Stripping Metal Hardware

The only person in this world who understands me is my husband. Maybe Nicole Curtis would too. (If you don’t know who Nicole Curtis of “Rehab Addict” fame is, stop reading my blog, look her up, and then come back). Most normal humans, given a 3 day summer holiday weekend, would kick back, relax, and do summery things.

I strip antique hardware.

If you’ve ever refinished an antique that had hardware on it, you’ve probably run into the problem of old, caked on gunk and paint. Few things have survived this long without some lazy homeowner slapping a coat of paint over metal screws and hinges. I would have considered just buying new hinges, however since they are many decades old, finding repros that even come close to the way they looked is near impossible, and when I do find them, each new hinge runs around $12 as a starting point. Uh uh.

Thanks to the internet, I learned two new tricks, and I’ll be danged, they actually worked!

Trick 1: When removing a painted over screw, put your screwdriver in the head, and then whack on the handle with a hammer. This shakes the paint and screw a little loose, usually enough to get things moving. It works!

Trick 2: Removing paint without lots of chemical cleaners.

All you need is a small $15 crockpot (that you do NOT ever plan on using for food), soap, and water.


Some of these hinges have at least 4 different coats of paint, not to mention years of dirt and grease.

Throw hardware in crockpot, squeeze in a few tablespoons of normal Dawn dish soap, cover with water, and let stew on low for 8 hours.

Carefully remove hardware (do not burn yourself!) and the paint will mostly scrape right off! It will be loose and bubbly. Who needs chemicals?


A little elbow grease and a paint scraper was all it took to get this result

This is what the hinges looked like after two soaks in the crockpot spa. FYI, I ran the crockpot outside just to be safe and not infuse my home with the aroma of rust and lead paint.

I used toothpicks and steel wool to remove the last bits of paint and to clean everything up.



Doing just this method yielded hinges that have a mirror finish – they are so shiny that it was hard to get a picture of them without my reflection! Keep in mind, these were original hardware pieces from at LEAST the 1930’s, probably earlier, and this is how they came out.

There you have it – save money and save original hardware by boiling your metal! It takes some time to get everything perfect, but it is really worth it. This internet ‘trick’ sounded too good to be true, but it really works.


Loki, the House Dog, approves this message.



  1. […] that post I did about stripping old hardware? Part of that was for this project! We added on the […]

  2. […] lost some of the hardware, so after the fact we had to track down old hinges that fit the doors. Remember this post? That’s what this was […]

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