Removing Tarnish from Old Keys

Introduction

So maybe you bought out the old shop across town or found a lot of new-old-stock on eBay that was too good to pass up. In that lot there are some good keys but they are tarnished and ugly and customers will not like them that way.   
There is a fair amount of locksmith lore out there on how to clean the tarnish off.  Those methods were tried along with some new methods to finally find two foolproof ways to get the tarnish off without spending a lot of time at it.  The methods fell under three main categories:

  • chemical cleaning
  • mechanical cleaning
  • mechanical and chemical cleaning combined 



Chemical Cleaning

The first methods tried were chemical cleaning.  The chemicals were as follows:

  • Household Ammonia
  • Vinegar (Acetic Acid)
  • Ketchup (Acetic Acid and Tomato Paste)
  • Birchwood Casey Brass Cartridge Case Cleaner (Phosphoric Acid)
  • Lemishine (Citric Acid; found in the dish washer aisle in areas with hard water) 

Birchwood Casey Case Cleaner

Birchwood Casey Case Cleaner


Some of these ranged from free (ketchup packets from the drive through) to $8 for 16oz of concentrated solution in the case of the Case Cleaner.  Tarnished keys were submerged in each liquid overnight.  The bottom line was that all of them removed some tarnish, but none of them really made brass keys look like new.  At best they left a pink tint where the tarnish used to be.  If you only have light tarnish, Ketchup  or vinegar worked as well as anything.  The Case Cleaner was a disappointment, as it seems like it should have worked better than it did. 
After photos of various chemical cleaners - still not that great. Ketchup and Vinegar worked as well as anything.

After photos of various chemical cleaners – still not that great. Ketchup and Vinegar worked as well as anything.

Mechanical Cleaning

After the disappointing results from the chemical cleaning, the next round of testing used manual means to finish up the tarnish left by the chemical methods.  Two brass cleaners were used with a cotton towel to scrub off the tarnish: 

  • Brasso (~$7 per bottle)
  • Simichrome (~$10 per tube)

Brasso

Brasso


Simichrome Polish

Simichrome Polish


They both worked, but it was work.  Had to apply some polish to a rag and rub each key vigorously, then wipe the polish off completely.  The Brasso had a strong ammonia odor.  The Simichrome put on an incredible shine—the keys had a mirror finish afterwards, but again, a lot of work if you have a lot of keys.
The next two methods required specialized equipment:

  • Historic Timekeeper’s cleaner in a heated ultrasonic cleaner (~ $10 for the cleaner from a clock repair supply company, and ~ $100 for an entry level ultrasonic cleaner) 
  • Crushed walnut shells in a vibratory cleaner (A few dollars for crushed walnut shells from a pet store and ~ $85 for a Lyman Twin Tumbler) 

Lyman Twin Tumbler vibratory cleaner; bowl to right is for use with liquids.

Lyman Twin Tumbler vibratory cleaner; bowl to right is for use with liquids.


Fortunately, these tools were already owned for other purposes.  The word fortunate is used because neither really worked!  The ultrasonic cleaner was ran through two of the longest cycles it had, at full heat.  The cleaner was meant to clean antique clock parts, but just did not do much for the keys in question.  The vibratory cleaner shined them up a bit after a few hours, but it still left the worst tarnish behind.

Mechanical and Chemical Cleaning Combined 

Things were looking kind of helpless at this point but then I remembered that coin collectors sometimes use a vibratory cleaner with aquarium gravel and water to remove stubborn corrosion.  So that was tried next.  It was better, but not quite perfect.  It needed a little something extra.  On a hunch, added a tablespoon or so of Bon Ami (a powdered limestone cleaner used for stubborn stains on pots and pans). 

Bon Ami

Bon Ami


The keys came out spotless for once.  It just needed that barely abrasive quality from the Bon Ami.  There was one snag: some small bits of gravel would sometimes lodge in the millings of keys and would have to picked out with a pin.   Also, I discovered that the minute I turned off the vibratory cleaner, the keys needed to come out and be rinsed under fresh water then patted dry, or they would tarnish up worse than ever.  The vibratory cleaner was not that loud and could be left running behind a counter without bothering anyone.
Finally a slight success, but was there another method that would not require bits of gravel to be picked out of groves on keys?  Turned out there were two.  The first method used a rotary tumbler with a few pounds of short stainless-steel pins and water.  People who reload cartridges swear by them these days.  Well, it worked, but mainly I swore at it.  It was hard to keep the lid on tight enough—too lose and water spilled out.  Too tight and the plastic was liable to break.  It was really loud.  Hear it across the street kind of loud.  The keys did come out perfectly tarnish free, but the whole thing was messy, as you had to use screens to separate the keys from the pins from a soup of murky water.  If one does not mind the mess, they have some place where they can run the thing where noise is not a problem, and they have a spare $160 lying around, it is a workable method.  You can run a hundred keys or more at once through it.  But, do not try it with them bunched together on metal shower curtain rings—they need to go in separated.  The unit is equipped with a built-in timer. 
The two methods that worked so far cost a good bit of money and were kind of messy.  Could there be some simple way of doing this?  One could use steel wool and do it by hand, but that is a lot of work and it is hard not to leave scratches.  A wire wheel brush would work great, but they would leave really bad scratches.  But what about a really soft wire wheel brush?  It turns out that Grobet (the guys who make pippen files just right for impressioning) also make rotary wire wheel brushes that are extremely soft.  Last experiment was to get a Grobet wire wheel that use 3 thousandths of an inch thick wires.  The Grobet part number is 16.458.  Midway USA and Brownells, both gunsmith supply houses, carry them.  It does not come with a spindle, so a long bolt and a nut were used to make one.  It was chucked up in a small drill press and turned on at a medium speed.  With spinning wire like this, safety glasses are a good idea.  Now this method does require one key at a time to be held against it and cleaned, but it really works.  Less than a minute to clean up a badly tarnished key, and it seems to magically remove the tarnish without leaving a single scratch on the key.  It has turned out to be a sort of wonder tool in the shop—it can clean rust off of chrome plated items without scratching the chrome.  It took a badly rusted pocketknife that someone was about to throw away, and made it almost look like new.  I accidently touched the spinning wheel once or twice with by bare hand, and it did no damage at all (do not try this).  It seems to remove corrosion and tarnish and leave everything else alone.    

Conclusion

So, the final word in cleaning tarnished keys is to get a soft Grobet wire brush and chuck it up in a drill.  One of the cheapest solutions was the quickest, and it might be useful for other things as well. What about you? What have you removed tarnish with? What do you suggest?

By |2019-10-14T09:00:02+00:00October 14th, 2019|All, Keys|0 Comments

Door Closer Footprint Comparison Version 5.0 Released

We have updated the Door Closer Footprint Comparison Chart in the Tools Section. We’re now at Version 5.0 with 41 manufacturers/brands represented across 34 unique footprints and 296 unique models.
As always, footprints are organized by horizontal center-to-center measurements, smallest to largest. If multiple footprints exist with the same horizontal center-to-center measurements, they are further organized by vertical center-to-center measurements, smallest to largest. Manufacturers/brands are organized alphabetically. Column A is freeze paned for the included footprints. Row 1 is freeze paned for the included manufacturer/brands. This means that as you narrow down a specific model/models or manufacturer/brands, this information stays locked in your screen. This allows you to quickly find information.

By |2019-08-27T09:00:18+00:00August 27th, 2019|All, Door Closers, Tools Update|0 Comments

Locksmith News, Notes, and Events – 8/12/19

News

How Safecrackers Can Unlock an ATM in Minutes—Without Leaving a Trace


At the Defcon hacker conference Friday, security researcher Mike Davis will present the results of years of research into a family of electronic safe locks all sold by Switzerland-based lock giant Dormakaba. Over the last two and a half years, Davis has found techniques to crack three different types of the Kaba Mas high-security electronic combination locks the company has sold for securing ATM safes, pharmacy drug cabinets, and even Department of Defense facilities, representing millions of locks around the world. Davis found that he could open many of those ATM and pharmacy locks in as little as five minutes with nothing more than an oscilloscope and a laptop.  [Read More via Wired]

For more news stories like this, please visit our News page.

Notes

ALOA’s 2019 Convention and Security Expo is now underway. As we did last year, we will be sharing pictures and info/updates from the event later this week.
If you are a member of Locksmith Nation and will be at the Convention, we have 3 events planned this week. They are:

  • Locksmith Nation ALOA Breakfast Thursday, August 15th at the Garden Buffet @ South Point 7 – 8 AM.
  • Locksmith Nation ALOA Happy Hour Fiesta Saturday, August 17th at Baja Miguel’s @ South Point 4 – 6 PM.
  • Locksmith Nation ALOA Dinner Saturday, August 17th at Baja Miguel’s @ South Point 6 – 8 PM.

Make sure you stop by and network with your industry peers!

Events

Sunday, August 11th – Saturday, August 17th – 2019 ALOA Convention and Security Expo (Las Vegas, NV)
Tuesday, August 13th – ASSA ABLOY Access Control Training Seminars (Media, PA)
Tuesday, August 13th – Wednesday, August 14th – Security Continuum Workshop (ASSA ABLOY) (Garland, TX)
Wednesday, August 14th – ASSA ABLOY Access Control Training Seminars (Silver Spring, MD)
Thursday, August 15th – ASSA ABLOY Access Control Training Seminars (Richmond, VA)
Friday, August 16th – Saturday, August 17th – Oklahoma Master Locksmith Association August 2019 Classes & Meetrings (Tulsa, OK)
Saturday, August 17th – Jason/SE Lock and Key’s Saturday Morning Live Stream.
For more events like this, please visit our Events page.

By |2019-08-12T09:00:46+00:00August 12th, 2019|All, Locksmith News|0 Comments

Continuous Hinge Installation Webinar Today

As a reminder, Wayne’s Lock Shop will be hosting a free webinar detailing continuous hinge installation later today. The webinar will begin at 6:00 PM EST/5:00 PM CST/4:00 PM MST/3:00 PM EST and will cover the parts, tools, and procedures necessary to perform professional continuous hinge installations. This webinar is very image and video heavy, which makes it one of the most valuable resources for this topic. Click here to register.

By |2019-08-08T09:00:45+00:00August 8th, 2019|All, Wayne's Lock Shop, Webinars|0 Comments

The Professional Locksmith Dictionary Updated

We have updated The Professional Locksmith Dictionary in the Tools section using the terms and definition approved via the last peer review. These include:

  • blade height n. 1. in a cylinder key, the distance from the bottom of the blade to the top of the uncut surface, 2. in a multiply bitted key, the distance from a registration point to the top of the uncut surface
  • blade length n. in a cylinder key, the distance from the tip of the key to the bow stop or the bow
  • blade width n. in a cylinder key, the distance from one non-bitted surface to the opposite non-bitted surface
  • burglar chest n. a small safe, typically with a UL rating, designed to resist burglary attempts
  • buzzer plate n. an automotive ignition component that triggers an alarm when the key is in the ignition and a door is open without the engine running
  • CAI abb. the title ‘Certified ACE Instructor’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CAL abb. the title ‘Certified Automotive Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CEL abb. the title ‘Certified Electronics Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CFDI abb. the title ‘Certified Fire Door Inspector’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CFL abb. the title ‘Certified Forensic Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA, may be followed by a specialty name
  • CHI abb. the title ‘Certified Hardware Installer’ as awarded by ALOA
  • chip key n. one which incorporates or includes an electronic component that communicates with another vehicle component to allow or deny starting; see also, Vehicle Anti-Theft System, transponder key, remote head key, integrated head key
  • CLL abb. the title ‘Certified Licensed Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA for specific states, state name typically can follow the initials
  • clone key n. one that has a transponder that replicates another transponder code
  • cloner n. a device that may be used to replicate an electronic copy of a transponder
  • CMEL abb. the title ‘Certified Master Electronics Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • CMAL abb. the title ‘Certified Master Automotive Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • direct communication n. an access control system which relies solely on information provided at that time from the central computer to grant or deny access
  • distributed intelligence n. an online access control system which is capable of maintaining authorization data locally in case of communication delays or failure
  • ECM abb. Electronic Control Module
  • electronic key n. any key that has an electronic component
  • electronic control module n. an automobile computer that controls all electronic functions of the vehicle
  • flash v. to program an ECM
  • fob n. an object or remote, other than a key, which attaches to a key ring, key or key chain
  • fob key n. a vehicle remote with an attached key blade, and/or other electronic features, which allows the user to start the engine and drive the vehicle
  • grid chart n. a matrix based layout for organizing access points and their corresponding access needs, used primarily in master keying and access control
  • ICML abb. the title ‘Institutional Certified Master Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • ICPL abb. the title ‘Institutional Certified Professional Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • ICRL abb. the title ‘Institutional Certified Registered Locksmith’ as awarded by ALOA
  • immobilizer n. an anti-theft device in an automobile, which prevents starting or driving the vehicle unless an appropriate electronic credential is present
  • incidental master key n. a key combination which operates a cylinder combinated to two or more keys from different levels in a master key system
  • integrated head key n. a remote head fob key that contains a transponder
  • key changes n. the number of different combinations available to use as individual keys for a particular cylinder/lock
  • LH Horizontal v. safe lock mounting when the lock is mounted with the lock bolt pointing to the left when viewed from inside the safe or vault
  • local code precedence see Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)
  • *locksmith n. a person with the knowledge and ability to select, install, service and/or bypass the components of electrical or mechanical locks
  • mocksmith n. an individual who falsely presents himself as a locksmith
  • money chest n. a small safe, typically with a UL rating, designed to resist burglary attempts
  • on-line system n. an access control layout in which a central computer communicates with panels near the openings using either distributed intelligence or direct communication
  • open bottom combination lock n. a combination lock with an opening in the bottom to allow direct entry of a gravity, or pressure, operated lever when the correct combination is dialed
  • precut position n. a specific depth of cut on a key blank that causes otherwise properly cut keys to operate a specific secondary device within the lock, such as a control lug
  • pressure system n. a bolt system that consists of one or more bars that apply closing force to the door as they are rotated into a curved strike
  • relock pin n. a typically spring loaded bolt, designed to engage a safe’s boltwork, when the safe lock is disturbed, and prevent the boltwork from operating
  • remote n. a device for permitting the control of functions, of a lock device or alarm, at a distance
  • remote head key n. a mechanical fob key that has a remote as the bow
  • RH Horizontal v. safe lock mounting when the lock is mounted with the lock bolt pointing to the right when viewed from inside the safe or vault
  • selective change key n. an incidental key whose combination is taken from an individual key and the unique bitting of a selective master key
  • sliding guard tumbler n. a guard tumbler in a single nose safe deposit lock that allows an operating key to unlock after the guard key is turned and removed
  • smart key adj. a key that has a proximity device function to operate a lock
  • sounding device n. an audible annunciator that, when activated, indicates a situation requiring action
  • theoretical master key n. an incidental master key combination that can be cut to operate more than one lock keyed to a MK and a CK in a system
  • time zone n. an access control or alarm condition or authorization rendered at, and limited to, specific regularly occurring periods
  • timing mark n. a mark, usually center punched, on two separate gears or parts to identify correct alignment of those parts
  • turtle prep n. a door preparation using six smaller holes around the face bore, intended to provide for many cylindrical Lever Lock installation layouts, so named because it resembles a creature of the same name
  • ultrasonic motion detector n. a device which utilizes disturbances in sound patterns outside the audible range to determine movement in a protected area
  • valet cut n. a precut position of an automotive key blank, usually at the tip , that causes a properly cut key to operate only the ignition and door

We have also included a link to the 2019 Peer Review.

By |2019-08-07T09:00:40+00:00August 7th, 2019|All, Locksmith Terminology, Tools Update|0 Comments

Locksmith News, Notes, and Events – 8/5/19

News

Doyle Security Products provides Midwestern presence for ABLOY USA’s Distributor Network

Doyle Security Products, a longtime Midwestern locksmith wholesale powerhouse based in Minneapolis, is the latest company to join the ABLOY USA distributor network. The stocking distributor services customers in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin. [Read More via Locksmith Ledger]

Unpatched Flaws in IoT Smart Deadbolt Open Homes to Danger

Researchers have uncovered vulnerabilities in a popular smart deadbolt could allow attackers to remotely unlock doors and break into homes. Making matters worse, the smart door lock manufacturer has not yet acknowledged nor fixed the flaws. [Read More via Threat Post]

Report Says Ring, Police Signed Secret Agreement to Give Away Video Doorbells

Documents obtained by Motherboard show Ring has essentially enlisted law enforcement as salespeople for its video doorbells. [Read More via Security Sales & Integration]

For more news stories like this, please visit our News page.

Notes

As a reminder, Wayne’s Lock Shop will host a free webinar detailing continuous hinge installation this Thursday, August 8th. The webinar will begin at 6:00 PM EST/5:00 PM CST/4:00 PM MST/3:00 PM EST. Click here to register.

Events

Tuesday, August 6th – Rixson product Training (ASSA ABLOY) (Berlin, CT)

Wednesday, August 7th – Door Contols Workshop (ASSA ABLOY) (Berlin, CT)
Thursday, August 8th – Wayne’s Lock Shop Webinar
Thursday, August 8th – Installation and Programming of Norton Auto Operations (ASSA ABLOY) (Berlin, CT)
Thursday, August 8th – Sunday, August 11th – DEF CON 27 (Las Vegas, NV)
Saturday, August 10th – Jason/SE Lock and Key’s Saturday Morning Live Stream.
For more events like this, please visit our Events page.

By |2019-08-05T09:00:39+00:00August 5th, 2019|All, Locksmith News|0 Comments

Cores and Cylinders Library Update

We have updated the Cores and Cylinders page in the Library using our new format.  We have new literature and manuals for the following manufacturers:

  • Arrow Lock & Door Hardware
  • ASSA High Security Locks
  • BEST Access Systems
  • Corbin Russwin
  • DORMA Americas
  • Falcon
  • GMS Industries, Inc.
  • Hager Companies
  • Kaba Ilco Corporation
  • Killeen Security Products (KSP)
  • Kwikset Corporation
  • SARGENT Manufacturing Company
  • Schlage
  • Yale

In the Resources tab we have the following documents:

  • BEST Pin Measurements
  • Creating Pinning Charts for Sargent 6300 LFICs
  • Introductory Locksmithing: Extracting A Broken Key
  • Shimming Cylinders
  • Small Format Interchangeable Cores Video Tutorials
By |2019-08-02T09:00:48+00:00August 2nd, 2019|All, Cores and Cylinders, Tools Update|0 Comments

Continuous Hinge Installation Webinar – August 8th

Waynes Lock Shop has announced an upcoming webinar detailing continuous hinge installation. The webinar will take place on Thursday, August 8th and begin at 6:00 PM EST/5:00 PM CST/4:00 PM MST/3:00 PM EST. This webinar will cover the parts, tools, and procedures necessary to perform professional continuous hinge installations. This webinar is very image and video heavy, which makes it one of the most valuable resources for this topic. Here are a few screenshots to illustrate this point:



 
To register, please contact us and we will send you the registration link.

By |2019-07-30T09:00:57+00:00July 30th, 2019|All, Wayne's Lock Shop, Webinars|1 Comment

Locksmith News, Notes, and Events – 7/29/19

News

Allegion (ALLE) Q2 Earnings and Revenues Miss Estimates

Allegion plc ALLE reported disappointing results for second-quarter 2019, wherein adjusted earnings and revenues lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate. [Read More via NASDAQ]

Lockmaker Assa Abloy Wary on Some Markets as Savings Lift Second-Quarter Profit

Assa Abloy (ASSAb.ST), the world’s biggest lock maker, reported a 28% jump in quarterly profit as savings and price hikes offset higher raw material costs but said uncertainty had increased in some markets such as Brazil, Mexico and Britain. [Read More via Reuters]

Congress Announces Bill Banning Facial Recognition in Public Housing

Yesterday, congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) announced legislation that would prohibit the use of biometric recognition technology in most public and assisted housing units funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with the goal of protecting tenants from “biased surveillance technology,” according to a press release from Pressley. Currently, more than two million residents live in public housing nationwide. This is the first federal legislation restricting biometric technology for use on tenants. [Read More via SDM Magazine]

The Next Great Phase of Physical Access Control

Proprietary systems, closed operating platforms and integrations that require extensive software reprogramming or modifications are finally falling out of favor in the physical security industry. A new horizon based on network-connected and IP-based products is in sight, with the promise of leveraging billions of devices soon. The digital transformation is here, and an industry that embraces and plans for seamless connectivity will be well-poised to take advantage of this rapidly changing landscape. [Read More via Security Info Watch]
For more news stories like this, please visit our News page.

Notes

Waynes Lock Shop has announced an upcoming webinar detailing continuous hinge installation. The webinar will take place on Thursday, August 8th and begin at 6:00 PM EST/5:00 PM CST/4:00 PM MST/3:00 PM EST. We will share additional information for this webinar tomorrow.
The Alabama Locksmith Association has released a few details for their 2020 Annual Trade Show. The show will take place Saturday, March 14th at the Pelham Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Pelham, Alabama. Announced vendors include Jet, Midwest, LAB, Olympus Lock, Trine, Command Access, Transponder Island, and Klassey Keys with more to come. For more information, please visit the Alabama Locksmith Association’s website.

Events

Friday, August 2nd – Saturday, August 3rd – North Carolina Locksmiths Association, Inc. Quarterly Meeting (Hickory, NC)
Saturday, August 3rd – Jason/SE Lock and Key’s Saturday Morning Live Stream.
For more events like this, please visit our Events page.

By |2019-07-29T09:00:47+00:00July 29th, 2019|All, Locksmith News|0 Comments
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