Brass Cleaning Tips
Brass Cleaning Tips
Okay, so you are determined to clean your brass by yourself. Here are some things you need to know:
1. To get excellent results, you must first remove any old clear coating that is still present. It is probably there even though you think it has worn off. If your cleaning compound is not making much progress, consider testing a small amount of chemical paint stripper on the brass to cut through the clear coat.
2. To get the brass to shine, you must either chemically remove the oxygen ion that has created the tarnish, or you must mechanically remove a thin layer of metal to expose brass that has yet to oxidize. This is not as easy as it sounds. The off-the-shelf brass cleaning compounds are often just products that contain a mix of low powered chemicals and ultra fine abrasives that help you to cut through the metal.
3. Once the brass is clean, you will need to polish it. Keep in mind that the cleaners often leave behind thousands of micro-scratches in the metal. Your task - should you wish to accept it - is to somehow get rid of those scratches. Maybe you can do it with lots of rubbing and ultra fine polishing compounds.
4. If you are satisfied with the level of polish, then it is time to clean the brass. This step is important as it makes sure that all chemicals and rouge are removed from the brass. Professionals use industrial strength lacquer thinner. I don't know where you will find this. What's more lacquer thinner is highly flammable. It is very dangerous to work with. If you use regular lacquer thinner, be sure there are no open flames, pilots lights, etc. anywhere near you. You should also not work alone.
5. Once the brass is clean, it is time to clear coat it. The acrylic polyurethane, used by many of the professionals, can not be found at a paint store or home center. Don't waste your time looking for it! Keep in mind that clear lacquer is humidity sensitive. If the conditions are not just right, it will look a little murky when dry, not crystal clear. You can try regular urethane, but I will not guarantee the results. The professionals apply it with special spray equipment. It operates at high pressure and sprays a low volume of material. I doubt you will have access to this type of equipment. What's more, they spray a special tack coat and then come back with the final coat after five or 10 minutes has passed. Remember that these coatings cure over a period of days, not hours.