plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
How to make wrinkle paint
@Joe Pettus: I've got a couple of Kxxxx toolboxes with wrinkle finish that I'd love to restore the finish on; is it possible to post photos of finishes you've achieved?Coyle Eric
- Calgary Alberta
July 19, 2022
Ed. note: Joe's posting was from 4 years ago. We'll ask him if he's willing to send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org for posting here if he's reachable :-)
Closely related historical posts, oldest first ...
Q. Hi -
I am looking for a commercially available additive or a recipe for one which I can use to convert standard oil-based enamel paint into a coating which will produce a "wrinkle" finish when dry. My requirement stems from a current project of restoring vintage military electronics equipment. The metal cases are finished with a wrinkle paint, Olive Drab in color. I know that wrinkle paint is currently available, but not in this color.
I understand that the mechanism for obtaining this finish is the rapid drying of the paint surface relative to the under layer. This causes the surface to wrinkle up and produce the desired texture.
It has been suggested that I simply use an available wrinkle color and then lightly overspray with the appropriate top color, however I would use this method only as a last resort, since I would like the restoration to be as close to original as possible. Using an additive with commercially available paint would permit me to obtain the correct color match and then convert the paint to the wrinkle type via the additive.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
Q. Hi Bill Henn! I don't have anything to add yet, but I'm on the same search of wrinkle paint "inner workings" in order to restore old family photographic lenses and equipment. I'll appreciate if I can participate on this "quest". Thanks, MarcosMarcos Brandao
- Brasilia, Brazil
A. Don't wrinkle your face! Help is on the way wrinkle wonderers. There are a number of ways to create a wrinkle finish. It depends on how wrinkled you wish to go.
First, you can prime and then spray with a commercially available products that produces a sandstone effect that is subsequently finished over with a final color.
Secondly, one may use a suede catalyst in a polyurethane final coat.
Lastly,there is a product in the automotive painting industry that is called rocker chutes. This is added to a spraying system in varying degrees for effect. The trick is to test the effect on scrap pieces with the distance away from the surface you're spraying. Further away will give you more "splatter to the matter".
- Phoenix, Arizona
A. I accidentally found a way to produce a beautiful wrinkle finish using the cheapest spray paint I could find.
After I cleaned the part by sandblasting, I had to give it about 6 coats of paint to get it to look half decent. This was a direct result of buying CHEAP paint. I let it dry for about half an hour, then baked it in an oven at 125 °C for about 2 hours. When I took it out, it had the greatest wrinkle finish on it I had ever seen!
At first I was disappointed in it, but then decided to do the rest of the parts I was painting that color the same way. Worked great for me!
Q. I am looking for a good wrinkle finish too. Talked to a supplier last year. They said they use silicone to help the wrinkle. This is not a crinkle or spatter finish but more like excessive orange peel effect.
I need a good black and a dove gray. The product now available does not work as well.
My application is old telescope restorations.
Has anyone come up with a fix?
Q. Hi Wrinkle Fans,
I too am looking for the magic wrinkle recipe. I restore old electronic equipment, particularly old General Radio Corp. test equipment. Their early black and dark gray finishes have an unusual quality, not a fine wrinkle, but large irregular flat areas about a tenth of an inch in diameter, with lower height lines separating them. Hard to describe, but not a fine wrinkle. I believe it was chemical, since the wrinkle extends around the edges of the panels. It wouldn't if they used a texture screen or mechanical means. How how how did they do this. Since they used this finish from the '30s to the '60s or later, it couldn't have been any great secret. An additive? Baking? Some special spray technique? Help!
- Canandaigua, New York
Q. I too am looking to find a good resource of wrinkle paint. I can find black, brown or grey, but I'm looking for Ferrari red to finish some automotive under-hood items. I know that powder coating companies can do this in almost any color you want, but they charge an arm and a leg for it. There has to be a formula or something out there.Micajah Smithson
- Laguna Niguel, California
A. I called a paint company and talked to a chemist. He said that Tung Oil [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] encourages wrinkling because the mid-layer of paint does not dry as fast as the top. Wrinkling is caused by uneven drying between the substrate, mid, and outer layer of the paint film.Mark Peterson
- San Diego, California
Q. When I was living in the states I restored a 67 Datsun Roadster. The dash need repainting and I found a spray paint the wrinkled to produce the original effect. I wish I could remember the name of the product as it was a few years ago. I recently wanted the effect for another hobby and have not been able to find anything except blank looks from the local auto stores.Joe Alferoff
- Newport, South Wales
A. I bought a wrinkle finish at pep boys; it says wrinkle finish and is only available in black, but I wish it were available in redDaniel Andrews
A. I have used a very nice wrinkle finish paint in the past that was manufactured by a company in Milwaukee, WI. I used it for painting fiberglass gunstocks. One of the colors that they sold was Olive drab used for camo! You might want to contact Brownells [affil. link by editor] who specialize in gunsmith supplies. You might also try some of the gunstock companies like McMillan or Browns of California.Perry Hughey
A. First to Conrad Hoffman of Canandaigua, NY, the finish you're describing sounds like a hammertone finish which can be obtained at most hardware stores that sell spray paint.
For those of you looking to wrinkle finish anything metal, I've done quite a bit of wrinkle finish on many types of objects and in a variety of colors. I'm an automotive restorer/painter dealing in vintage/classic/cars/racecars.
Here's an outline, you spray the wrinkle finish first, get good coverage and after it takes a "set" have the top coat color of your choice ready, and spray it on top. Do not wait for the wrinkle finish to "wrinkle dry" to spray the top coat color - if you do, it won't look right.
- San Francisco, California
Q. I am restoring several aftermarket automotive heaters and have been looking for wrinkle finish paint in colors other than black. An article in an old Peterson publication mentioned wrinkle finish paint but I have been unable to locate this company. It is possible the company has gone out of business or sold to another company and the name has disappeared. The article indicated that about half a dozen colors were available.David Ledo
- St Paul, Minnesota
A. In the old days wrinkle finishes were made from Tung Oil [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] and a specific blend of metal based driers containing cobalt, manganese and zinc. This is still the best way to get this finish. If you can't get the exact color you want from your supplier you should buy the paint and take it to a industrial paint supplier. The paint could be tinted to most any color using enamel grade tint paste. To get other wrinkle finishes is a hit and miss operation usually based on the luck of getting just the right film thickness and drying conditions to cause the surface to dry at a different rate than the center of the film. One could contact a chemical company and ask for a sample of a tung oil alkyd. Thin that material with mineral spirits and have it tinted to the required color. Wrinkle away fans...Steve Nisewander
A. Wrinkle finish (black) is available in spray cans. I bought some at a store who specializes in obsolete parts for MG - Triumph and other British sports cars. When I was looking for this product a local drugstore had a product to add to the paint but it seemed quite fuzzy to do. Hope this info will help. Maserati still uses red wrinkle finish to paint some engine parts.Jean de Barsy
- Antwerp, Belgium
A. I too had a hard time finding a wrinkle paint. I finally asked the local body shop for it and they made a phone call and had it delivered to me the next day. I now have 6 spray cans of Jet Black Wrinkle Finish. I don't know yet how well it works or if it is available in different colors. It exists because I am looking at a can of it right now. I fabricate radio consoles and mounts for my fleet of police vehicles.Terry Daubenspeck
- Carson, Washington
Q. To Terry D: you state you have six cans of krinkle paint but you don't know if it works. What is the name of the company that is shown on said cans??Tom Smith
- Broadview Hts., Ohio
February 26, 2012
Q. I have been using Black Wrinkle Paint for Fiberglass Gun Stocks, sold in 12 oz. spray cans. It is only available in black.
What I need is a source for a good wrinkle paint in a medium to darker gray, a forest green and maybe a darker brown. It would be nice to find in bulk to spray out of a gun.
Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
- New Salem, Pennsylvania
A. To get a wrinkle finish, you can spray a base coat of lacquer paint with an over coat of enamel (it think that is the order but it may be the other way around). The solvent in the enamel causes the lacquer to dissolve, as the enamel tries to dry, the surface tension pull stretches, but the underlying layer is liquid and allows it to bunch, or wrinkle. This is the same method that was used on Atwater Kent Radio Equipment in the 20s. For those who play with this old equipment, you'll notice the valleys in the paint are darker while the surface paint is brown or gold, this is due to the black lacquer underneath.Michael Miller
A. Those of you looking for brown wrinkle paint should try the manufacturers of machinists toolboxes. I believe they have touchup paint available.Bill Bourdon
- Labadie, Missouri
Q. I'm also looking for the brown wrinkle paint and was told today by the toolbox company that the EPA will not allow them to sell the wrinkle touch up paint for their tool box. They now powder coat their boxes. Where to now?Leo Roberson
- Williamson, Georgia
A. I have experienced exactly the same problem as all you great guys out there, when looking for a supplier of dark-green wrinkle paint.
Over and over I got the same depressing answer "I'm sorry sir, but this product went out of production more than thirty years ago"
There might after all be hope for all of us, as I just spoke to the owner of a very old paint manufacturing company, which is in fact still making black wrinkle paint.
I asked him if he would be able to make other colors than black, and he said that he could possibly make a transparent wrinkle paint, which would allow buyers to tone it exactly to their specific needs.
He told me, that if it will be possible for him to make a transparent wrinkle paint, I was bound to buy at least 300 liters. I'm posting this, in order to get an idea of how many of you guys out there that are interested in buying customized wrinkle paint colors. Suggested retail price would be around $25-30 per liter.
If you are looking for a specific color in wrinkle paint, which is no longer available, let me know and I will see what I can do.
- Aarhus, Denmark
A. Hi all. Getting paint to wrinkle with automotive paint, as described before, is easy. spray on lacquer paint first let dry 5-10 minutes then spray on your desired top coat color with enamel paint. What happens, is the lacquer paint dries from the inside out, and the enamel paint dries from the outside in. When the two meet it causes the two to react. (almost, if not instantaneous) Hope that helps.
Painting, and baking with enamel works well too. While still relatively wet, place the part under a heat source, such as a heat lamp, or an old oven works well too. For some of you with sensitive camera, or telescope equipment, this won't be an option for you. You'll have to use the lacquer/enamel method. Do some test panels first, play around with varying dry times (for both lacquer and enamel), and paint film thickness's to get different degree's of wrinkle. Once you have settled on a formula that works, apply that to your project piece. Happy wrinkling.
By the way, some of the "hammer tone" paints use silicone in the paint mix. Paint won't stick to silicone, it will separate from it like the plague, this causes the paint to crater as it separates from the particles of silicone, resulting in a "hammered" look.
- Chester, Illinois
A. I understand that spraying two coats of enamel, with a time lag in between, using different reducers may also create the wrinkle effect. In other words, first coat with a slow reducer, second with a fast reducer. This is also probably one reason why spray can products are so hard to work with; the necessary ingredients cannot be combined in one mixture.Geoff Fors
- Monterey, California
A. Regarding the use of "toolbox brown" wrinkle finish, it IS available in single spray cans directly from the toolbox manufacturer. I tried it in restoring an antique Atwater Kent radio and one of my toolboxes. Turns out it doesn't exactly match the color of my toolbox and is an almost abrasive-feeling texture, not the wrinkle effect. The original toolbox finish may be a powder coat as suggested in a previous post.Dave Allen
- Cincinnati, Ohio
Q. I am in a group for a car building project and we were suggested to use crinkle paint and wanted a little more info than we could get and any info any of you can give us will be most appreciated. Thanks for all your inputs.Andrew Hagle
- Bad Axe, Michigan
Q. Well, I have one for you and judging by the time in between responses I won't hold my breath. I am restoring an antique Brunswick "Challenger" pool table. It was built in 1939. It is made of wood but it has a (you guessed it) wrinkle finish. So has anyone reproduced a wrinkle finish on wood before?Tom Fraley
- Rochester, New York
A. I have been an auto body tech for about 27 years, if you want a wrinkle effect apply several coats of enamel letting each coat flash about 20 minutes but not set hard, then spray with clear lacquer. Each coat of clear wait about 10 minutes between coats to get the wrinkle effect you want, I also play around with old radio equipment and this works well for me.Jack E.Smith
- McKeesport, Pennsylvania
A. I once sprayed a set of oak cabinets that already had been finished. I used latex in an airless sprayer. I sprayed on way to much paint so I took a roller and rolled it to keep it from running and it came out with a real heavy wrinkled effect. Probably resulting from the heavy nap roller I used. For a finer wrinkle maybe a lighter nap roller could be used. This only works for wood products.Leonard LaBerta
- Dickinson, Texas
Q. Did you ever find a wrinkle finish for your Brunswick? I am working on a Liberty now.Brenden E Harvey
- EMPIRE [Colorado, pop. 345?]
October 15, 2021
Q. I was wondering where I could find some in a purple-ish Blue I've seen it on a Honda but I haven't found any.where can I buy some.I would greatly appreciate it if someone had the answer . . .Christopher Sexton
- Birmingham, Alabama
Q. Hi. I would like to know if a wrinkle paint in black is commercially available here in the Philippines.
Would need to get this for my director who wants to restore film cameras.
- Makati City, Philippines
March 9, 2008
A. I personally contacted the company that makes Kennedy toolboxes, which have the brown wrinkle finish on them. I'm restoring my thirty-six (36) year old machinist chest. The lady kindly told me that the wrinkle finish they used back then has been replaced by a newer process which is "proprietary" and they cannot sell any of this product, period. If I wish I can ship my tool box back to the factory and they will re-finish it for me. The quoted pricing was way too high. FIYDavid Chatman
hobbyist - Albany, Georgia
A. Hi guys,
I read your messages with great interest.
Many of you looking for wrinkled finishing and many giving interesting answers. After many hard researches I found an Italian company that produces the wrinkled effect. In their site,
they published some colors; I called them because I wanted a brown color and they made it for me; they told me they can create every color. I don't know if this is true but I'm sure they made the one I requested. Take a tour in their website, maybe you can find what you are looking for. Denis
- Treviso, Italy
Ed. note July 2022: That page is now Error 404, and the site is in Italian, so we don't know if they still carry wrinkle paint.
A. Wrinkling occurs because the base coat dries slower that the topcoat. A simple way to get this effect is apply one coat of a oil base primer that uses mineral spirits as a clean up solvent. Wait a few hours, or until the primer is slightly tacky, and then apply the color of your choice that is available in a aerosol. Make certain the aerosol completely covers the primerNick Nickelsen
- OKC, Oklahoma
A. to get a wrinkle effect with paint, you need to speed dry the flash point.
Acetone [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]works best, this low flash point thinner makes the coat dry rapid (seconds), unlike dragging paint which uses high flash rate thinners which gives you a longer time to play with the material (mins). the more thinner the more desired effect.
if you can't find an acetone thinner try nail varnish remover, though not easily available in big quantities.
this is an acetone, notice the thinner evaporates very quickly,
if mixed with paint the paint separates as the thinners evaporates. if using paint from an aerosol get the thinner on a rag + wipe over the product first but be quick to spray the object before the thinners disappears.
clearcoat - Manchester, England
A. the company is "Plasti-kote". the UPC is "071915002175". practice with it a few times to get used to it. trust me, follow the directions. you can find it at auto parts stores. they used it on hearse's, engines, or just a spray on vinyl. this is not bedliner spray-on. it has a definite texture.Seth rose
- Atlanta, Georgia
A. Black wrinkle spray paint information can be obtained from the Plasti-Kote website www.plastikote.com in the Automotive section.
Dealer locations can also be obtained from this web page by zip code lookup.
I can't find any dealers that stock it in Northern Nevada, but there are some dealers in California that stock it. Alternatively, it can be ordered through Amazon .
- Reno, Nevada
A. Wrinkle finish spray paint is available from VHT in Black or Red. It is available online .
. . . or through most auto parts stores.
It looks amazing when finished and cannot tell the difference between the OEM wrinkle finish on my valve cover from the new wrinkle finish applied D-I-Y. Just follow the instructions for curing. Perfect for Ferrari guys or anyone else that needs an OEM quality wrinkle finish for whatever your project may be.
- Long Beach, California
A. For everyone looking for a red wrinkle finish, search VHT Wrinkle plus! .
They have red and black finishes that I know of for sure! hope this helps!
- Vancouver B.C., Canada
A. A wrinkle paint that works well is an italian product used by Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini to paint engines parts.
The manufacturer is Univer Sokema.
A. Illinois Bronze was the company that made different colors of spray wrinkle paint cans. The company was purchased by Sherwin Williams I believe. The stuff from the auto parts stores works well if you put it on as the instructions say-fairly heavy-then bake it, but not too hot, maybe 100-125 °F. Then as time goes by, it does harden up, just takes a while. Small parts finish pretty nicely, not the best for big parts.John Todd
- Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
A. I restore old pressed steel toys. One of my projects was a thirties tricycle in carmine red. (Where are the beautiful reds of yore!).
My problem was that the tricycle seat was the same color as the tricycle but wrinkle finished. I used oil based enamel for the job. Fortunately, I found a quick and easy solution.
After dip-painting the seat I "baked" it for about twenty minutes at about 140 °F. After cooling, I sprayed the seat with auto lacquer thinner with an air brush. I got my wrinkle finished seat!
You can experiment with the above process to meet your particular circumstances.
- Chicago, Illinois
A. This is to everyone looking for ways to "wrinkle" finish auto, electronic and other metal parts. Here are a couple of links to people who have followed the directions on the can of paint and successfully obtained a wrinkle finish.
This second one is dealing with electronic enclosures which are usually aluminum:
If the material is sheet steel then I think you can safely omit the zinc primer.
Here is another one from someone who refinished antique appliances.
Good luck everyone.
- Trufant, Michigan, USA
A. I have a hard time spraying paint without it wrinkling. I get too anxious for the paint job to be completed. Using enamel paint, I paint the whole job with one coat of paint that is enough to cover without running, then as soon as I get done I start all over again. Wake up the next morning and instant wrinkle finish.John Deming
- Houston, Texas, USA
A. There is one trick I know works, but which I have never tried personally. You will need one NON FLAMMABLE BOX with ventilation holes on the bottom and top large enough to hold the part you want to paint. Apply one generous coat of paint on the surface and then place a heating element (like one or more light bulbs) to gently heat the air inside the box but far away from the part.This will dry the outer skin quicker than the inside layer and give a wrinkle finish for a fraction of the price of the spray cans. It should be like this until fully dried. The heat amount will define the effect you get.
PS1: This was made by my Grandfather to restore photographic equipment and he usually did it with candles but you'd better make on the safe side and keep the flames away.
PS2: If you spray one fresh paint coating with water and let it to dry you can get a cool ripple effect. The finer the spray drops the finer the ripple. This I've tried and it works.
- Lisbon, Portugal
A. You may use DCO based short oil alkyd (60%)about 47% and 2% black and remaining Xylol and 0.5% cobalt octoate and 0.2% manganese octoate. Spray application and the coated panels to be packed at 120 degrees for 1 hour. You can get wrinkle finish. If you want olive drab color add 2% yellow oxide.SEENIDURAI PANNEER
A. When I was a kid I wanted to finish an electronics case with black paint.It was very cold weather and the metal was very cold.And the spray can warns not to spray under 50 °F but I sprayed in much below that maybe even 32 °F.Well what a surprise it dried to a wrinkle finish.But it was wrinkle with large areas of flat and wrinkle borders.Very attractive.I have never tried to repeat this effort. For God sakes don't try this on a valuable piece try on similar scrap material.George Farnsworth
- point roberts, Washington,usa
February 26, 2015
A. Hammertone paint can be prepared by adding an additive to a can of enamel.
The ingredients are the following and the percentages are ONLY indicative.
24% silicone oil
When you have a litre of this additive you only need a very small amount to be added to the enamel. Needless to say, you should make a few samples and experiment with the result. The beauty of the additive is that you can now make hammertone in any colour enamel.
This additive can also be used to hammertone water based paints but the additive must be added to the pigment paste at the manufacturing stage.
- Sydney, NSW Australia
February 22, 2017
A. This has been solved …
If you want a wrinkle paint and you want it to look like the brown tool box we all know and love (no names), simply add a mix in some boiled linseed oil and a little tung oil. Then add some japan dryer to the mix and I add about 2-1/4 shot glass to a 1/2 qt of what I mix up. Then (I live in Vegas) if small enough part I'll hang it in the sun. Most times I spray down my slab the dust is not bad and spray it. Let settle; it won't take but one good coat, heavy like a primer -- and don't touch it, let it soak in the sun as long as possible. This takes a few days to start drying. You can start seeing wrinkles in a few hrs but they don't get tight like we seen in the old tool box paint until a few days in the drying. And when it does cure and finish hardening it's some great tough paint I mixed with rust paint we all have used and know but no names again. Play with said mixture for your liking. This was after a few dozen attempts with other additives, lacquer and enamel which failed to imitate what I was matching and just tung oil. Had some luck but the boiled linseed, tung and jap dryer mixed like the punch at the New Years party we don't remember how we made it home from (strong jap dryer) worked and has for several overhauled boxes.
Engineer - Las vegas Nevada USA
June 21, 2018
A. I have been restoring old antique slot machines made in the 1940s and back for 40 some years. Several companies used to make a half dozen colors but that was back before Moses grew his first beard or Jesus showed up. But necessity is the mother of invention. Once you have a good wrinkle on your surface by applying 3 very even coats about 2 minutes apart with no build up on the edges, etc., let it dry in the sun.
Then dust with a silver or Krylon light gray. Something that dries fast and changes the color to a light finish. Once it is gray or silver, start adding the color you like. Reds are crud but blues, yellows, and greens are great. Antique gold by True Value or Ace Hardware is fantastic. And of course the gray or silver is good also. But reds are ugly for some reason so use the VHT "Wrinkle Plus" currently on the market. I have not tried it in red but the black works great if 3 even coats as I said and left to dry in the hot sun or under a heat lamp for just a few minutes. I live in Las Vegas which is an asset but just pick a hot day where you are with lots of sun. A warm room, no.Paulie Romano
- Las Vegas, Nevada U.S.A
July 21, 2019
A. Book on wrinkle finishes:
Download free expired US wrinkle finish patent: https://archive.org/stream/us_patent_2600818/us_patent_2600818_djvu.txt
Hope it helps and good luck!
- Zagreb ,Croatia
October 23, 2019