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How to Polish Metal Embellishments or Ironmongery

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In this video, you will learn to make your metal embellishments and ironmongery shine by polishing them

For more tips to help you spruce up your furniture, take a look at the other videos in our Furniture Restoration program

Discover some hints and tips for restoring your furniture with metal parts by watching this short video on polish metal embellishments and ironmongery.


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In this video, you will learn how to polish metal embellishments, which we will first remove and then put back.

For your safety, you will need:

A protective mask,

Protective glasses,

And protective gloves.

For this project, you will need:

A carpenter's chisel,

A thin piece of wood,


A hammer,

An electric drill,

A sanding wire brush for drills

Fine-nose pliers,

And a vice.

You will also need,

Wood glue,

And some nails.

There are three steps to this process which we will explain to you.

Step 1: Removing a Metal Embellishment

In this example, we're removing a metal embellishment which is fixed to the furniture with nails, the most common method on older furniture.

Slide the carpenter's chisel under the metal piece, in line with the nail, with the bevelled edge facing downwards.

You need only slide it in a millimetre or so.

Never use a hammer to force the chisel in, as this will damage the furniture.

Hold the piece of wood beneath the blade of the chisel to allow for a levering motion

Push down gently to lift the embellishment.

The nail will be pulled up gradually out of its hole.

2 millimetres is enough of a gap to remove the nail.

Grasp the head of the nail with the pincers.

holding it straight

Then pull downwards and to one side, until the whole nail comes out.

The nail will come out slightly bent

If your embellishment is held in place by several nails, as in this example,

Start by removing the nails in the middle, then at the ends, to avoid bending the metal

Some common mistakes are twisting the nail to try and remove it.

To try and pull the nail out with one sharp tug,

Or to squeeze the pincers too tightly and cut through the nail.

Step 2: Cleaning the Metal Embellishment

Choose a sanding brush suitable for the metal of your embellishment.

Iron is white and needs a round brush with red nylon bristles.

Bronze is a deep yellow, with a grainy texture, and also requires a round brush with red nylon bristles.

Brass is a brighter yellow, with a smooth texture. It's lightweight, and requires a synthetic fibre brush.

Insert the shaft of the brush into the spindle of the drill.

Tighten into place.

Place the head of the drill in the vice, making sure the drill is securely in place.

Put on your safety gear.

Turn on the drill, while wearing gloves, hold the metal piece in your hand and pass it under the brush.

Turn the ornament, making sure that the brush reaches every area.

You've finished when the metal is clean and shiny.

Step 3: Replacing the Metal Ornament

The shafts of the new nails should be one or two millimetres longer than the previous ones.

This extra length will allow you to sink the nail in fresh wood.

Take care not to use nails that are much longer than the previous ones, as this may cause the wood to split.

Put the metal embellishment in place and put a nail in the old hole with the long-nose pliers.

Holding the nail shaft with pliers will help you avoid hitting your fingers.

Hit the head of the nail in one sharp movement, holding your hammer at the end of the handle.

Continue until the nail is completely embedded.

You could also use the same nails as before, making sure to straighten them out.

To do this, position your nail with the bend pointing upwards, holding the head with the pliers.

Hit the bend on a hard surface with the hammer. In our example, we've used a vice.

Put a dab of wood glue in the hole so that the nail will stick.

Drive the nail into the hole with the hammer, as described earlier.

Now you now how to remove, clean and replace a metal embellishment on your furniture.


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