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I Forge Iron

How to remove copper plating from hardware

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I'm re-purposing some hardware that was copper plated and covered with a black lacquer type material to 'antique' it. Sanding is impractical/incomplete and burning it in the forge accomplished nothing. (All PPE/safety procedures were observed :D ) Muriatic acid after removing the the lacquer/varnish didn't help. Any suggestions??? THX, Keith

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I have found that cup brushes work best on flat surfaces. A non-cup wire brush works better for non-flat surfaces.

What ever you use, a slow RPM is recommended and clamp or hold the work piece VERY securely. Be sure all safety guards are in place and use all the personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses, full face shields, lather apron, etc.

I know of one smith that was using a wire brush on the end of a motor to clean up a 3/8 inch square S hook, The wire brush grabbed the hook from his hands and threw it back at him breaking his safety glasses and giving him both a head trauma and concussion.

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You might try something like this:

I've had good success with products like it (methylene chloride solvents) to take off all kinds of old paint and varnishes from metal parts.

Just a few minutes after you lather that stuff on, the old paint will start to bubble up and separate. For tough paint (e.g. paint that may now be baked on... :) ) you could leave it for a few hours, or over night. The old paint should come off with hand scraping and brushing. If everything doesn't come off in the first shot, give it a second "bath".

Prior to leaning about this paint stripping chemical, I made a huge mess in my garage by using a belt sander and wire cup brush to strip paint off an old propane cylinder, which eventually became my gas forge. Needless to say, these days I get everything off that I can using chemical methods, before resorting to brute force mechanical methods.


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Tumbling it will take it all off. Methyline Chloride will take paint off for sure but be sure to use a proper filter mask or ventilation, it isn't good to breath. It isn't sudden death or instant cancer but it sure isn't good for you. Yeah, we used a lot in the asphalt lab for extractions. We used Trichorethylene and trichlorethane too, not instant death but nasty.

Just be careful and use common sense please.

Frosty The Lucky.

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