How to restore a metal clamshell

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You’ve just picked up a great metal locker or checkroom. It would look great in your house? But here it is… it’s all rusty and you don’t know how to proceed… Here’s how to proceed step by step and almost without chemicals.

Not long ago, I was lucky enough to pick up 2 large clamshell lockers… I kept one in its juice in the house.

Which looks like this:

Then I decided to strip the second one for the kitchen. The result:

restoring a clamshell with patina

Not being finished, it is still in the garage.

So how did I go about it?

First of all, I’m quite allergic to stripping products. People will tell you to use products that will dissolve the paint and that you can scrape off with a spatula in 15 minutes.

I tested the trick.

But frankly, with a dog around, I avoid toxic products. And it gets you all over the place.

And you’re going to have to go over and over again to get it all.

So I ended up going back to my manual method.

The grinder with its brush:

The grinder is cheap if you don’t already have one. Don’t bother with a 200 euro machine. In the brico dépot or bricoman, you can find it for 15 euros.

If it gives up the ghost, you won’t have a heartache (or a wallet).

For the brush on the other hand, I put the price to have a brush that will last in time. Otherwise you strip a piece of furniture and you can go look for a brush in the process because yours will have no more hairs.

For the brush, follow the picture above. No need to take the hardest ones with a few hairs. It will scratch your furniture and it will not be clean.

With hundreds of iron bristles, it stays uniform and looks pretty nice without damaging the locker you are going to refinish.

Now you need a little patience and a little elbow grease. You’re going to run the grinder everywhere you can.

Take it slowly and be patient.

Like me, after the first 15 minutes, you will wonder if the chemical is not faster.

That’s why I tested products.

But I wasted all my time behind the grinder because it was disgusting. And the product did not remove the rust… which the brush does wonderfully by insisting on certain parts.

With the brush, you will have a basic effect.

Then for the corners, you can go with the dremelle (this one for example) or indeed there use a little product. This is the only use I have today.

Once your furniture is stripped … it remains only to pass anti-rust and to make the desired industrial effect.

For that, you will find anti-rust product in any DIY store.

For the inside of the lockers, being quite complicated to strip, I gave them a rough brush and rust remover. My princess took care of putting some grey anti-rust paint on top of it, just to have something clean for the dishes… since it goes in the kitchen for the moment.

You’ve got your rust inhibitor on, so all that’s left is to make your effect.

And then it’s pretty magical.

You can leave your furniture as is. The effect produced by the brush allows you to leave it as it is. The result is very nice.

But personally, I use zebraline.

Zebraline is used to restore cast iron fires. It gives a nice look to the fire.

It’s a nice cream to make your furniture shine while giving it a darker look… even black depending on how much you put on it.

You spread this on the furniture. You wait a few hours and then come in and wipe it down to shine it up.

If you have a cloth disc made for the grinder or a drill, it’s faster 😉

And there you have it… you have your furniture restored in a very short time.

For the 10 flap case above:

  • 3 hours of stripping
  • 30 minutes to put the anti-rust product and spread the zebraline
  • 2 hours of interior painting

In one day, you can have a brand new piece of furniture that will complete your decor.

I’m not even talking about resale. A well restored locker of this type is worth about 200/300 euros if it is not a brand.

If you have it for 30/50 euros, it’s a good deal.

And if you want, I have another tuto of this kind on how to strip metal chairs. It’s the same process.

How about you? How do you strip your indus furniture?

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