How to remove paint from and polish vintage/antique door knobs

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As the most successful architectural salvage company in the United States, we often find beautiful antique and vintage doorknobs that have been, tragically, painted over. One of our main challenges is removing the paint without damaging the hardware. Using a solvent like paint thinner could damage the metal and ruin the look of the hardware. Removing paint, lacquer, or other deposits from antique metals is one of the main questions we receive from our customers. Luckily, cleaning and restoring those vintage doorknobs is much easier than you might think. All you need is an old pot you’re ready to get rid of, some hot water, and a few simple ingredients that you most likely have laying around in your kitchen.

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To get that paint off your vintage pieces, simply fill your old pot with water and bring the water to a gentle boil. Then you can carefully drop your doorknobs in or place them carefully in the pot using a pair of grilling tongs, and after a few minutes, the paint should begin to come right off. The sludge left behind in the pot will be pretty disgusting, and it’s best not to reuse the pot for cooking once you’re done. After boiling, you should be able to easily wipe or gently scrape away any remaining paint. Be sure to wear gloves, and avoid touching the metal with your bare hands! It’s HOT! As an additional bonus, this method will usually also remove any lacquer that has been used on the doorknobs. These now de-lacquered metals will be an excellent choice to use in areas such as laundry rooms, bathrooms, or other more humid areas of your home.

While many homeowners prefer the patina on older metal doorknobs, some homeowners are looking for a more polished look. Vintage metals can look fantastic when restored to their original bright shine, particularly brass. Polishing antique brass door hardware without scratching or otherwise damaging the surface is a concern of many homeowners, and we often get asked what can be done to polish up these beautiful pieces. Unfortunately, many modern methods and suggestions for cleaning can damage doorknobs that are only plated metal. Luckily, there are gentler methods that are easy to mix right in your own kitchen.

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Before cleaning your antique hardware, you can mix up your own gentle brass cleaner with a small amount of equal parts flour, salt, and vinegar. This naturally gentle cleaner won’t scratch the surface of your vintage doorknobs, even if they’re not solid brass. Dip a soft, damp cloth into the homemade cleanser and apply to the door hardware. When you wipe clean, even tougher tarnish should come right off. It’s always best to try the gentle method before using the harsher commercial cleaners. In addition to damaging the finish, many of these cleansers have chemicals in them that can leave metals like antique brass looking more like copper. While copper is lovely, it certainly doesn’t have the bright tones that brass does. If you do decide to use a commercial cleaner, be sure to test whether your hardware is completely brass or just plated metal – it will make a difference in which cleanser you will need to use.

As you can see, cleaning up and polishing those antique doorknobs is easy if you’re willing to take a little time and care. Using these gentle methods will help preserve the original beauty of these pieces without damaging the metals or scratching the surfaces. If you still have questions about cleaning your vintage or antique doorknobs or other hardware, feel free to contact us, or come by one of our locations. If you’re looking for some vintage pieces to add to the doorknobs you already have, or if you’re searching for other antique pieces, you can view our wide selection online here.

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How to polish brass & copper

14bel8729Brass and copper are two of the most beautiful metals used in antique or vintage building pieces. Over time, however, these metals can become tarnished, or develop a patina that changes their natural color. While some prefer the look of this aged patina, others prefer their metals to remain bright and lustrous. If you have a piece you’d like to keep looking bright, or if you’ve found a piece in our gorgeous selection of decorative metal items that you’re hoping to restore, continue reading below for our tips on polishing up your copper and brass.

Before removing any existing patina from brass or copper pieces, it is important to have them appraised by an expert. In some cases, removing the patina from a vintage or antique piece can seriously lower the value of the piece. Consider coming by one of our Olde Good Things, locations and letting us take a look at your item to ensure that your items retain their full value.

If your piece is brass, you’ll first need to check if it’s solid brass or simply brass-plated. This is easy to test using a magnet. If the item is only brass-plated, the magnet will stick. In this case, you should only complete the first step below. Over-cleaning any item that is plated brass can remove the finish. If your piece is made of modern copper, it will have had a lacquer applied to its surface to protect the piece. These should not be scrubbed, and there is no need for a commercial cleaner.

The first step in cleaning any copper or brass item is a simple wash with hot water and a mild soap. Use a soft cloth to wipe the piece down, and then a clean, dry, soft cloth to dry. This will usually remove most deposits. Once your piece is dry, you can choose to use a commercial cleaner and polish, or you may choose a gentler option. It is quite easy to make a simple polish that works well on either copper or brass using items from your own kitchen.

If your piece is solid brass, a simple buff with a jeweler’s cloth will remove most mild tarnish. You may need to remove the lacquer from a solid brass item in order to polish it well. This should NOT be done for copper items, however. If you wish to use a polish, or for copper items with only a bit of tarnish, a simple paste made of equal parts vinegar, salt, and all-purpose flour will work quite well. Plain toothpaste (without any mouthwash or other additives) will also work well. Using an old, clean toothbrush will help you reach any small crevices where dirt and tarnish often collect. When applying the polish, wear cotton gloves to avoid canceling out your polishing work by leaving fingerprints. Apply the paste to your item with a clean, soft, cloth. Once the piece is covered, rinse the paste away and buff your piece with a separate cloth until it achieves a brilliant, rich shine.

m215759For copper pieces that have more moderate to sever tarnish, a stronger cleaner can be made using equal parts real lemon juice and salt. Rub onto your piece with a clean cloth briskly, and then rinse. Dry with a clean soft cloth and buff the piece briskly. Tomato ketchup or paste also makes a very effective cleaner for stains or tarnish. If these methods don’t help to remove the tarnish, you may have to consider purchasing a commercial cleaner. Once your piece is polished, if you removed lacquer from your brass items, you will need to be sure to reapply the protective coating.

Olde Good Things has a HUGE selection of brass and copper items in out inventory, and if you find one you love, don’t let a little tarnish keep you from buying and using that item in an awesome home remodel or decorating project.

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It’s show time

Its that time of year where Olde Good Things travels all over the country to showcase our unique creations. Here’s where we were this past weekend.

Rose Bowl in California
Madison CT antiques show
Eastern Market, Washington DC
Clover Mart, Chestnut Hill PA
Country Living, Columbus OH
Brooklyn Flea
77th Street and Columbus Ave, New York City
Park Slope Flea Market, Brooklyn NY

Here’s where we’ll be through October (in addition to our usual spots in NYC, Washington DC, etc., see show calendar here). Come on down!

Lauritzen Gardens Antiques & Garden Show – Omaha NB
Sep 18 – 21, 2014

Oktoberfest Wilmette IL – St. Joseph School
Saturday, Sep 20, 2014

Hillcrest Inn Antique Show – Warrenton TX
Sep 25 – Oct 4, 2014

Junk Bonanza – Shakopee MN
Thu, Sep 25, 11:30pm – Sat, Sep 27

NYC Big Flea – Pier 94
Sep 27 – 28, 2014

Burton Antiques Market – Burton OH
Saturday, Sep 27, 2014

Clover Market – Ardmore PA
Sunday, Sep 28, 2014

West Palm Beach Antiques Festival – Palm Beach FL
Oct 3 – 5, 2014

Alameda Point Antique and Collectible Faire – Alameda CA
Sun, Oct 5, 6am – 3pm

Lincoln Road Antique & Collectible Market – Lincoln Road FL
Oct 12 & 26, 2014

Clover Market – Chestnut Hill PA
Sunday, Oct 19, 2014

Country Living Fair – Atlanta GA
Oct 24 – 26, 2014

American Vintage Market – Davenport IA
Oct 25 – 26, 2014

OGT participates in shows and has delivery trucks over most of the country; we can deliver what you need.

 

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Easy ways to reuse vintage decorative hardware

As a company that specializes in “architecturology” we are incredibly blessed to find amazing vintage hardware to add to our growing inventory. Recently we added a huge selection of vintage door hardware, decorative hardware, and hardware we salvaged from well-known New York landmarks. Our decorative hardware department consist of finials,
elevator hardware, latches, hooks and racks, ice box hardware, shelf brackets, shutter hardware, window hardware and much more. With all of the great things we’ve got in stock, it isn’t hard to find creative ways to use it all.

Make your windows into showpieces

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Hang ‘em high!

Vintage hardware may be olde but it still has its uses, especially when our customers stop by and grab a few to reuse in their home decorating projects.

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If you have some ideas to share, or if you’ve used vintage hardware in your home décor, tells us about it.

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Upper West Side store closing

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After four years, our Upper West Side store is closing at the end of July, as our lease is ending. We thank you for your patronage and support of Olde Good Things. We have enjoyed all our wonderful customers!

We will be open daily 10-7, and 10-6 on Tuesdays. Our last day of retail operations will be July 30th. We can be reached at our email address columbus@oldegoodthings.com if you have any questions or need to reach us after our close date.

You can still visit us at our four other Manhattan locations!

Columbus Avenue Team

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Tropical wood decking and beams now available

The Architecturologists got another nice supply of tropical ipe wood beams and decking, this time coming from a lower Manhattan pier.  (The previous batch came from the Coney Island boardwalk). The existing pier is being demolished for the construction of a new shopping mall. Email for details if you have any interest!

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Tour the Olde Good Things vintage hardware collection

Join our vintage hardware expert Dale Sponaugle for a 15-minute guided tour of one of the largest vintage hardware collections ever.

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Spring High Point Market Show

 

At this very moment Olde Good Things is featuring our Altered Antiques at the High Point Spring Market Trade Show. The show begins today April 4, 2014 and will continue until the 10th. We have two booths located at  MSG-14-ADC and also at SAMS G-8003. So come by and see the true beauty of our pieces in person. This show is open to the trade only.

Olde Good Things is located Booth MSG-14-ADC & SAMS G-8003

The Suites At Market Square

200 West Commerce Avenue

High Point NC 27260-4908

Get directions

High Point Market ‘First time to the Market resource

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Which came first: The chicken or the glass?

Now that you have seen the many ways people use chicken wire glass, we thought it would be interesting to take a step back and look at the origins of this amazing product.

This restaurant in the Lower East Side, Manhattan, makes use of pebbled chicken wire glass as a decorative element in its storefront.

First, we need to start with chicken wire itself, which was invented in 1844 by British ironmonger Charles Barnard. The son of a farmer, Barnard wanted to help his father by finding a way to keep wayward chickens from fleeing the coop.

Inspired by the cloth-weaving machines common in his home town of Norwich, Barnard developed a way to manufacture a mesh fence out of thin, flexible galvanized steel wire twisted into hexagonal patterns.

The idea took off and a company was born. Barnard, Bishop & Barnard later produced and sold chain-link and other types of wire fencing internationally.

Chicken wire is used today to build cages for small animals or to protect plants from hungry squirrels and chipmunks. Creative people have adopted this versatile material in dozens of other clever ways, including making sculptures, baskets, picture frames and even chandeliers.

This canopy has been created with salvaged corrugated chicken-wire glass. Since glass is not bio-degradable, this is an excellent use for such an abundant material.

As for embedding chicken wire in glass, we need to go back to 1894. Coca Cola was sold in bottles for the first time and the Tower Bridge in London opened for traffic. What is the significance of these two facts to chicken wire glass? Glass-enclosed rooftops became trendy, raising concerns about breakage and safety.

But innovative glass manufacturers managed to come up with a solution. The Pilkington Group, headquartered in St. Helens, United Kingdom, was among the first to manufacture chicken wire glass that year.

The Beertown restaurants in Cambridge and Waterloo, Ontario, use amber corrugated chicken wire glass creatively as dining area sconces, and clear corrugated glass as the 'Restrooms' sign. Pebbled chicken wire glass becomes room dividers. The process consisted of sandwiching steel wire mesh between two separate ribbons of semi-molten glass and then passing “the sandwich” through a pair of metal rollers that squeezed the wire and glass together. The temperature at which the wire is embedded in the molten glass ensures cohesion between the metallic netting and the glass, and the two materials become as one.

This marriage creates a glass of extraordinary strength. A quarter-inch-thick piece is just as strong as a half-inch-thick piece of ordinary glass. It will not shatter like plate or skylight glass, thus it is often used for overhead work where falling shards would create danger.

The Acqua Al 2 restaurant in Washington, DC, uses hammered chicken wire glass to cover storage areas. Casement windows are made from a patchwork of chicken wire glass of various textures. In addition, chicken wire glass is a good fire retardant; the wire mesh keeps glass shards from falling, thereby preventing flames from spreading.

It is practically burglar-proof and missile proof, which is why you’ll see chicken wire glass used in schools, banks, museums, prisons, airports and jewelry shops. You can also find it in interior glass screens, partitions, balustrades, display windows and showcases.

Beyond its practical safety benefits, chicken wire glass is valued for its beauty.  Chicken wire glass can be made with a maize-like design, ribbed, rough-rolled or as a clear polished plate. Dimensions vary. A piece can be 1/4, 3/8 or 1/2-inch thick, up to 40 inches wide, and up to 100 inches long. The wire is so thoroughly covered that rust or corrosion are highly unlikely.

Additionally, this type of glass intercepts 99 percent or more of incoming ultraviolet rays, protecting furniture near windows from discoloration caused by exposure to direct sunlight. If you don’t like shutters, this is the glass for you. It also provides good sound insulation.

If you feel like chicken…

If you’re interested in incorporating chicken wire glass in your renovation or building project, check out our inventory here. And lots more info on our specialized glass site.

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Art Deco Weekend in Miami Beach

If you’re in the Miami Beach area this weekend, we’re set up at the Art Deco Weekend show at 12th Street and Ocean Drive, right across the street from the Tides Hotel. Click here for more information. Come on down!

SATURDAY (JANUARY 18, 2014) 10 AM – 11 PM
SUNDAY (JANUARY 19, 2014) 10 AM – 8 PM

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