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How to Clean Varnish + Tarnish from Old Hardware

Ha -that title was making me think of a whole bunch of words finishing in --nish, it was going something like: refinish brownish hardwarish with lots of varnish and tarnish so it can garnish the danish furnish-ings...  :)

So, yeah, this post is about how to vanish varnish and tarnish (here I go again), from brass hardware.

My last post was about how to remove the varnish from the wood. Thanks so much for all your kind words. You're the best. ;)

But, if the wood look sad, the pulls were crying out loud for having all that ugly stuff on them. Really. Who in their right mind finishes a piece of furniture without removing the hardware or at least trying to cover them with tape!

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Since I was already working with these chemicals and they were working so well...

I simply plopped the hardware in the same solution of 50% Lacquer Thinner and 50% Acetone. This picture below is after being in the liquid for the second time.

The first time I put them in the mix, I forgot to take them out. The next day, they were almost dry, and the solution evaporated. The picture below shows how they looked, even darker!

Once back into a new, clean solution, it only took about 30 minutes. I used a toothbrush and 4/0 steel wool pad to help get rid of the dark stuff.

This is how they looked after cleaning them with the lacquer/acetone mix.

Some looked better than others.

The next step was to use Brasso - that's what I already had at home- I gave this task to Mr. RLC.

After about 20 minutes he gave them back to me looking like this:

I was happy at how the diamond pieces looked, but I wasn't completely sold on the pulls. The flat fronts were OK but the little crevices and inverted corners were dull.

I search online for other ways to clean or restore brass and it was all around the net: Bar Keepers Friend. A powder you mix with water to rub off the tarnish. 

I tried to go the more I could into all those tiny nooks and crannies.

Compared to the before the result is outstanding. The pulls looks clean, not new, just the perfect way to accentuate the sideboard.

Both products -Brasso and Bar Keepers Friend- did a great job. However, I recommend Bar Keepers Friend, the price for the amount you get is a steal, it did a slightly better job, and best of all you can also use it to clean stainless steel sinks, old pans, pots, and even the bathtub! And hey, no, this is not a sponsored post.

The ferrules were also cleaned.

If you only need to get rid of tarnish, Bar Keepers Friend is the only product you'll need.

Love the difference!

For the Sideboard restoration click HERE

Enjoy what you read today?



  1. You really did justice to this piece. I can't believe how beautiful it turned out and so much care into the hardware. Well actually I can believe it as you are the female Norm Abrams!

  2. bar keepers friend works great on white kitchen sinks and glass stovetop. your projects are amazing and I so enjoy your blog. thanks for doing the blog.

    1. I just tried today on my kitchen sink and yeah, it did a great job! Thanks for your sweet words Joanne!

  3. You've done an amazing job with this piece!

  4. That really is a gorgeous piece, and I wasn't crazy about the stripped hardware, but on that piece it is perfect since you brought it back to how it looked on Day 1. Just Gorgeous!

  5. I love this pieces and how it turned out. Beautiful

  6. Yo por acá también utilizó el brasso para limpiar platería y bronce ,, me gusto también la idea de limpiar la punta de las patas , jamás las he limpiado y se Nora otra cosa

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