Restoration & Design Studio 201-321-2342
Fixing and Polishing Broken Metal,
New York Times, August 2, 1990
by Darlyn Brewer
Paul Karner of Restoration and Design Studio said he would restore "anything in metal," from knives and candlesticks to sterling silver hand mirrors. Mr. Karner also repairs many small items with sentimental value. "But they say it was their grandmother's and they want it," he said. So he fixes it.
Mr. Karner, who learned his trade in his native Czechoslovakia, opened his shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 1987 on the day of a blinding snowstorm. Despite the weather, he was busy that day, he said, and has been ever since. At his one-man shop, he solders, polishes and lacquers brass, copper, bronze, tin, iron, pewter, and silver.
Scattered around his tiny shop are a bronze chandelier with a broken arm, a dented pewter vase in need of straightening and a cracked copper- and-iron andiron.
"I get a lot of goodies," said Mr. Karner, who particluarly likes detailed and challenging work. "That's why I love this business. Every time you work on something different, and it's always beautiful."
Mr. Karner can even repair such hard-to-find items as the ivory handles on sterling silver coffee pots.
He refinishes and repairs hardware like hinges, curtain tiebacks and doorknobs. He can also duplicate hardware. He fabricated decorative leaves for a brass lantern. "I can reproduce pieces, whether from casting or doing it by hand," he said.
Mr. Karner also repairs and rewires lamps and makes lighting fixtures. "If somebody comes in and tells me they have a base and want to make a lamp out of it, I'll make one," he said.
He said that broken metal should not be glued. "Nine out of 10 times it's not going to hold, and it makes it more expensive to repair because you have to remove the glue," he said. "The piece has to be 100% clean before you can solder it."
Mr. Karner also offered some advice on the care of silver. "People put it in plastic bags with a rubber band around it," he said. "Rubber has a certain chemical that reacts with silver, so even if it is outside the plastic bag, the silver will oxidize much faster.
Sometimes the black spots that appear are too deep to be removed with silver polish, he said, and so, "It may have to be treated chemically before you can polish it."
He also said people make the mistake of leaving salt in silver shakers, which pits the silver. "If nothing else, put dry rice in it so that it will absorb the moisture."