkening is 1:1 ratio. You might want to test the ratio with a spare part and you might need to go heavy on water or heavy on AB depending. After I’d clear coat the part.
 

BobaFettSlave_1

Sr Member
Oh, interesting. The Aluminum Black has a nice effect, but it's just too dark so this sounds very promising. I'll give it a try.

Thank you!
Yeah really that's your only cheap option short of getting stuff plated or maybe playing around with transparent black paint. Side by side though the color difference between Steel and Aluminum is night and day, same for Stainless
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

BobaFettSlave_1

Sr Member
I had considered this also, but I thought I'd check if there were other suggested methods. I think I'll give both a test and see what might work.
Tamiya makes an excellent transparent black called “Smoke”. Its my go-to for darkening up colors on helmets and such. Has a bit of a shine to it too. Could be worth giving a shot. Not sure how well it’ll stick to metals so clean with a degreaser and such first
 

ID10T

Sr Member
Short of anodizing I think that smoke stuff or window tinting spray could be tried.

If it’s a round part, spin it in a lathe or drill and spray from a ways back to get a very even coating. Seal that down when you’re happy and then use washed to bring out the detail and dirt if you want to add dirt.
 

James Kenobi 1138

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I was thinking some people were using spray oven cleaner to darken their aluminum Luke ROTJ V3 sabers. IIRC you spray it on, wait, wash/dry, and then you can use steel wool to even out and lighten the tone if needed.

Also, unless I'm mistaken Graflex clamps are plated rolled steel, not aluminum.
 

Darth Elevator

New Member
I was thinking some people were using spray oven cleaner to darken their aluminum Luke ROTJ V3 sabers. IIRC you spray it on, wait, wash/dry, and then you can use steel wool to even out and lighten the tone if needed.

Also, unless I'm mistaken Graflex clamps are plated rolled steel, not aluminum.

That's what I was looking for. Different methods people have tried that may achieve this effect. I'm willing to tinker around with these different ones on some test aluminum to see which might get the desired effect. Thanks for the suggestion.

As for the clamp, I figured this was steel but it has the brigther tone next to a dark tone steel, which is the difference I'm trying to achieve. So this was more about showing an example of the coloring change I was trying to get. As I've tried to darken the aluminum, my current methods just turned more into a nice looking weathered effect that looked aged/used, but the hilt still had the lighter gray shade to it.
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

TazMan2000

Master Member
asavage wrote that A-380 Insta-blak was used on his Samaritan gun build, but the blackness easily wore off leaving a worn or weathered look.

Here is a video where a guy uses a product called Aluminum Black with very nice results.

TazMan2000
 

woodywaverider

New Member
I use the Birchwood Casey aluminium black, after it's blacked for light weathering I hit it with a scotch brite pad and repeat to build layers. For heavier weathering I clear coat it first then go to wire wool. After that I apply a burnt sienna wash to specific area with q-tips. I'm sure there are better ways, and I'm always looking for different technique to try.
 

Derelict Ghost

New Member
All of these methods look pretty good but none really have an even natural looking coat to the finish. I really want to crack this nut before I pull the trigger on Fieldmarshal’s Mando blaster. I appreciate everyone’s input.
 

Collectorchris

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I think aluminum black is your best option for trying to synthesize a gunmetal blue or parkerized finish on aluminum. That's exactly what it is for. IAs said above, you will want to do it in layers, scotch bright and layer until you get the depth of effect your looking for. Play with it on some scrap aluminum to figure out the technique that works for your project.
 

newmagrathea

Sr Member
Darker or more of a used look? I use oven cleaner to dull the metal and give it a used look. Wear big rubber gloves, goggles, and a mask while putting it on. Spray it on, let it sit for 5 minutes, rinse with cold water. Repeat, I usually do 3 times. If you want the metal dark, aluminium black will make it black, you can try knocking it back with steel wool. Paint, make a wash with some black paint thinned down. I also have heard something about putting aluminium parts in a dishwasher, but I've never done it myself.
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Darth Elevator

New Member
Darker or more of a used look?

Darker. I'm trying to keep the same look but a shade or two darker. A few different methods have produced a nice weathered look so far, but trying to just change the shade while keeping the same look has been far more difficult to figure out.
 
Last edited:

newmagrathea

Sr Member
Darker. I'm trying to keep the same look but a shade or two darker. A few different methods have produced a nice weathered look so far, but trying to just change the shade while keeping the same look has been far more difficult to figure out.
I just looked up the conversation I had about darkening up an aluminum part and I was told that they ran it through the dishwasher with soap. I saw the end result and it was darker than the other aluminum parts, but subtly so. You might give that a try. They used Cascade, but I'm sure any would work.
 

Pedro

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Most darkening fluids seem to weaken after some use. I tend to keep around some that’s somewhat “used up” for when I need a little lighter finish.
 

AnubisGuard

Sr Member
You can mix aluminum black with a ratio of water mixed in and submerge the part and let it soak. This should make the finish consistent and it might give you the look your looking for. Maybe 1 part Aluminum black 2 parts water might do it. Standard darkening is 1:1 ratio. You might want to test the ratio with a spare part and you might need to go heavy on water or heavy on AB depending. After I’d clear coat the part.

+1 on diluting aluminum black. I've done tests in the past with just a few drops of black in a container of water and it let me darken the metal by very small amounts quite slowly. The results can look really good.
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Top