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Cleaning Brass Tools Without Chemicals Or Harsh Abrasives

wpid-wp-1442632799541.jpegAs a glass artist, I use a lot of brass tools because hot glass doesn’t stick to brass.  They tend to get tarnished (patinaed) when left sitting unused, which really isn’t a big deal, as this doesn’t generally affect the use of the tool, but it’s not very pretty.  Recently, I’ve come across a bunch of antique brass German fruit knives, which are AWESOME for moving hot glass! They’re over 100 years old, so some (most) of them have a lot of tarnish. I’ve been reselling them, so if you’ve purchased one, here’s how to get it all nice and shiny, like new, again.

These methods work on ALL brass, so if you have some old presses, doorknobs, buttons, etc., that need a good cleaning, here are a couple of inexpensive and environmentally friendly ways to do it.

Method #1

Ketchup (Catsup or however you want to spell it.)

Yep. That’s right! Good ol’ Heinz isn’t just for hotdogs & hamburgers. Just spread some wherever the tarnish is, let it sit for a while and then rub it off, rinse and dry. You may have to repeat a few times, depending on how bad the tarnish is.

wpid-wp-1442632835652.jpegSmear ketchup on tarnished area. Let sit.

wpid-wp-1442636412826.jpegRub ketchup off. Repeat, if needed.

Method #2

Lemon juice

Put your tool in a container and pour enough lemon juice in to cover the area to be cleaned. Let it sit for a while and then wipe off the tarnish. If needed, repeat. Once all tarnish has been removed, rinse and dry.

wpid-wp-1442636146075.jpegPlace item in container. (baggie or shallow dish. wpid-wp-1442636159644.jpegPour enough lemon juice to cover item. Let sit.
wpid-wp-1442636429091.jpegWipe off tarnish and repeat, if needed.

Once the tarnish has been removed, there might be a little discoloring (orangey or pinkish color). This can be removed by polishing with super fine steel wool (000 or 0000). This will give your item a nice shine and won’t scratch it as long as you don’t press too hard.

If you would like to purchase a knife, I have them listed here.

Tips:

1. Vinegar can also used, as well as citric acid dissolved in water.

2. If your item is really bad, you can add some salt to your lemon juice or vinegar to make the reaction stronger. Make sure the salt is completely dissolved in the lemon juice or vinegar BEFORE you put your item in the container.

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Random Tip: Inexpensive Frit Trays (Repost)

ssfrittraysIn my never ending quest to find a suitable (and cheap) replacement for my beloved stainless steel frit trays, I have finally succeeded! I used to get these cute little sauce dishes from Target. They’re stainless steel and came in packs of 6 for around $5, but woe is me… Target stopped carrying them several years ago and I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else, since. Well, a few months ago, I was wandering through the garden section in Home Depot (God knows why because I have the blackest thumb on Earth!) when I noticed these cute little flower pot saucers in various sizes. The 4″ one is a perfect replacement and it was only 68¢. I later found some at Michael’s, as well, for even less if you have a coupon.

tcfrittray

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Make a Leaf and Foil Vacuum For Less Than $20

leaffoilvacA Leaf/Foil vac is a huge help when you are working with flyaway metals. It will keep you silver/gold/copper leaf or foil from flying all over the place while you’re trying to use it. To purchase a commercial one can cost $75-100. That’s pretty pricey for a single purpose tool that probably won’t get much use, and with me being a broke @ss, I’m not about to pay that kind of money! This video will show how to make one for less than $20 out of items you probably already have around the house.

 

 

Materials needed:

Computer Fan (CPU Fan)
A 9 volt battery
Metal screen or mesh (I used aluminum window screen)

In the video, you can hear the mesh rubbing against the fan a bit. All you have to do to fix that is use your fingers to bow the top away from the fan. The vac that I actually use has an on/off switch that I found at a surplus store and it cost about $5 ($4.95, to be exact). You don’t really need it but if you install a switch, you don’t have to keep connecting and disconnecting wires:

 

leaffoilvac2