Metal label removal


WCHA 7403
I just started my first restoration project by removing the outwales, canvas, seats, etc. This 1939 Old Town HW came to me with a metal label on the stern deck, showing the original purchaser as Macy's in New York. I'd like to preserve what remains of the label (now barely readable), and was planning to remove it prior to stripping the varnished wood surfaces. The label is attached with two brads, both of which are securely anchored in the deck wood. And the metal is too light weight to pry up to loosen the nails. I tried to get a razor edge under the head of the brad, but they're in there really tight. Any suggestions for getting this label off? or should I just mask it with painters tape and start the stripping? If that's the solution, I just hope the tape adhesive doesn't remove any more of the lettering on the label.
Thanks for your ideas......
Allo Sturt. The way you write it makes us beleive that the plate is fragile . I would just be careful around that plate with the varnish stripper. Maybe, like you said , put masking tape on the plate but still be carefull with the remover. Use a sharp scrapper to clean the area around it. You should be successful that way. Sometime, you have to be daredevil. Go for it! Good luck with the project Sandpiper
Or very carefully drill off the heads of the brads.

If you do, be sure to center punch with a sharp fine punch and use a new small drill at high speed.

If you can get just the head off, you might still be able to grab the brad with a small sidecutter to remove it, otherwise just grind it flush (with a small dremal grinder) and reinstall just above or below.

Thanks for the ideas. Yes, Benson, the label is like the R.H. Macy tag in your photo. The clarity of a new recreation would be good, but there's something about the old look of the barely readable original. What's the format and cost of the high-resolution scan?
I like Dan's idea of drilling off the head of the brads.


  • OT HW Macy tag.jpg
    OT HW Macy tag.jpg
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I can send you a high resolution scan for free as an electronic mail attachment in the format of your choice. Let me know if you want to pursue this option. My personal preference is for the old original look over a reproduction as well.

There is another option. Labels like these are restorable. In some cases, the background of the label can be blackened chemically, and the surface features cleaned of the chemical agent before it has time to oxidize the lettering and border. Alternatively, the label can be painted and the surface features either cleaned of paint while it is still wet or tacky, or scraped of paint after it has gotten fairly well set but not fully cured.