Asked on Sep 04, 2012

Need ideas for what to do about the rusted brass feet on a table I want to paint.

Carol P
by Carol P
This is a mahogany coffee table that was my parents and I thought I wanted a lighter wood so sanded it down and made a mess. Have kept it for years unfinished. Thought I would chalk paint it and add a large roman numeral clock face to the top lapping it over onto the leaves that fold up. It also has pulls on each side that will raise the table to dining height..Pretty cool when you need extra seating. What can I do to make the metal parts (knobs,feet and leaf holders) new again?
  61 answers
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 04, 2012
    I am afraid there is rust to deal with and too late for Brasso.
    • See 1 previous
    • Carol P Carol P on Feb 09, 2021

      Ended up painting with a fine gold paint and it looks perfect no one can tell the difference thanks for your help

  • Susan S Susan S on Sep 04, 2012
    Carol, I would clean the brass as best you can. At this stage I think I'd probably use a brillo pad and scrub the heck out of it. I don't think you can do much harm and then get rub 'n buff and repaint the brass pieces.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 04, 2012
    By repainting the brass, are you thinking a metalic brass paint, or the same color as I do the table? I just saw your recipe for homemade chalk paint...sure would be cheaper. I am assuming you were pleased with your results and it is the same as the real stuff. I really don't understand the concept of chalk paint versus regular latex. Can you give me the reason it works better? I am thinking a light taupe with a distressed black clock on the top. Or a grey with a dark wax and then a clear wax.
  • Susan S Susan S on Sep 04, 2012
    I'm not the one who posted the homemade chalk paint recipe - I'm just one of many talking about trying it!! As far as the brass pieces goes - there are any number of metal colors available in Rub 'n Buff so you should be able to find an antique brass color that will look authentic. It's in a tube and you put a little bit on a rag and just rub it on the brass and just buff as you go. It isn't wet like paint per se so it's dry almost immediately. Actually, if you're thinking of distressed black or the grey you can also get the Rub 'n Buff in silver too.
  • Becky H Becky H on Sep 04, 2012
    One of the absolute easiest brass cleaners I've found is Amway Metal Cleaner. You can literally put it on the metal and see it begin to clean without any elbow grease.
  • Sheila J Sheila J on Sep 04, 2012
    if you're going to paint the feet you may want to try some navel jelly on them to remove the rust first, if you don't it will just come through the paint. when you wax with chalk paint you always wax with Clear, then the dark. if you put dark on first you can't control & manipulate it. the paint will be stained. if you put clear on first then the dark you can manipulate it & take off as much as you want. good luck & post some pics when you're done please.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 04, 2012
    ok Susan, I have never heard of Rub'n Buff, but will try the Amway metal cleaner first. I hope I can find both products. Thanks for the tip Sheila on the wax. Can you get the Rub'n Buff at Hobby Lobby?
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 04, 2012
    Susan I found the Rub'nBuff on line ....Sheila, should I invest in the two brushes they suggest for the waxing? I am just doing this one piece. Surely there is something cheaper out there that will serve the purpose that isn't so expensive. I will ck for Amway on line now. I don't know any dealers.
  • Z Z on Sep 04, 2012
    8_( Me crying that you going to paint this gorgeous table.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 04, 2012
    I know Becky, I should of left it alone. It was a dark mahogany and so cool that it rises to a dining table. It just looks so raw now. I am sure it would be an antique. I remember mother getting it and she was so proud of it. I am 71 now AND i WOULD SAY SHE GOT IT WHEN i WAS 10 OR 11. . OOOPS CAPS!! It sat in front of the sofa and when my boyfriend would come to visit he would bring his drumsticks and play them on a magazine on the table...needless to say there were dents and my mother was livid. So I have memories. Just thought painting it and lightly distressing a large black clock face with roman numerals might look ok. The clock would overlap onto the leaves. I am thinking a grey with black clock and clear wax and then dark wax.
  • Z Z on Sep 04, 2012
    Are you sure you can't save it? I mean if you really want to? Can you tell if it's veneer or not? It really doesn't look so bad. I'm wondering if Howard's Restore A Finish wouldn't fix it. It's amazing and comes in different colors. Personally I think it's worth a try since it has sentimental value. I'm 56 and have been refinishing furniture, for our own use, for a few decades now and this product is amazing!
  • Simple polish pad on a drill with some resin polish should do the trick. If indeed the parts are solid brass, they will come up looking great. If there is rust, then they were only brass plated. If that is the case you can paint using a brass or nickle paint, or depending upon any colors that you choose, you may simply want to go a flat or shiny black color. You do not have to go with standard metal colors if your changing up the colors of the table.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 05, 2012
    Becky it is not veneered. I sanded and sanded and stripped it . Now you are making me feel "having 2nd thoughts." Will look into the product if I can find it. Woodbridge...I think I have that tool. My husband passed a yr ago June and his garage was his mancave and I will have to do some searching. I have used a drill bit on a battery operated drill. Maybe he has other parts to it, but I know there are other drills and pads and things I have no idea what they are, hanging on the wall.
  • Z Z on Sep 05, 2012
    I'm so sorry about the loss of your husband Carol. And please don't let me cause you more work if you really want to paint it. It's just it being a family piece it sounded like you hated to paint it but felt you had no choice.
  • Sheila J Sheila J on Sep 05, 2012
    carol if you are going to use both waxes i would use 2 different brushes. i DO have annie's brushes because i use her paint & waxes a lot but if you're not going to use them after this i would look at just getting a good chip brush that doesn't shed too much at lowes or home depot, something like that. good luck to ya! =)
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Sep 05, 2012
    If this is solid wood you really should try to just do a new clear coat...I did a table a while back for a went from nasty to nice.!/534229
  • Amber Amber on Sep 05, 2012
    i recently tried an idea on here about using mouthwash to get pet odors out of furniture and i noticed on my couch where i poured it that the brass buttons on the base of it were shiny. so maybe you can put some mouthwash on a rag and test a small spot on the bottom.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 05, 2012
    Well, the more I think about it, I am going to see about how the brass feet come out and the other metal parts. Then really eye ball the condition and if I feel it is worthy of refinishingl, will go that way first. If I don't like it, I can THEN paint it and put the clock stencil on it. Sounds like a win win to me. Thanks Becky for your input and kind thoughts and KMS also. I am sure this will take me awhile, so don't give up on me. I will post pics. So glad I asked questions.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 05, 2012
    Amber, very interesting. Will give it a shot....make you wonder what that stuff does to your teeth!!!! Bahahahaha
  • Z Z on Sep 05, 2012
    Yay! I'm glad you're going to give saving the natural wood a try first Carol. I'm super sentimental so on family pieces I always try and save them as much as is as possible. I have one of my Gramma A's wicker chairs that was last painted, probably, by my Grandfather that died before I was born. It sat on their sun porch for the whole of my memory of my visits to my Gramma's house. Then when she passed on it came to my folks home, then later handed down to me. It's worn from many a family members arms resting on the chairs arms, so most would want to paint it, but I can't. I can "feel" my long gone loved ones hugging me when I sit in that chair.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 05, 2012
    Neat chair and yes the memories are important. I am worn out just thinking this thru and will wait for alittle cooler weather to start. In the meantime will gather my tools. Thanks for your help. I will post pics down the road.
  • Becky H Becky H on Sep 05, 2012
    Becky, I can tell that's an antique wicker piece. I've never found one for sale in that style. Really a super piece!!
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 05, 2012
    Hey Becky you have access to an amway dealer for the metal cleaner?
  • Donna R Donna R on Sep 05, 2012
    To Yankee Becky......if that's okay! I love what you wrote. I have several really cherished pieces that have been handed down to me and I look at them as I don't really own them, I am just the present keeper of them and they will be passed on to the next generation. I also make sure my kids know the stories behind everything. Sometimes when I'm dusting, I will hold up something and ask my daughter, "what's behind this". She will, "yes mom, it was in your room when you were a teenager and after you cleaned your room you would go out and pick shrimp plant from your dad's flowerbed and put it in that stoneware pot." (Yes, I know I was a weird teenager!) I just think they need to know the stories. To Carol, I love your story about your boyfriend drumming on the magazines on the table. Wonderful memory. I bet you thought he was so cool with his drumsticks!
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 06, 2012
    lol....not really, but he thought he was. I think it was more nerves and what do do with his hands!!!!
  • Z Z on Sep 06, 2012
    Thank you Carol, Becky H. and Donna. Good idea Carol to let yourself have time to think about just what the next step in the process with your cherished table. Like my daughter said when she was fourteen and wanted to paint over the pink on her bedrooms walls. "The pink paint will still be there Mom and so will your memories." My Mom helped me paint those walls when my daughter was just five (she's the lovely bride in my profile photo) and I couldn't bare the thought of covering them up. I'm tearing up now just thinking of it and that was almost 14 years ago. Mom had passed suddenly three years before, but I did give in and let our daughter paint her walls a very bright yellow. Becky, my guess is the chair is close to, if not, a hundred years old since I remember hearing that it came with from the family farm. My Gramma A. was born in 1888. Thank you Donna. I think it's great that you are passing on stories to your children about things that belonged to your family. I do the same with ours. It gives them a sense of who they are. Oh and Carol, I got a huge belly laugh out of your comment about your old boyfriend.
  • Donna R Donna R on Sep 06, 2012
    Well Carol, best he drummed on the magazines!!!
  • Michelle Clemens Michelle Clemens on Sep 06, 2012
    I'm more of a patina girl... But, if it's really brass, use brass cleaner, a few dents or marks just give it character!? ☻M
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 06, 2012
    I got to looking at the feet alittle closer and they are really corroided and rough to the feel. Makes me think maybe they aren't brass. I think I need to see if I can take them off and soak them???? there are rollers under the legs, so maybe all one piece screwed on...Don't know yet.
  • Z Z on Sep 06, 2012
    Good idea to soak them Carol. Good luck.
  • Carol, If they rusted they are not brass, only brass coating which is what i suspect. Take a magnet and put it on the legs. If it does not stick, it is brass.
  • Michelle Clemens Michelle Clemens on Sep 07, 2012
    It would be great if they come off!! Everything is easier to work on that way! LOL ☻M Oh, P.S. Just use an old toothbrush for the nooks & crannies! ☻
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 07, 2012
    I have a heavy duty magnet on a stick my husband use to use to find screws he would drop....I will try that and let you know WE...;))
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 11, 2012
    Well. they are not brass......darn it.....will see if they are removable and soak them. Any suggestions for a solution to use to get the corrosion off or at least smooth. Steel wool comes to mind. Depending on when they end up looking like, I might paint them a satin black. Going to try to stain finish first.
  • I kind of figured they were steel. When removing them you, although I suggest that you do not, you need to be careful. Depending upon how they were attached you may damage the ends of the legs. Often times the legs are held on my a tiny nail hidden on the back side of the foot, so look carefully for that before you attempt to pull them off. I good fine wire brush on a drill should do the trick nicely to prep them for a new coat of finish. Use duct tape to go around the wooden part of the leg so not to damage it when using the brush. If you decide to remove them and your successful you may want to consider having the feet and accessories re-plated. Check your local yellow pages for companies that do this type of work. Might cost you a few bucks, but in the end you will have exactly what was there when the table was new.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 11, 2012
    Gosh. this is becoming a major project, but I am up for it. I live in a small rural town in Ks, so probably someplace in KC might do this. That is 90 miles away. I use to know a family who owned a shop years ago. Not sure they are even in business, but the son might be. Will check it out. I am sure it will be over my budget, but rather do it right if I can.
  • Carol P Carol P on Sep 11, 2012 is the plating co and they are still in business. My parent were very good friends of Marvin Hiles and I knew William (Billy). I have left word for him to call me. thanks for the suggestion. Old home week!!! lol
  • Z Z on Sep 11, 2012
    Oh how neat you'll have them replated and see an old friend. I'd check with them about how/or if you need to remove the feet. I have no idea how they do this, but they may not need them removed from the table. Though it would certainly be easier for you to transport without the table attached. Good luck Carol! Wish I were close by to help.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Sep 12, 2012
    I would use a few layer of blue painters tape instead of duct tape...the glue residue from duct tape can be a real bugger...once cleaned up some metallic spray paint from rustoleum my be a good option. I just used some the other day on my steel target plates ( the kids choice in color) and they came out surprisingly least until we started shooting them again...LOL
  • Sherry  B. Sherry B. on Sep 21, 2014
    If brass...Bar Keepers Friend. Dampen rag, sprinkle powder to make paste, rub onto metal, wait a couple minutes and wipe off with very wet towel then dry quickly not to damage wood. If needed use toothbrush to get into creases, gently rub a few seconds then wait. If clean up well but don't look good, use rub n buff tube metallic paints.
  • Donna Anderson Donna Anderson on Mar 28, 2015
    It is possible to find new replacement pieces in brass for a reasonable price. Try someplace like Restoration Hardware or one of the other catalog services that deal in metal pieces.
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Apr 10, 2015
    Lee Valley Hardware has them - or perhaps you can forage from other old pieces,
  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Apr 10, 2015
    Check real good, I stripped a dinning room table last year and the feet felt all corroded, turned out to be old floor was, I removed it with same stripper I used on wood, also polished a little, never got them back to shiny brass, more aged looking.
  • Nancy J Nancy J on Jul 14, 2015
    or if you are painting them anyway, use a vinegar bath, soak in covered container with white vinegar, this won't do anything for pits, but you can sand those a little, I would also spray a rust converter (I like Rustoleum) to smooth the finish and prevent anymore rust
  • Carol P Carol P on Jul 15, 2015
    I had the table refinished and they used a nice gold paint for the brass feet. If you didn't know any better you wouldn't think it was paint.
  • Anita Stuever Anita Stuever on Oct 06, 2015
    Oh, my gosh, I inherited an identical table from my grandparents. I love it. I think it's the nicest piece of furniture I have--definitely worth refinishing. I once saw the same table on "I Love Lucy" or another of Lucille Ball's TV show.
  • Melody Melody on Oct 29, 2015
    I would suggest if you haven't already got the project done to try (copper & brass) cleaning compound or liquid. You can buy it most anywhere in the cleaning isle in most any grocery store.
  • Lisa House Lisa House on Jan 09, 2016
    What about the product Tarnix, I think it's called? Was originally only sold on TV, now Walmart stocks it.
  • Lynn Lynn on Jan 11, 2016
    I would not paint those. The hardware is probably brass and it will look lovely with those redone. There are several products you can you. I usually use Barkeepers Friend. Others are liquid. Please no paint!!!
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Jan 16, 2016
    I just had a heart attack.....I LOVE old wood pieces. Would have used tung oil or old English oil to spiff it up and take out some of the scratches. And I would have polished the brass feet. Still a beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing.
  • Donna Ragan Donna Ragan on Feb 14, 2016
    Clenched brass with vinegar, baking soda and salt
  • Judy McCarey Judy McCarey on Sep 03, 2016
    How do I remove/re-attach the brass feet and casters?
  • Melissa V Melissa V on Nov 15, 2016
    Hi Carol...Have you taken a good look at your table? It looks like a Duncan Phyfe dining room table and they usually store small and expand to seat as many as 12. Obviously poorly kept and in need of TLC, so much water damage -If I were you I would try to find some identifying markings before you move ahead with any paint. These are beautiful tables when taken care of correctly. Also, do you have the chairs? That would help in identifying the table.
  • Loretta Loretta on Jan 27, 2017

    would not attempt to remove the brass, just get brass cleaner for them, easy.

  • Joanne Joanne on Jan 27, 2017

    They are usually attached with very small nails on the feet.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 19, 2018

    WD-40 or Hammerite or Rustoleum

  • Deb K Deb K on Jun 07, 2020

    Hi Carol, you could try to clean them up with some vinegar.

  • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Mar 15, 2021

    Brasso for corrosion (green). Rustoleum for rust (red).

    If you want the brass to stay bright, you’ll need to clear coat them.