View Full Version : Tool black?

Doc Nickel
11-15-2004, 11:29 PM
I'm just starting to make some new QC toolpost blocks for my A-series Phase-II lathe toolpost.

The stock blocks are 1"x1-1/2" (by whatever length) so I bought a 3' bar of 1X1-1/2" hotrolled mild steel flatbar. I'll be chopping it up, tapping for the setscrews, yadda yadda.

My main goal is to make some blocks that take carbide inserts directly (rather than clamping a carbide toolholder into the tool block.)

Anyway, I want to "black" them, when I'm done, so they more or less match my original blocks. It's a surface-blackening that looks a lot like gun-blue, except more blackish. It seems pretty durable too, since I've been using this set for several years, and they show little wear.

Is there a good, quality method or formula for blackening raw steel? Doesn't have to be "flat" black or "gloss" black, it just needs to be a somewhat rust-preventative surface prep that comes close to matching my existing toolpost blocks.


11-15-2004, 11:39 PM
Doc,if your refering to the tool black kits,I have tried it several times,it does work,but it isn't very good at preventing rust IMHO,just makes the parts look good.

Doc Nickel
11-16-2004, 12:47 AM
Well, the "preventing rust" part has more to do with fingerprints and such, than trying to protect it from rain. I don't use flood coolants, just oil and WD40 as cutting lubes, so there's not that much too worry about.

What tool black kit? Is there a homebrew formula?


Dick Plasencia
11-16-2004, 02:02 AM
Coat the part to be blackened with motor oil and bake at 350 to 400 degrees until the oil has solidified or evaporated and the part is black. This coating is rust and scratch proof. It's what they used 100 years ago and it works fine for me. I have some parts in daily use and they show no wear.

If you are using the kitchen oven wait until your wife is gone for a few hours. It does create a lot of smoke. I use a hot plate in the shop and simply place the part on the burner.


11-16-2004, 10:18 AM
We use the metal blackening chemicals available from Eastwood Co. (www.eastwoodco.com). We restore carburetor butterflies, shafts, screws, etc and it works very well if done properly. The key is for the surface to be absolutely clean and oil/residue free.
I believe it's also available from Caswell Plating.
Some of the gun mag's have ads for blue-ing kits, etc which work as well too.
Hope that helps, and let us know if you need a part # from Eastwood, I'll dig it up.
I prefer this method to the oil baking because of the time saved and I get less bruises from the wife punchin' me for using her oven... LOL!


Al Flipo
11-16-2004, 10:31 AM
Use the Oxpho-Blue from Brownells, it gives you a nice deep black-blue finish, about $10 for a 4FL. bottle.

11-16-2004, 10:33 AM
You can try what Dick said only using an outdoor grill instead of the kitchen oven. A toaster oven might work just as well and you could set that outside while things are cooking.

I like his hot plate idea the best.

Doesn't every shop need a hot plate? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Lynn Standish
11-16-2004, 11:14 AM
Give your local gunsmith a call and ask if he does his own blueing or where he has it done (sometimes there is a guy in town that most of the gunsmiths farm to). On something like you are talking about, the charge for a hot black oxide treatment should be nominal. You could probably get several done for 15 - 20 bucks.

11-16-2004, 12:10 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Al Flipo:
Use the Oxpho-Blue from Brownells, it gives you a nice deep black-blue finish, about $10 for a 4FL. bottle. </font>

I have used their stuff on gun parts before, worked real nice. I just wish I knew what the composition of the stuff was. Maybe something available, not a special cocktail. Then I would make a gallon an coat all my stuff perty. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif JRouche

Paul Alciatore
11-16-2004, 12:25 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by KPLugnut:
We use the metal blackening chemicals .........I prefer this method to the oil baking because of the time saved and I get less bruises from the wife punchin' me for using her oven... LOL!


Excuse me, but if I wash OUR dishes and vacuum OUR carpet and wash OUR car and pay OUR bills, why/how is it HER oven?

And yes, I'm married to the same wonderful woman for over 35 years now. Not a newbee.

Paul A.

11-16-2004, 01:09 PM
I found a local(DEtroit Metro Area) plater that would do batches of parts in black oxide for 30 bucks up to 100 lbs. , drop it off by 6pm and it would be ready by 6 am.A look in the phone book could save you some time, and money, and give you the same finish that is on your tool post.

11-16-2004, 01:12 PM
Sorry, Paul, didn't mean to hit a nerve there by any means. I'm in fact a VERY good husband and father, and was only trying to make a little joke. :-)
I share equally, as you do, in every part of my family's daily responsibilities, and like you, have a "slight" problem understanding those who treat their spouses like dirt...

Have a good one,

11-16-2004, 01:19 PM
I bead blast the item first so the black last longer. Ruffed up surface wears better, holds more oil.
My local Gun shop just adds my stuff when they blue. No charge. It pays to make friends.
You can get the hot bluing salts from Brownells if you want to do it yourself. The directions from them are free, if you want to look before you leap.

[This message has been edited by Tinker2 (edited 11-16-2004).]

11-16-2004, 01:38 PM
I have used "Birchwood Casey's" cold blue,
It comes out black. You can get it from most
gun shops. I wash the part in hot water and Dawn dishwashing soap then dry and coat with cold blue. Leave on for about two minutes and rinse in hot water and oil.

Al Flipo
11-16-2004, 01:55 PM
If you use Oxpho-Blue once, you will toss that Birchwood-Casey in the garbage, you don’t need to super clean the parts either.

Doc Nickel
11-16-2004, 04:37 PM
Thanks for the replies so far...

Two problems though: I'm in a small backwater Alaska town. That means no gunsmiths that do their own blueing (it's all sent out) and Eastwood, for example, can't/won't ship the black oxide chemicals. (Probably because they need to go UPS Ground, a service unavailable up here.)

Does anyone have any homebrew formulas? I've tried the motor-oil thing in the past, and was... shall we say, unsatisfied with the results. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif


Doc Nickel
11-16-2004, 04:45 PM
Just checked- Brownells' won't ship the bluing/blacking chemicals up here either.


11-16-2004, 05:22 PM
Catalog page: 228
Stock number: 825-001-000
Book name: Firearms Bluing & Browning Price: $19.95

R. H. Angier. 155 pages. 51/2" x 81/2". Hardbound. A practical treatise covering the art of rust-type gun bluing. Some 300 formulae for various steels and processes with complete instructions, explaining how guns can be oxidized with solutions compounded at home. For the gunsmith or hobbyist.

I have this book somewhere?? It’s worth having.

11-16-2004, 05:29 PM
Cold bluing:

Dissolve the following in 5 ounces of water:
2 ounces of ferric chloride
2 ounces of antimony chloride (poisonous!)
1 ounce of gallic acid.

Apply uniformly with glass wool and expose to the air for 24 hours. Wash in hot water and air dry. Lightly coat with oil.

11-16-2004, 08:12 PM
Doc,KBC,MSC and a few others that sell the "Precision" brand keystock,shimstock etc,they also make a toolblack kit,runs about $39.00,comes with a cleaner,blackener,and protective oil.
It works okay,probably will last for what you need,but the parts color the best after a good beadblast.Also clean cotton gloves should be worn to prevent skin oil from your fingers from contaminating the parts before treatment.I did find that disc brake cleaner was the ticket for cleaning before dipping the parts.

11-16-2004, 09:06 PM
perhaps a "guilder" could smuggle you some up there. Got anything of value to trade, like a 10 rnd pack ore something?

really. I would like to order some for myself ASAP. if you'd like I could order extra and trade them fore some spare sherridan parts or something?


11-16-2004, 09:42 PM
Here's a home hot blue formula:

Haven't tried it myself. - Jim

11-16-2004, 10:15 PM
Hi Al,
I also have a bottle of oxpho-blue and agree it's very good. I have been using Birchwood Caseys cold blue on very small projects like gun parts with satisfactory results. Birchwood Caseys products are good and relatively inexpensive to try and can
be purchsed local.

11-16-2004, 10:22 PM
When I was a youngster I used to boil my
muskrat traps in black walnut hulls to put a black finish on them.

Doc Nickel
11-17-2004, 07:05 AM
Well, I'm batting 1.000 http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

No local suppliers of any of the above listed chemicals, the lady at the feed store was highly suspicious of my asking for "ammonium nitrate", I confirmed that neither company will ship the blacking chemicals up here, and nobody has black walnut shells.

I can get Casey's Cold Blue (in 1-oz bottles) from half a dozen local suppliers, that's no problem. I've been told the cold blue isn't all that durable though...

It was also starting to look a lot like I was going to have to spend some serious coin on chemicals and supplies, like tubs and heaters. The point was to save money. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif I start blowin' $150 in materials just to black these things, I might as well buy a bunch of blocks straight from Grizzly at $20 a pop... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Sergei- if you want to give that a whirl, I'm all for it. You'll have to bug me for any parts or mods after the first of the year though, I'm in bench-clearing mode at the moment.

I'd like to get one of the larger bottles, since I'll be doing a dozen or more of these blocks, and considering the difficulty, I'd be wise to keep extra on hand.

Drop me an E-mail and we can hammer out the details.

Thanks everyone.

11-17-2004, 07:55 AM
I heard a story once that a blacksmith was working and his wife called him to supper nad so he didn't want to leave the hot metal piece sitting around, and so on his way to the house he tossed it into a cow pattie. The next day when he was going back to the barn/shop whatever he picked up the piece and found that it had a nice black oxide finish on it and further found that it did not rust and the finish remained in tact.

Now I know you don't want to go sticking things in cow patties, but I also have heard from a blacksmith that burnt motor oil will do the same thing. Heat the object and plunge it in to the oil and it will form a carbonized (?) layer to protect it.


11-17-2004, 01:33 PM
Doc, if you are in Alaska, I would check with a trapping supply house for trap dye, it comes in several forms , including a cold dip process and several boiling process. A substitute for Walnut hulls can also be found in any tree bark/leaves with a high tannic acid content,Ash,Aspen and a few others. The tannic acid in the walnut hulls leaves a very nice black . you might have to soak them in a little oil to help with the rust protection.

11-17-2004, 04:19 PM
As I remember
Remmington’s rust bluing process:
In the old original shop Remmington and all his workers urinated on all the parts
that were to be blued. after a few day they used steel wool or something to clean
off the rust then boiled the parts in water (The water is the difference between rust brown and rust blue ) To rust blue you only need something to make it rust.(battery acid?) It doesn’t mater what you use. Put whatever type of finish you want like, Polished, bead blast or as machined. Clean it, rust it, steel wool it, repeat till it is as dark as you want. Boil it in distilled water for 30 min. to 1 hour. More time is more durable (one half hour is fine) Coat in oil for three or four days, it appears to absorb it.
I use a power wire wheel ( not stainless ) to card off the surface rust. I will rust it
maybe five times. I clean off all the surface rust each time. It is a lot of work but
does make a very fine and durable finish.

[This message has been edited by Tinker2 (edited 11-17-2004).]

11-17-2004, 05:01 PM
Been lurking for just this thread subject--

Ever hear about the new recruits, only days into this man's army, who had just been issued brand new rifles so they could learn to disassemble, clean, reassemble, memorize the serial number, protect, cherish and love as only a good soldier should?

Seems the new rifles were still preserved in Cosmolene, and some wise arse suggested that if they would stack the pieces in the shower, and let real hot water run on them overnight, that they would be realllllllllly clean come tomorrow morning.;D


11-21-2004, 11:48 AM
The lathe "T" handle in the photo link below (yea I know, "Don't leave that #$@% handle in the chuck) was made a while back and the CRS "T" was heated until a dull red color, and diped into oil as suggest earlier in this post. Hasn't rusted yet. Good luck.


[This message has been edited by rockrat (edited 11-21-2004).]