In this section we give advice on identifying, handling and how to clean, polish and protect the various metals that period house owners usually meet. These include iron, brass and lead, as well as metals used in decorative objects such as silver, nickel and pewter.
Most metals are harmful in excess quantities; avoid air-borne dust, wash your clothing and wash your hands. Lead is the most hazardous and is often hidden, for example in paint and we provide more advice here.
Before attempting to strip paint from metal objects, or polishing it, make sure that you know what the metal is, and whether it is lacquered or plated, rather than solid; it is easy to damage these surfaces. You will tend to lose an attractive patina that is itself a protective layer.
Some metals, such as brass and copper, can be mended with solder. You will need a fairly powerful soldering iron for heavy wire or anything larger - a 15-25w iron will not work. A good option is a butane gas torch - look for one with a soldering tip.
The general principles of soldering are: