Brass Be Gone

Let me preface this by saying I don’t hate brass.  At least not aged brass.  I can’t stand the bright/shiny/fake/80’s brass.  Don’t hate me for doing what I’m about to show you.  Last week I had to run to UPS to send my felt leaf bowls to Germany for a photo shoot.  While waiting for the main UPS to open at noon, the boys and I stopped at a park to play, bought groceries, and popped in a Goodwill.  Not needing anything in particular, I puttered around the store and saw a brass bar cart.

I shoved a little lady to get to it…in my head.  In real life I patiently waited for her to pass and then snatched it for, wait for it… 13 bucks.

Because it was a decent size, I rationalized we could use it just about anywhere, and not only as a bar cart.  Yeah, Ben’s jug-o-wine wouldn’t look too fancy on this bad boy.  The details were so nice.  Double tiered, wooden legs, and on castors.

I’m guessing there was another glass shelf at the bottom, but we can replace that.  Either with another piece of glass or painted MDF.

Everything was great, except the finish.  While I liked the brass color, it was certainly worn, and not in a good way.

Hoping to keep the brass, I tried using Rub N Buff on it.  No such luck, it just wiped right off the slick surface.  Well, it was worth a shot.  Sure, I could have used spray paint, but I’m not sure how it would hold up over time.  When in doubt, I turn to my trusty friend Blue Magic.

Pair Blue Magic and fine steel wool and you’ll get a shiny, chrome finish on brass plated items.  Because this stuff is stinky, I rolled my cart outside.  I strongly recommend wearing rubber gloves, too.  The thicker, the better.  Then, dip the steel wool in the cream, and polish away.  Ten or twenty seconds later, depending on the thickness of the brass and how hard you’re scrubbing, you’ll see chrome.

Keep on going.  Now, I’m not sure exactly how/why this works, but here’s my best guess.  The steel wool acts as a fine sandpaper, removing the brass plate.  If used alone, it would scratch the metal, so the Blue Magic polishes it.  Thanks to all the crazy joints and details, it took me about five hours to get this done.

I decided to keep the brass on the wheels, both because I like the look and I didn’t know if the metals were the same.  I quickly sanded down the legs to re-stain them a rich walnut color.  Boy was that quicker!  A coat of silver spray paint on the black rubber pieces and here she is.

Obviously I’m using it as a side table in our living room.  The size is great, but I’ve got some styling I want to do.  Oh, and the bottom shelf.

I’m loving the shiny finish.

Those dark wooden legs, me-ow.

I’m excited for the bottom shelf and pretty details.

Castors are awesome, too.  If we don’t need it as a side table down the line, we can always roll this to another room, inside or out.

Basically, it’s exactly what I didn’t know I wanted.

How about a budget breakdown?

Cart:  $12.99 at Goodwill

Blue Magic and steel wool:  Already had on hand (costs about 12 bucks at car stores)

Sand paper and stain:  Left over from the bookshelf and bench

Silver spray paint:  From my stash

Time: roughly 6 1/2 hours

Total: $12.99 plus 6 1/2 hours of my time.  Not bad at all.

Do you like the changes?  Or did you prefer the brassy finish?  What’s your favorite recent thrifty find?  Ever tried Blue Magic on brass?  I’m contemplating using it on another project, but I’ve got some testing (and probably convincing of Ben) to do first.

16 thoughts on “Brass Be Gone

  1. How awesome is that!!! I’ve been looking for a bar cart for a long time. Hopefully I’ll stumble upon one when I least expect it, too! I love the way your home is coming together!!!

    1. Hi Shavonda!

      I swear, the key to finding something is to stop looking. I don’t know how many times I’ve searched for something, didn’t find it, gave up and then found it.

      Thanks for your sweet compliments, too!


  2. Have you used this method on other brass things? Our house is chock full of 80’s brass cabinet pulls and it’s not in the budget to replace them right now. I was thinking of trying to spray paint them but I might try this. Hmmm…

    1. Hi Felicia,

      Yep, I’ve used it on a few other solid brass things. If you use it on solid brass, it just lightens the gold color. If brass plated, it will look chrome because you’re getting to the under layer. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!!


  3. I’m going to have to find some of that Blue Magic! We have some seriously dated side tables in our basement from my hubby’s college years and they’d look a whole lot better in chrome! Plus chrome is his favorite color!

    1. Hey Sarah,

      Check out auto stores and give it a whirl. As long as they’re brass plated, it will work like a charm. 🙂 Let me know how it goes!


    1. Hi Monette,

      I’d test it out on a small, hidden area. If it works, go to town on it! It all depends on what the frame is made of. Let me know how it goes!

      Hope that helps!

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