That said, not all flat-head wood screws are equal. The typical shiny zinc coating they often have is nothing short of a farby eyesore. To hardcore up your screws:
- Soak them in hydrogen peroxide (or muriatic acid found at hardware stores) for 30 minutes to an hour or until the peroxide dissolves the zinc coating off.
- Drain peroxide and rinse thoroughly with water.
- Soak screws in baking powder and water solution to neutralize any remaining acids. The amounts don't really matter.
- Dry and they are now iron and ready to use. However, if screws are left un-oiled after peroxide treatment, they will rust lightening fast. This aging and patina may be a great addition to your impression however, if you want period rust protection continue:
- In a pre-heated oven (350 or so) heat your screws for about 10 minutes or so. You can also use a propane torch or carefully use MAPP gas.
- Then, outside in a well ventilated area, drop your screws into a bowl of linseed oil or motor oil or that protected, blacksmith-y look and feel.
- Carefully remove the hot screws with something other than your bare fingers, allow to cool, dry, and put to use!
You can use this treatment on any zinc coated metals such as brackets or hinges for that period-correct finish.