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Incorporating refinished furniture into a room design is one of our most favorite things! Bringing in that one item that just needs a little bit of love really adds a lot of character to any space. What’s even better, when we are able to salvage the antique hardware!

restoring antique hardware for dresser

As you know, we’re doing a bedroom makeover for my Little Miss. I found this french provincial dresser through the facebook marketplace.

At first glance it didn’t look too bad. But upon closer inspection, the paint job really was in poor shape.

We decided to strip it down to the bare wood for a more modern natural look. We decided to keep the antique hardware that was originally on the dresser to maintain that aged look.

How To Clean Antique Hardware

The original antique hardware had been painted silver from a previous makeover. Once we removed them from the dresser, we noticed that the backside of the handles were an antique bronze color.

restoring antique hardware for dresser

So, we decided to strip the paint from the antique hardware with a little trick my uncle taught us.

Did you know that paint will loosen and come off of hardware when it’s boiled?

Yep, sounds weird I know, but it really works!

We simply placed all the hardware into a crockpot filled with a little water. After it had boiled a couple hours we took a wire brush to scrub off all the silver paint.

(This can easily be done on the stove as well, the crockpot just allowed me to start it and forget about it, without worrying about water boiling over while I was busy doing other things.)

restoring antique hardware for dresser

Here’s a look at the hardware. The upper handle has been cleaned and all silver paint scrubbed off.

The bottom handle has just come out of the crockpot and has not been scrubbed yet.

Boiling the antique hardware easily softened the paint. You can see the original finish already showing through.

Matching Antique Hardware

restoring antique hardware for dresser

When putting the hardware onto the drawers again, we had to switch the position of the handles around a little bit to fit properly. Due to the curves on the drawer fronts, there were definite right and left handles. They did need to be re-positioned to the correct side to fit flush to the drawer.

Upon stripping the paint from the drawers, we also discovered we had a little dilemma on our hands.

We noticed as the dresser had previously been refinished, that the top drawer at one point likely did have the same antique hardware installed.

The two holes had been puttied in and then painted over.

Well, being that we were going for that raw wood finish, we had to come up with a plan to cover those unsightly holes!

restoring antique hardware for dresser

Not only were these holes unsightly, but the new hole that had been drilled for the knob wasn’t even centered between the two existing holes!

restoring antique hardware for dresser

We took a little trip to Hobby Lobby to scavenge through their seemingly endless supply of handles and knobs.

Again, due to the curvature of the drawers, I wasn’t able to find any handles that would fit quite right. However, I found a scalloped glass knob.

The knob really looks great with the antique hardware…except we were still left with the two unsightly holes on each side of the knob!

Hobby Lobby also had these antique looking hinges. I grabbed all they had (literally) and brought them home to see if we could remedy our problem.

They too looked great with the existing hardware as well as the new knobs we found. However, they were a little large and overpowered the other handles.

restoring antique hardware for dresser

Trying to come up with an idea ourselves on how we’d be able to use these hinges on both sides of the knobs, covering the holes, we ended up clueless. 

So, we decided to call my Dad over (the master problem solver himself), to help us come up with a solution.

As always, he had a great idea! We secured the hinges to a scrap piece of wood to hold it into place, while he used his  grinder tool to cut through the hinges. Voila, just like that, we’d now be able to use them to cover those holes!

restoring antique hardware for dresser

The raw edge of the hinges were sanded down to remove any sharp edges, and then we dabbed a little oil rubbed bronze spray paint onto the edge to mask the silver finish that had been exposed.

restoring antique hardware for dresser

Again here’s a look at the antique hardware before this dresser makeover began.

The After

restoring antique hardware

And here’s the after! I’m so glad we were able to clean up the existing hardware and salvage what we had.

restoring antique hardware

I may be even more glad that our hardware dilemma was solved for this top drawer! I love the combination of the glass knob with the hinges.

They coordinate really well with the original antique hardware, and you wouldn’t even know that we used them to cover up those unsightly holes!

Don’t you just love this natural wood look? It’s so refreshing and I love how the dresser now has so much more detail exposed with the visible wood grain.

If you’d like to see the full dresser makeover, including how we stripped the paint and bleached the wood, visit the original post here.

Thanks for joining us today! We hope you learned a little something about cleaning up and salvaging existing antique hardware. Do you have an old item you’d like to try this trick on? Let us know how it turns out.

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restore antique hardware

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Gail Brashinger

    Loved how you stripped the paint off the dresser and knows. Looks beautiful. I have an antique dresser that has darkened over the years. I would like to restore it. It also has the original brass handles. Do you have a project you’ve done like that? I could use some advice. Thank you.

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Gail, this sounds like an amazing piece. If you want to keep the original finish, there are products to just restore the finish without stripping. I have used Howard Restore a Finish on an old table. If you are wanting to lighten the wood. you will need to strip off the old finish. This will more than likely lighten the finish as the old stain is removed. Then just apply a new topcoat. We love Minwax Wipe on Poly as a topcoat to wood finishes. You apply is with a cloth and you get a beautiful hand rubbed finish.

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