Polishing Brass Inlay

Discussion in 'Clock Case Restoration and Repair' started by Kim St.Dennis Sr., Apr 18, 2018.

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  1. Kim St.Dennis Sr.

    Kim St.Dennis Sr. Registered User
    NAWCC Member Deceased

    Mar 20, 2003
    Clock Restorer
    Los Angeles
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    I picked up this nice French Empire Clock at our last CH75 Mini-Mart and would like to polish the brass inlay. I would prefer not to use a polishing compound because I have seen that it leaves traces in the grooves around the inlay that are very hard to remove. Also I do not know the long term effects of polishing compound on the wooden clock case. My first idea is to use a hard eraser to remove the oxidation from the brass and then lacquer the brass very carefully to preserve the shine. I’m not sure how effective the Eraser with be though.
    I also thought that I could use 2K & 4k emery paper to polish the brass.
    Any Ideas?


    Empire Clock.jpg Bottom.jpg Crown.jpg Dial.jpg
  2. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

    Jul 26, 2015
    retired and on my second career
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    I've always wondered about this. You can get impregnated cleaning cloths, I wonder if they work?
  3. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

    Jun 24, 2011
    Medical Insurance Systems Analyst
    El Dorado, CA
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    Hard call... Provided there aren't a lot of microscopic cracks in the finish that will trap polish, I'd go with Nev-r-Dull in one of the more inconspicuous areas and hope that the darkened polish/residue from the oxidized brass doesn't present as a cloudy film.

    Any other polish will likely be quite visible as residual product in the various voids in the inlay and/or finish, even if you were to try and tint the polish and introduce something to limit 'drying' of the polish, such as an oil.
  4. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
    Sponsor NAWCC Brass Member

    Feb 22, 2010
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    The Brass may be covered with lacquer in which case I think I'd be inclined to leave it alone unless you plan to refinish the wood too.

    If the Brass is bare, you might try dabbing on a solution of Salt dissolved in Vinegar. That works quite well removing tarnish from copper and copper based alloys. No polishing required. Using a cotton-tipped applicator or small paint brush you could limit application to the brass and minimize it on the wood finish.

    Disclaimer: I haven't personally tried using it for a purpose such as this so if you decide to give it a try, do so on a very inconspicuous area first and go from there.

    Very nice looking clock. A good, gentle cleaning, along with a couple of coats of wax may be the best approach.

    Good luck.
  5. Paul Snyder

    Paul Snyder Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    May 20, 2018
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    wrights brass polish washes off with water it leaves no white residue its great for cracks
  6. shimmystep

    shimmystep Registered User

    Mar 5, 2012
    Cambridge, UK
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    Pending there being no lacquer to get in the way, personally I would use cotton stick buds, with Mas metal polish. The trick is is to use an almost insignificant amount on the bud, and with Mas this is possible. Dab a spec on and work it into the cotton before rubbing the brass. If indeed it is brass that is, because looking at the top pediment, I'm not convinced it is brass inlay due to the colour and that the gold colour looks like paint that has rubbed off over time.

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