Paint removal usually requires a highly toxic chemical to get the job done, but for small metal objects, DIY site The Family Handyman recommends dropping your paint-coated hardware into a slow cooker with some water.
Obviously you don't want to go grabbing your favourite slow cooker off the shelf for this, but if you have an old one collecting dust or you score one cheap at a thrift store, the paint removal process is incredibly simple. Fill the slow cooker with water, set the dial to high, drop whatever hardware you want to strip paint from inside and leave it overnight. You do need to be careful what type of material and paint you're working with though. The Family Handyman explains:
This works on oil, latex and spray paints, but it may not remove some clear finishes like lacquer. Cooking the hardware may stain or contaminate the pot, so use an old one or buy a new one for less than $US20. This method won't harm hardware made of non-rusting metals like copper, brass or aluminium.
You'll end up with a little rust on steel -- not enough to ruin hidden parts like hinge pins or screws, but possibly enough to roughen shiny surfaces. If the steel has a plating like chrome or brass and the plating is already flaking off, this method will cause more flaking.
As a chemical-free and no-hassle paint removal process it might come in handy for hardware like hinges or window locks. Have some paint-removal tricks of your own?