How to I Clean/Polish Vintage Drawer Pulls?

valinsvJanuary 29, 2010

I have painted DD's 1940's highboy white and now want to clean/polish the pulls before installing. Does anyone have any recommendations what product to use?


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I'd remove them completely from the drawer (just remove the screws) and then use Brasso. Just a guess. Looking good! What paint did you use?


    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 8:47AM
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If they are brass I would use NevrDull. It is batting type stuff impregnated with an oily type polish. .I find it at hardware and HD type stores- it is sold in a metal can. An antique restorer recommended it to me and I have been using it for years.
The advantage is- it doesn't drip or get stuck in crevices. and it works great! You tear off chunks and use it to polish brass- nothing else needed.
I use it on my antique brass doorknobs I don't take them off and it gives a gentle soft polish.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 11:52AM
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I took my hepplewhite pulls completely off, used brasso to clean them, then used a spray poly to seal them, so I don't have to do it again. :0)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 12:18PM
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What kind of spray poly do you use? It sounds like a good solution to not having to polish so often.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 1:19PM
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I wouldn't use a spray poly, or any kind of sealer. It will cause them to tarnish unevenly. You want a nice all-over patina.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 1:23PM
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I used Krylon. I also have solid brass house numbers and haven't polished them in 19 years......since I coated them in poly! If something tarnishes, it means it's NOT sealed,it's exposed to air and water. Sealing keeps an item from tarnishing. Just do a good job. :0)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 1:38PM
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Brasso. Love Nicole's idea of using a sealer too.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 1:51PM
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I don't know if they are brass or not--unless it's a white brass? They have a silver finish--like a nickel or stainless steel. Not sure if it's tarnish or crud build up. What type of metals were typical during that time period--1040's?

If so, can I still use the Brasso or NevrDull? I'm not so sure if I want to spray poly on them or not.

As for paint for my highboy, I used the Stain Impervo by Benjamin Moore. It's working really well so far--though for my painting ability I find it best to work in sections. Hopefully will be done later today so I can clean the pulls and put them back on.

Will be sure to post finished pics in a couple of days.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 1:55PM
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Opps sorry for the type-O's!

I mean 1940's and Satin Impervo.

Back to painting and then HD.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 1:58PM
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I bought a 40's - 50's Penn House cherry hutch that had nice heavy brass pulls, but they were so dull and crummy. I have a lot of polishes because I collect antique metalware and sometimes there's no avoiding cleaning certain pieces. Maas, Brasso, Weiman's, Hagerty to name a few. Nothing cleaned them. Finally I was at the grocery store and saw Twinkle cleaner. Never heard of it, so tried it. Worked like a charm, and they came out with that nice warm look of heavy vintage brass.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 2:01PM
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Given the age of the piece, my hunch is that the pulls are all brass. (Check by using a magnet. If it pulls, you have some other metal there.)

In terms of refinishing the brass, I have done (and HAVE HAD done) a lot of brass over the years. My favorite approach is to taken them to a metal refinisher and have them do it! I have had brass refinished to patinas ranging from oiled rubbed bronze (almost black) to a bright shiny brass. In my neck of NorCal, the place I go to is Mac the Antique Plumber. I bet you could call them for a local rec.

In terms of DIY, I have had luck with many brass cleaners, but not with home applied lacquers. (They haven't lasted or worse, end up streaky after a few months). Thus, I would either hire the job out, find a lacquer that really does work on metal,or just clean the knobs and let them slowly lose their luster (which isn't a problem per se, but does change the appearance.)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 12:11PM
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Below is a link I posted on another thread. It has great info on cleaning Brass.
Taken from it is this quote: 'Also, if you polish your brass every single week with acidic compounds, the copper can leach out of the alloy (brass is an alloy of copper and zinc), and the blue-green verdigris can develop more quickly than usual.'

Here is a link that might be useful: Cleaning Brass

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 2:47PM
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