Maintaining vintage door hardware requires tools such as a screwdriver, a wrench and a utility knife, as well as supplies such as water, vinegar, lubricants, brushes, steel wool and paper towels. The specific items needed vary depending on what sort of maintenance is required for a particular set of hardware.
Common problems for vintage door hardware include loose and slipping or tight and unyielding components, unattractive painted-over exteriors and the general wear associated with older mechanisms. Components such as the spindle, latch spring and deadbolt spring wear out over time and may require replacement depending on condition.
Malfunctioning components, whether too tight or loose, require full disassembly of the set. The knob is first removed, often held in place by a set screw that attaches to the spindle. After removing one knob and extracting the spindle, unscrew the lock face screws that run into the door. The lock face of vintage sets are often held in place by previous layers of paint; scoring around the edge with a utility knife frees the lock case. Removing and individually cleaning the components of the lock system with steel wool and an industrial lubricant such as WD-40 put them back in working order. Vintage door hardware typically has numerous components, so care should be taken to keep careful track of where each piece goes.
The process to remove paint from vintage door hardware exteriors differs by material. Metal and ceramic pieces are submerged into gently boiling or hot water to loosen and peel away the paint. Glass knobs, which are susceptible to cracking under extreme temperatures, should be polished with a rag dipped in a warm mixture of vinegar and water until clean.