Brass Hardware

As is common in houses of this age, a great deal of the original brass hardware has been painted over.  When Yvonne and I first looked at this house, one of the first things we noticed were the amazing brass key hole covers that were on both sides of all of the first floor doors. We searched high and low to find matches for them as these were too far gone.  No luck.  Nobody makes anything even similar.  So, we began the laborious task of restoring them.  This is what happened.

They started out looking like this:

We are not really sure how many layers of paint there were, but let's just say that it was a major effort just to get them off the door in tact.  Next, we had to carefully remove the paint.  This was another obstacle because we were afraid to use chemicals because it might damage the soft brass beneath.  The solution? Lestoil.  That's right good ol' Lestoil, the house hold cleaner works great.  We put the hardware in Ziplock bags, poured in a generous amount of Lestoil and allowed it to sit for a few days. The paint turns to goo and falls off.  Very nice.  This is what they looked like then:

These look silver?  Well, it turns out that they are indeed brass but have a nickel plating.  The bad news is that the plating has been badly oxidized over the years and cannot be saved.  Anyway, now onto the next problem.  In order to buff them on a polishing wheel, the two pieces need to be separated.  Unfortunately they were stamped together when they were made.  So each set had to have the post drilled off the back and grinded off on a grinding wheel.  Then they had to be very carefully drilled and tapped and a very tiny screw had to be made for each in order to re-attach the two halves.  This was a painstaking process, but worth the effort.


Now it was time to start buffing.  It took quite a long time to work through the remaining nickel plating and into the brass, but WOW! They looked amazing!  Soon, after completing the first couple pieces, Yvonne located a brass shop in Westfield that agreed to polish them out, and lacquer coat them to prevent tarnishing, for only $5.00 each!  We gladly dropped off the whole lot!  Now they look like this:

 It's nice to know that as each door gets restored, it will have the same hardware enjoyed by many for over a century.

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