How do I cover this brass curly thing?
April 30, 2015 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I am about to refinish an old wooden chest. it has a brass metal thing similar to this on the front that does not seem to be removable. How in the world do I cover just the metal parts of something like that up while I am refinishing it?

I need to be able to get the wood stain onto all of the little parts of wood that are peeking through but not onto the brass thing itself. Do I have to spend the next 12 hours cutting intricate little strips of blue painter's tape up to cover it? There has got to be a better way, what is it?
posted by skjønn to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
You don't cut up intricate little strips. You take a long strip of tape and do a stretch and press around the perimeter of the shape, butting right up against the wood. It's a pain in the ass, but more of a 30 minutes of intense focus ass pain than some huge, involved project.
posted by phunniemee at 2:24 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hmm, rather than tape, I wonder if it would be possible to coat the metal parts with paraffin wax or some similar substance that you could paint or sponge or press on, then peel off later?
posted by aecorwin at 2:33 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why do you think you can't stain onto the brass thing itself? Could you stain right over it, then mop up the pooled stain in the voids with q-tips, and later clean the stain residue off the brass with q-tips soaked in some kind of solvent?

Alternately- that thing has to come off somehow. It's probably glued- can you pry it?

One more option- masking fluid? It's like a latex that you paint on, it resists the liquid, and it peels off after. But test it first- because the stain might dissolve the fluid and make a gummy mess, but if it works, it'll peel off cleanly afterwards.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:41 PM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

that does not seem to be removable

Are you sure? It's very likely either glued on (less likely) or attached with lots of little nail-like spikes off the back of it, in which case it was pressed or hammered on (more likely); in either case you can pry it off. Have you tried sliding something behind it to see if you can pry it off? Have you tried using a heat gun to melt any adhesive that might be there?

Also, it's called an onlay or an applique. See here for new ones.
posted by resurrexit at 2:42 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can get a heat gun for $15 from Harbor Freight or you can use a hair dryer.
posted by resurrexit at 2:49 PM on April 30, 2015

As with all matters of taste your mileage may vary, but not only would I work at removing that but it's very likely I wouldn't put it back after restoring the finish of the wood.
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:21 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

How about smudging fabric wax or Vaseline over it and then dabbing the stain over the whole thing. Then you just wipe off the wax/vaseline ? The stain will stick anywhere that there isn't waxy stuff. Works for my hairdresser when he doesn't want the permanent hair dye getting stuck on my ears and forehead.
posted by rancher at 4:00 PM on April 30, 2015

Just put the chest on the back side with the brass on top, then brush the stain inside the pattern, and just enough around the edges to make it easier to rub up to it, but not on it.
posted by Oyéah at 8:16 PM on April 30, 2015

The hardware might have been applied before the inside was lined with cedar, so, the back might be totally hidden. I think phunniemee has it, tape it like you are making a little tape fence all around it, then fold it inwards. You mostly just need to protect the perimeter.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:37 PM on April 30, 2015

IANYS/D, but I'm a signwriter/decorator.
Since the ornament is raised above the surrounding wood, and non-porous, it shouldn't be hard to just brush the stain right over it and then immediately wipe it off of the ornament proper with a soft (non-lint shedding) cloth. An old T-shirt cut into pieces should do the job.
Taping around the ornament won't let you stain the inside spaces. I would not do that.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:30 AM on May 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

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