Many years ago, before I ever thought about living in a historic home, I was watching an episode of This Old House when they demonstrated a simple method for cleaning years of paint off hardware. I stuck that little nugget in my long-term memory — just in case. Fast forward about 20 years and here I was, faced with a set of hinges with at least 8 coats of paint on them, and I decided to try the This Old House method. Guess what? It worked like a charm! So here is the process for you, along with photos — Enjoy.
Important note: Keep in mind that you may be working with lead-based paint. If you do any scraping or sanding, use the wet method so you don’t create dust and paint chips. Clean all the residue up with a wet cloth so no dry dust is released into the air. Once you remove all the paint from the hinges, wrap the paint up in a plastic grocery bag and throw it away while it is still wet.