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topic 0161, p2

Clear coating brass, copper and bronze furniture, sculpture, and jewelry

Some clearcoating solutions (adv.)    g j nikolas banner   everbrite banner  

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A discussion started in 1995 but continuing through 2018

February 25, 2008

Q. Many years ago I purchased in Canada a product called Sheffield Clear Metal Lacquer. It was made in England, was water white and came in a 4 oz bottle. I coated everything in my home that I would normally have to polish. One coat and, indoors, it seems to last forever. The finish is absolutely flawless. Items I coated over 20 years ago are still as shiny today as the day I coated them. I just need to wipe them with a damp cloth occasionally.

I don't know if the company is still in business but I do know I can't find it in Canada. I have no idea why a product like this is not available everywhere. Surely there is enough polishing of brass being done to cause an entrepreneur to do the necessary.

Bernard Swain
- Mill Village, Nova Scotia, Canada

A. Thanks, Bernard. We're not familiar with that particular brand, but sometimes older brands contained stronger but more dangerous chemicals and they can't offer them anymore. If you are having trouble sourcing it you could speak to G.J. Nikolas [a supporting advertiser], who would surely be familiar with what type of lacquer was offered by Sheffield. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 21, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have several solid brass articles in my home (candlesticks, bells, figurines, etc.) which I must polish frequently. Is there a protectant that I can apply once I finish polishing that will prevent the need for frequent repolishing?

Joe Summers
homeowner - Fort Wayne, Indiana

July 26, 2009

A. Whatever coating is used, Acetone [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] will clean the surface of copper nicely prior to clear coating. Incralac is probably the best for exterior use. Permalac is also good. If you spray the coating, cut it with lacquer thinner 3 to 1.

Sean Biello
- Voorhees, New Jersey

February 18, 2010 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. We are having a table built, and had a patina finish professionally applied to a sheet of copper we intend on using for the table top. What do you recommend we protect the copper with for use as a kitchen table?

Valerie Neff
buyer - Lakewood Colorado

August 29, 2010

Q. I am refinishing a wood door. Prior to starting this I carefully covered the brass threshold with a drop cloth and tape. During the prolonged stripping process the stripper loosened the tape and the protective coating on the brass threshold has been partially removed. It shouldn't be difficult to get it the rest of the way off but now I need know what type of protective coat to put back on it. It will need to be weather resistant plus stand up to foot traffic.

I will appreciate any assistance you can give.

Paula Cates
Home Owner - Lanesville, Indiana USA

November 7, 2010

! Hi everyone, why isn't there much of a mention of clear powder-coating? Wouldn't that be one of the best methods?

Thanks, Benjamin

Benjamin Storch
- Powys, Wales, UK

Ed. note: Thanks, Benjamin; the inquirer, correctly or incorrectly, started out with: "Powder coating is too thick." But some of the inquirers who added their questions to the thread may want to consider powder coating for their applications.

April 11, 2011

Q. Hi everyone!

I am based out of Southern California and have come across this forum whilst googling ways to help prevent bronze and brass JEWELRY from tarnishing against the skin (turning skin green) and also from the piece tarnishing itself. While there seems to have been a lot of great methods suggested here, I am wondering if these suggestions are good enough for things that will come into contact with the skin? Our casting house out here says they have a "clear coat varnish," but I'm afraid I don't exactly know what they mean. Does any one have a fairly inexpensive, non-abrasive, but efficient way of helping prevent the tarnishing of jewelry? Or can someone explain to me what this technique might be when it comes to jewelry?

Thanks so much!

Jesse Southern
jewelry designer - LA, California

July 21, 2011

Q. Hi. I am new to jewelry making with brass and copper. I've been etching and adding patina to the pieces. Liver of sulphur is used to add patina, however, when I scrub the piece with steel wool, ALL of the patina comes off. I am looking for a contrast between the etched and non etched surfaces. Any ideas? Thanks so much. I'm also having problems with the metal sealant. I've been using a water based Seal Lacquer. As such it wears off when it comes in contact with moisture. What should I use?

Gail Duve
Hobbyist - Clearwater, Florida, USA

High School Ring (to illustrate relieving)

July 21, 2011

A. Hi, Gail. I have no jewelry-making experience or aptitude so I can't presume to advise on good practice. But I think that darkening the recesses and relieving the high points makes for a good living finish (picture the ubiquitous high school ring) =>
If you were to try to do things the opposite way, retaining brightness down in recesses and darkness on the high spots, it won't work and will look unnatural anyway -- so maybe the fact that the patina readily wears off isn't wrong.

If the traditional clearcoats don't work because you are looking for a more abrasion-resistant coating, you might need a 2-component system like automotive clearcoat.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 27, 2011

thumbs up signThank you for your suggestions. I'm more than happy darkening the deeper recesses and keeping the non etched surface shinier. I'm thinking maybe I'm not etching the metal deeply enough. Perhaps if I do that, it will be easier to avoid scrubbing off the patina on in the recess. Thanks so much for your time.

Gail Duve
- Clearwater, Florida, USA


October 6, 2011

A. We are currently field testing a new product called BronzeShield. It was developed specifically to protect bronze, although we are also optimistic about its ability to protect copper, brass and other metals that make up the bronze alloy.

Holly Anderson
- Fargo, North Dakota USA

Readers: This site is for camaraderie and technical information exchange. Every technology has advantages & disadvantages. If you wish to technically describe a technology which you feel is good for the problem, that's what we're here for! But we discourage postings like "Brand Y is better than Brand X" (why?)
Please feel free to promote technologies but not brands: hairspray, PVD, waterborne polyurethane, wax, brass lacquer -- fine; but Incralac/Permalac brand brass lacquer (for example) over other brands of brass lacquer, not so fine :-)

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Hi Ted, I'm a bit surprised by your post. Are you saying you don't mind people popping in just to say "We make X-brand super lacquer, and it's great!" just so long as they are a paying advertiser (will you make this commercial connection transparent in each post?) but are not allowing comments like "I'm in the trade and have been using Y-brand for 20 years on this type of work in this type of environment with good results" because Y-brand are not a paying advertiser? This policy would make your site redundant for people looking for impartial advice. Taking this thread as an example, the post above yours seems like one to censor, it adds nothing more useful to the debate than adding a untested product name to what is available to try, but the Incralac posts came across as benefit of experience (inevitably inherent risk of shilling accepted). I think this would be quite a self defeating policy for your site as I for one won't come back to a place that only promotes its paying advertisers products and discourages the benefit of experience of other products. Regards,

J Broski
- London, England, UK

Hi, J. Sorry for the misunderstanding :-(
My note was directed at the posting you're complaining about; it just didn't seem fair to pick on BronzeShield by name on their very first mention on a site where Incralac/Permalac has been promoted more than 80 times. And with 7 mentions of Incralac/Permalac on this page, they were an obvious example.

BronzeShield is *NOT* an advertiser here -- we have no "secret advertisers" -- we just don't want "testimonials" (why?).

This is a 60,000-page site on the air since 1995 -- so the perennial issue of "comment spam" & testimonials might not be apparent on your first visit. We're simply reminding our gentle readers that this is a technical site dedicated to technical discussions about the science of metal finishing ... not for testimonials. Thanks!

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 7, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I'm venturing into the hobby of metal jewelry crafting and Im looking to find out what a good over all protective coating I should be looking at. I found a few suggestions of "Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax" [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] but wasn't sure if this was the best option. I'd like a few different options if possible. Thanks

J. Phelan
- Chicago Illinois, USA

September 27, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. My name is Jim Cook and I have been building copper sprinklers for 13 years and have struggled with maintaining a polished finish on my product. I sale these at art shows and usually demo them by running several,the water tends to discolor the finish and I would like to know what I can use to maintain a polished finish against the elements.

Jim Cook
- Fremont Michigan USA

October 1, 2012

A. I am 5 years into restoration of a 1938 fire truck with a whole boatload of brass. I tried to clear powder the bell after polishing it to a high shine. The heat from the oven destroyed the polish job and profoundly discolored the brass @ about 400 deg. The heat left the metal surface with a "sandblasted" feel to it. The repair was not cheap. I am currently using a clear lacquer that is one of the 3 or 4 top sellers for in/outdoor use on polished brass and I am so far, happy. My advise is: make sure it is lacquer, not an enamel. Enamel stays liquid longer and raises the odds of drips and runs, and tends to turn milky white as it absorbs the moisture (humidity) while it dries. Whichever brand you use, spray it and use a fast thinner so that the lacquer does not turn milky from humidity. I am not a trained professional, just a lot of expensive tuition to the school of hard knocks. I hope this helps, John K.

John Koppelman
antique truck restoration - Inglewood California USA

October 5, 2012

Q. After reading all the postings about products for maintaining brass and copper after polishing, does anyone have a definitive, best-there-is product? I usually apply a spray aerosol, mostly lacquer, sometimes enamel with some sacrifice in sheen. Perhaps using bulk product, with ample thinning would be better, but for small projects it doesn't seem worthwhile to fire up the compressor, then clean the spray gun each time. I was always curious what the high-end brass door hardware manufacturers (Baldwin, for instance) use to get their finish … anybody know??

Larry Creveling
- Milford, New Jersey USA

October 8, 2012

A. Hi Larry. Is a Honda or a Hyundai the "definitive, best there is" car? In fact, since there are waxes, lacquers, one part clearcoats, two-pack clearcoats, epoxies, polyesters, cathodic electrodeposition coatings, UV cured lacquers, physical vapor deposition coatings, preservatives, conversion coatings, etc., … we could ask whether a Porsche or a Peterbilt or a Harley is the "best there is" vehicle. Sorry, but there just isn't any answer to the question.

It depends on interior/exterior, temperature range, whether UV resistance is important, whether the coating needs to be removable, whether you want to be able to be able to add another layer without stripping, how free of yellowing it needs to be, how much it costs, how quick it cures, and (as you imply) how much work you are willing to put in.

2K Clearcoat

High end door hardware "lifetime finishes" are not wax, lacquer, or clear coat at all. The surface you are seeing that looks like brass is not brass (although the handle may be made of brass). What you are seeing is zirconium nitride or a similar ceramic hardcoating which looks like brass but isn't brass, and is applied by the PVD (physical vapor deposition) process on top of nickel electroplating. This requires a very expensive (over $1M+) machine.

If you don't want to fire up the compressor and then have to clean it up, but you otherwise like the two-pack clearcoats, they are now available in spray cans with 2-in-1 heads (although it's probably an expensive way to go, and I'm not vouching for rattle cans reliably mixing two-pack chemistry =>

Luck and Regards,

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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