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Know When To Hold ‘Em, Know When To Fold ‘Em

Kenny Rogers was right, you need to know when to stay and when to run.

As I’m coming into the tail end of my latest project (this Campaign desk), 

                                                   it looks dark and dingy here, but the hardware really wasn’t that bad!
I’ve run into two separate issues, both of which I’ll be blogging about this week.

The first is polishing brass.  The hard lesson I’ve learned is knowing when to polish, and when to leave good enough alone.  The first disclaimer I should mention is that I’m a visual person.  Often times it’s very hard for me to imagine something unless I can see it in it’s entirety (think paint, wallpaper, etc.), which, as you can imagine, can sometimes create difficult situations.  I noticed that some of the hardware was dark in spots, and I decided to try my hand at cleaning it up–the only problem is, there really is not in-between.  Either it’s super shiny and clean (which has absolutely no “aged” appeal), or it’s tarnished and uneven, which isn’t always aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  I took a chance on cleaning it up and pulled out my Brasso.

And now a note on this.  I know people swear by it, but it’s not something I would swear by.  It works (often times in varying degrees), but stinks and requires a bit of effort.  I found that a good combination of elbow grease and alternating between applying the product directly on the brass and applying it on a cloth (as the directions state) works best for me.  I need to let you know that applying Brasso to a cloth and then to your item is what’s recommended by the manufacturer, so please use your own discretion if you’d like to try my method. So I used this method, tried it, and it worked . . . but now I think it’s a bit too clean and shiny–I wanted a clean, aged look, but that’s not exactly what I got.  I got this.

And since I started, I had to go ahead and finish it. 

It’s a bit too brand new, which is definitely not what I was going for.  Don’t let the pictures fool you–it is shiny.  I found that it really is hard to achieve that in between look, so I went on ahead and cleaned the rest of the hardware.  

Don’t worry, there’s no need to pull out the violin for me.

Woodworms make the best violins

It will still be fabulous and beautiful in the end, but I just thought I’d share my observations & experiences.  

How do you feel about brass?  If you’re a person who likes it clean, what’s your go-to method for getting down and dirty???

**I know Jenny from Little Green Notebook uses salt & vinegar–any other reviews on that method?

13 Comments on Know When To Hold ‘Em, Know When To Fold ‘Em

  1. charmaine
    April 21, 2010 at 8:36 am (8 years ago)

    I followed Jenny’s salt and vinegar method (for the dresser in my family room) and it turned a funny color. I guess it wasn’t real brass(?) so I ended up spray painting them. Lesson learned!

  2. Nati Girl
    April 21, 2010 at 10:08 am (8 years ago)

    I literally just bought brasso yesterday for some brass armillary bookends I recently found at Goodwill. You are right – it stinks! But I thought it did a great job. I love Wright’s silver cleaner for my silver stuff. Nice post & anxious to see the finished desk. NG

  3. Averill
    April 21, 2010 at 11:43 am (8 years ago)

    Hate Brasso. It does work, but the smell is so awful I’m convinced I’m giving myself lung cancer. I used it to polish some old brass on my vintage dresser and it worked, but it took several good scrubs and an overnight soak in salt/vinegar to really get the job done.

  4. Mrs. Chic
    April 21, 2010 at 1:09 pm (8 years ago)

    I’m not a huge brass person, but think it will look really pretty and all tie in together perfectly once your finsih up the desk –

  5. Sharstin
    April 21, 2010 at 10:15 pm (8 years ago)

    can’t wait to see the finished product! I have no doubt that it will be fabulous!

  6. Tamstyles
    April 21, 2010 at 11:00 pm (8 years ago)

    i have been looking for something campaign for a while..i think people are not noting it right in craigslist..lucky you

  7. Anonymous
    April 21, 2010 at 11:58 pm (8 years ago)

    I recently spent 3 hours polishing a brass bar cart with Brasso…frustrated with the slow pace I picked up a bottle of “Bar Keepers Friend” in the cleaning isle next to the Ajax…its a powder cleaner, but what took me hours with Brasso took 15 minutes with BKF and a scrubbing brush…it was only $1.25 so I recommend it for use on larger projects.

  8. other-option
    April 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm (8 years ago)

    I am loving that desk! I cannot wait to see it finished!!
    – Danielle

  9. Dreams of Perfection
    April 23, 2010 at 12:42 am (8 years ago)

    I am thinking of trying Bar Keepers Friend to clean some brass knockers I bought on ebay for a dresser I finished at a client’s house..i.e. (My Mom!). I like the shiny brass look only b/c I know it will get nasty with all the use the dresser gets. I can’t wait to see your desk. I campaign furniture.

  10. paula
    April 23, 2010 at 9:04 am (8 years ago)


  11. charm home
    April 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm (8 years ago)

    That desk is so cool. Where did you find it? I can’t wait to see the after photos.

    Great to finally meet you in person last night! I had so much fun hanging out with you. xo, Cristi

  12. Redesign Diva
    April 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm (8 years ago)

    I am not a brass fan and will paint it, but I may try bar keepers friend if I do try and spruce some up… I am with you into aesthetics to a tee!


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