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Polishing a Plaque so it Pops

Happy new year! We had a lovely vacation at Progressive Bronze, and now that we are back to work it’s time to highlight some more projects we’ve been working on.

Toward the end of November the Lyons, IL Fire Department contacted us regarding a plaque that was installed when their firehouse when it was renovated in 1973. I am a big fan of plaques generally – I read just about every one I come across – so I was happy to hear they were looking to refinish. Understandably, after nearly 40 years it was starting to show some signs of age, and one of the firefighters was tasked with trying to clean it up a bit. When he realized the job would probably require a few weeks of non-stop hand polishing, he called us. When we got it, it looked like this:

And where they had tried to clean it up:

Not bad, but not what they wanted.

The plaque itself is just a big (and quite heavy) piece of cast bronze. Because of the material and thickness, it’s actually not terribly difficult to refinish. The only real hitch in the giddyup with something like this is that it’s a bit unwieldy to work with. Luckily we’ve got strong guys working the polishers.

There were a couple of options here for the firefighters to consider. Everyone was agreed that the lettering and border should be refinished in high polish, but what about the fields the lettering is set on? It has a bit of a texture to it, so we could do it in a satin bronze, but we could also give it a statuary finish, which is dark, and would make the letters really pop. We decided to get it cleaned up first, and let the firefighters decide from there. Here is what it looked like mid-way:

The firefighters decided they liked it with the light background, so we went ahead with the high polish letters and satin fields. We also wanted to lock in the look for a long time to come, so we added our outdoor lacquer which will keep this plaque bright and shiny for many years to come. Here is what the final product looked like:

The firefighters were delighted with the look, and so are we! If you have any projects with bronze, brass, or plated items that need a bit of a refresh, contact us. We’re happy to help!

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