PRO: Dixon Kerr, window restorer, Richmond, Va.
SECRET: Strip paint from old window sash locks, lifts, and pulleys, then buff the metal to a sheen. "People are always amazed when they see that they already have such nice hardware," says Kerr. Once you've removed all the parts, soak them for up to two days in equal parts of degreaser, such as Simple Green, and ammonia. The paint should slough right off with a little encouragement. Buff the surface using a grinder or drill/driver fitted with a soft-brass brush wheel for brass hardware or a hard-brass one for other metals, such as cast iron. Finish by spraying the hardware with clear lacquer to prevent tarnishing.