I recently refinished a mid century dresser that has some hardware in need of some polishing. Polishing up vintage hardware may sound like hard work, but if you have the right products to help you it’s quite simple and doesn’t take a whole lot of time. I was polishing 6 medium sized round pulls and 6 small knobs for the piece I was working on, and I was able to finish them all in under 15 minutes. It goes much faster when you aren’t trying to film a video, trust me.
1. Strip the hardware – Most hardware comes with a lacquer coat (especially campaign hardware) which is meant to keep the brass from tarnishing overtime. If your hardware has a lacquer coat and you don’t strip it you could be polishing for hours. I’ve also had painted hardware or hardware with painted areas that needed to be stripped before I could begin polishing. To strip hardware I put all of the knobs and pulls into a small container and used my go-to stripping product, Citristrip. Use an old brush to make sure all surfaces of the hardware are covered in the stripping product and then let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
2. Rinse – after you have waited for the stripper to do its thing, take the hardware and rinse it off with water. Make sure to get all the stripping product out of any crevices in the hardware.
3. Polish – Bar Keeper’s Friend is the only product I have tried that really works to clean off the years of build-up grime and tarnish. It polishes brass so nicely and while I have not used it on other metals (yet) it is suitable for many different finishes. I use the powder Bar Keeper’s Friend and mix it with water in a small bowl to create a paste but it also comes in a soft cleaner. The other tool you need is a sponge. I use the scrubby side to polish up that hardware. Get all areas of the hardware that will be visible once it is attached back onto the furniture or cabinetry.
4. Dry – Once the piece of hardware is all polished, rinse it off with clean water and then use a soft cloth to dry each piece. Don’t let any water sit on the pieces as this will leave water marks which will need to be buffed off later.
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Have a great week