Saving Dixie the Dresser – Part Three: Hardware Restoration

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Welcome back to part three of Saving Dixie! Today I’ll show you how easy it is to restore tired looking brass hardware. If you are just joining in, be sure to catch up on part one and part two to learn about the journey up to this point.

While it may be tempting to just chuck sad looking hardware and start over, I am here to tell you that it is almost always worth the added effort to clean and restore the existing, original to the piece, stuff. And it’s easier than you may think!

Here is how it started out…

picture of tarnished brass handles and knobs on concrete

There is a fine line between patina and just gross. The hardware on this dresser fit much more into the latter category.

Often times, it can be difficult to find reasonably priced handles and knobs, especially ones that match up with existing holes. And sadly, it seems they just don’t make ’em like they used to. Reusing what is already on the piece also helps retain the original character while keeping down costs significantly.

Spiffing up what’s there is the perfect thing to pass time while waiting for the paint to dry:) Dixie’s pulls and handles looked to be made of brass. From my experience of working with brass in my jewelry designs, I know brass cleans up relatively easy with lemon juice. You know, that stuff in the big green bottle? That’s one of the few things it’s good for. Please don’t ever use it for cooking and baking! But yes, feel free to clean brass with it all day long!

Here is how you do it:

  • Fill a (thrift store) glass dish about half way with undiluted lemon juice
  • Soak brass pieces for about 10 minutes
  • Rinse under running water
  • Clean with a little mild dish soap and a brass brush
  • Dry thoroughly with a lint free cloth – an old t-shirt will do just fine

The goodies are getting their beauty bath! I only had this round bowl on hand, but will be using a rectangular one next time to allow for more room for longer pieces.

picture of brass hardware soaking in lemon juice in round glass bowl

This is what it looked like after a good soak in lemon juice and a scrubbing with a brass brush. Not bad, but I knew I could do much better!

Picture of brass hardware drying on paper towel

Isn’t it amazing what a little lemon juice and some scrubbing will do?

Now that your brass hardware is clean and dry, it’s time to move on to the fun part of the project – turning these sow’s ears back into silk purses!

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Enter this stuff:

Picture of tube of rub'n buff in front of hardware

If you read this post, you already know how I feel about Rub’n Buff. Gush. Easy to use, cheap, goes a long way, comes in many different colors. A DIYers dream.

For the second part of this little project, all you need to do is:

  • Protect your work surface with some paper towels or news paper
  • Put on non latex gloves to protect your hands (unless you enjoy having golden hands that require a thorough scrubbing, in that case, carry on)
  • Use a soft piece of cloth, like a piece of cotton t-shirt or decommissioned sock to apply a small amount of Rub’n Buff to each piece
  • And, you guessed it: rub and buff
  • That is it. Done. Pat yourself on your back. You restored hardware.

Can you tell which pieces got the rub’n buff treatment?

picture of brass hardware with two pieces fully restored to shiny gold finish

Looks great, doesn’t it?

Here is a sneak peek at the finished project!

picture of restored brass hardware on teal dresser front


Honestly, I couldn’t be any happier with it! Such a cheap and easy upgrade!

List of supplies:

Now you are ready to go out and bring some hardware back to life, right?


Thanks for checking in today! Dixie is all done and waiting for her big reveal on Thursday! Hope you’ll come back and check her out!

Better yet, subscribe and you won’t have to stress yourself about having to remember. It’s that easy!

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

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Reusing existing hardware is a fantastic way to save money when restoring or upcycling an old furniture piece. Bringing dingy dark brass is easier than you think. And with a few simple steps you will have brass hardware that will be the star of your furniture makeover!


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