Hi everyone! Sometimes I assume that everyone knows what I know about vintage and antiques. I have to stop and remember that it’s has taken me a long time to get where I am (and believe me, I’ve got plenty more to learn).
I thought it might be helpful for some, especially those just starting out, to learn a how to care for the [less than perfect] items you might buy, whether for sale or for use in your home.
So, every now and again I’ll be writing a post about the various techniques I use to clean vintage and antiques, and otherwise prepare them for sale. Today I’ll pass on my easy steps for restoring and protecting rusty metal–going from sad and flaky to revitalized and protected. Let’s take a look at how to clean and care for antiques: rusty metal specifically.
Last July I bought a large box of rusty
junk valuables. I think it cost me seven dollars. What was I thinking?
I’ve been slowly cleaning the contents one by one, and have more than tripled my money by selling just three of the items in the box.
The other day I removed this small cigar box from the larger box and decided to tackle its contents.
Supplies Needed to Clean & Care for Rusty Metal
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I gathered my supplies:
Removing Rust From a Metal Awl
I decided to start with this piece, an old ice pick. Because it was extremely rusty and had crusty hunks of the stuff on it, I gave it a good scrubbing with my small wire brush.
This technique is obviously not for a delicate, highly valuable antique. You would use other methods on those. No, this is for super cruddy items, like this one, that will have no other purpose or value until you get the rust off.
You can pick up wire brushes like these very cheaply at hardware stores or a Harbor Freight. Sometimes they come in packs of three. As you can tell, I’ve had my smaller one for a long time. The larger wire brush handles larger pieces well.
Just look at the rust dust that the brushing left behind after I scrubbed this hanging basket. [Be careful not to inhale this stuff; I’m sure it’s not good for you. You might consider wearing a mask of some sort.]
After being scrubbed, the awl looks quite a bit better already, doesn’t it? But while you can still see some bits of rust, the next step will take care of that.
Scrub your piece with some steel wool and bit of mineral oil and the last of the rust will pretty much disappear. If the item you’re working on doesn’t have too much rust to begin with, you can jump right to the steel wool/mineral oil.
The oil improves the look of the piece and protects it from further rust at the same time. For the last step, rub the piece vigorously with a lint-free rag. When you hold your piece in your hand, you don’t want it to feel greasy, just clean and smooth.
Here’s the progression of the piece. Your steps: (1) wire brush scrub (2) steel wool and mineral oil scrub (3) lint-free cloth rub down.
Caring for and Cleaning a Rusty Doorknob Plate
This door plate came from the rusty crusty box. As you can see, it’s in pretty bad shape.
After experiencing its rusty metal spa treatment, the rust is gone (it looks better in person than in the photograph!).
Things are looking pretty good.
Removing Rust from Metal Orbs
These rusty orbs were also in the box.
They’re all relaxing after their spa treatments. I guess we could all benefit from a hard scrub and an oil rub-down now and again, couldn’t we?
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Bye for now,
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