December 10, 2012
A Tour of Empire Metal Finishing
A few years ago, my television crew paid a visit to Empire Metal Finishing, Inc., located in Astoria, New York. We shot a segment in this facility about how old metal pieces are stripped, restored, refinished, and repurposed. Third generation owner, Michael Vetrone, explained that his family business was established in 1906. The focus of the business is servicing high-end residential architects, fabricators, contractors, antique dealers, and interior designers. Their main function is custom plating, polishing, metal restoration, and repair, as well as building custom pieces from scratch. I had some rather worn silver plated trays that I found at a tag sale, which were in desperate need of refinishing. I asked Michael if he could make them beautiful again and indeed, he did.
1 This is the entrance to Empire Metal Finishing located in Astoria, New York.
2 The facility is 12,000 square feet, employing a staff of 30 highly-skilled people.
3 Refinishing metal calls for many deep tubs filled with various solutions for stripping and coating.
4 This is one of the trays I wanted to have refinished.
5 This large rectangular one barely had any silver plating left at all!
6 And this one had lost all of its luster.
7 Other projects in the workroom - This is store-bought doorknob that a customer brought in as an example of the finish that they want matched onto outlet covers and other fixtures.
8 The outlet covers - a work in progress
9 These hinges are from a hotel. After a remodel, the hotel doors were larger and heavier and the hinges needed to be made bigger to accommodate. You can see the welding line, which will disappear after polishing.
10 There are many steps to refinishing and various types of finish. After dipping in the plating solution, metal objects are hung to dry.
11 This newly nickel-plated fire engine bell belongs to Eastport Fire Department on Long Island. It was brought in to the shop very abused.
12 An Art Deco nickel-plated object received a new eye and a bright and shiny finish.
13 This custom-made lighting fixture was created from a customer's blueprint design.
14 The completed fixture
15 This radiator cover-grill was made new by copying the design on the left.
16 Comparing old and new - the craftsmanship is superb.
17 A client would like this ceiling fixture stripped down to bare metal - not a problem for this shop!
18 These are the pieces of two large door locks all newly refinished in brass.
19 These pieces will be getting an antiqued finish.
20 Little cherub pieces
21 The rectangle objects are salt and pepper shakers, which are getting a shiny clear-coat finish.
22 The end product
23 These are pieces of a pedestal belonging to a church with a clear-coat drying.
24 More pieces
25 These hinge parts were originally finished in brass and now are nickel-coated.
26 Brass screws are now nickel-coated to match.
27 These are the plans for a custom-designed chandelier that Empire Metal was asked to create.
28 According to the plans, leaves were to radiate out from the top.
29 Each piece of the chandelier was created in the shop.
30 The finished project
31 Here are my trays.
32 Owner Michael Vetrone holding one of those trays, which had been stripped, polished, repaired, and refinished.
33 It's very beautiful.
34 Remember what this one looked like?
35 So nicely silver again
37 Lovely detail
38 Quite handsome