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Bluing tooling

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  • Bluing tooling

    I am trying to reblue a set of 10 indexable tools and having moderate success.

    I removed a all the old bluing with 220 sand paper and then clean the tool with lacquer thinner. Once dried, I used a swab to apply a heavy coat of Birchwood/Casey Super Blue. After the metal turned dark (1 minute or so) I wiped off the excess and cleaned the tool with alcohol, using water as suggested on the bottle seemed counter productive.

    The problem is the bluing is not as dark as the original, more of a dark heat treated color and there are a few streaks. The really smooth edges are the worst. Is this normal? Are there some secrets to getting a better finish?

  • #2
    use Scotchbrite Pad to apply bluing

    Fine (white or grey color) Scotchbrite Blending pads help blend the cold blue solution. A good hardware store should have them. A small piece hot glued on a popsicle stick makes a dandy applicator.

    This works well on mild steel, and most gun barrels I've tried it on. Hope this helps! Joe


    • #3
      these bluing chemicals are a shortcut and aren't going to produce the same quality you'd expect on say a high class gun from slow rust bluing (exposing to acid fumes, boiling, steel wool, repeat until you can't stand it). I know that's not your comparison, just pointing out compared to old fashioned bluing they are a compromise. mind you, as much as slow rust process is a major pita, I think the finish of the piece and the cleanliness of process are the real keys - this would hold true for the kits as well. the I've used the two part kit that kbc sells (precision brands?) and it works ok. This kit has a cleanser of some sort as the first stage, using gloves when you drop it in the second it takes a very even colour. I've also heated parts up and dunked them in oil, produces a black finish. all this gives a better chance against rust, but only a bit.


      • #4
        The problem is the bluing is not as dark as the original, ...
        Are you sure the tools were blued to begin with or blackened?

        The only way I've ever gotten a good bluing is to keep working the bluing with a pad or as Joe says a Scotchbrite. Just wiping it on and waiting usually leaves streaks. If it's not dark enough, keep working it with a fresh application of bluing.


        • #5
          In addition to the other suggestions, heat the part up prior to dunking, does not have to be real hot such as required for Mcgyver method of dunking in oil to blacken but just heated up nicely.



          • #6
            I use Brownell's Oxpho to blue/blacken many items and it works very well but performs better on a slightly roughened surface so my best results come from sand or bead blasting and immediately bluing the part. Hand oils and any other types of residue can adversely affect the results so it needs to be very clean. It's also possible that your lacquer thinner affected the finish - denatured alcohol seems to work better. I have also etched with acid, rinsed and gone immediately into the bluing with very good results - parts look almost black.

            Polished steel seems to blue better with traditional bluing techniques but I am sure there is some trick to using cold blue that I don't know.


            • #7
              I would echo HW's thought to use denatured.

              I've tried Brownell's Oxpho Blue as well as Dicropan T-4, both the cream formulation. Oxpho left a prettier finish in terms of color (more blue), but the Dicropan was darker and less streaky.

              You gotta be religiously clean when trying to do this. Be sure to wear latex gloves or something to keep your finger oil off the parts.



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              • #8
                The suggestions helped, the first one looks much better now.

                I used the Scotchbrite pad and denatured alcohol. I also sanded the one surface that was streaking the worst. I will try the heat on the other tools tomorrow.



                • #9
                  I use the same product and get reasonable (for me) results in three or four applications. Use de-natured alcohol. The scotchbrite pad is a good application method as is OOOO steel wool that has been degreased with brake cleaner to get rid of the oil. Also, I think that they tell you to rinse with water for a specific reason. I find that this product gives more of a black result than blue.


                  • #10
                    Out of interest why are you blueing these tools ?

                    I have a big selection of tools some blacked, some shiney HSS some bent all ways and some what look like bent nails.
                    They all do the same job though regardless of what they look like.


                    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


                    • #11
                      I use the Brownells Oxpho blue for guns. It is about the best cold blue I have found. It takes several applications with fine steel wool between.

                      I'm like John, my toolholders are for using, not show. When used, they eventually aquire a coat of cutting oil and other shop grunge that is a very effective rust preventive.
                      Jim H.


                      • #12
                        What Hannum said about the Oxpho Blue. I have also found out cleanliness and the white scotchbright pads help a lot too. I almost always have to coat and recoat to get a nice even finish.

                        When I want to remove blueing I clean the gun with alcholhol and then use Easy Off Oven cleaner and it comes right off. Then I rinse it under hotwater to remove the oven cleaner and then you'd better be ready to blue asap as while the hotwater is drying off the metal it is already starting to rust. I'd suggest rubber gloves not so much for your safety but to keep finger oils off of everything.
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                        • #13
                          If you want a real gun blue, do the following.

                          If it's a small part, go buy a 1 lb can of lye from the supermarket. Get 1 lb of Ammonium Nitrate or sodium nitrate from the garden store. Go put on some old cloths, rubber gloves, eye glasses AND a full face shield. Get three burners and three stainless steel pots. Put them OUTSIDE. Fill one pot with a gallon of water w/ some TSP in it. Fill one with a gallon of distilled water. Put them on the burners and bring to a boil. Fill the third with a little less than a quart of cold water but don't put on the burner yet.

                          Slowly place the lye into the 1 quart of water. It will heat up. Stir with a large stainless steel spoon. Don't get any on you or you'll be sorry. Once the lye is mixed in the water, slowley add the ammonium or sodium nitrate. Stir again until disolved. Heat until it starts a slow boil.

                          Check the temperature. If it's around 295 F you're good to go. If it boils lower, let some of the water evaporate. If higher, add some water.

                          Boil the part in the boiling TSP water to remove all grease/oil and rinse. Place the part in the boiling distilled water. Remove from distilled water and place in the lye/nitrate solution. When it is at the color you want, remove and rinse in hot water. Soak in water displacing oil. The finer the polish, the finer the bluing will look.

                          I'm typing this form memory so I may be a little off in the proportions or the exact temperature, but this will get in the ballpark.

                          Good luck!


                          • #14
                            Out of interest why are you blueing these tools
                            While some of the tools are new and still in the box, others are used and starting to show rust spots that I assume are the results of the previous owner's coolant. So I have been cleaning them up and preserving them. A perfect bluing is not necessary for this work, but I am using the tools as practice for a project this winter.


                            • #15
                              I use bluing because it looks nice as well as protecting the steel. Where I live rust protection isn't an issue so the primary reason is appearance.

                              John makes a living with his tools and the main appearance that matters is the value in the bank account. I make things as a hobby and to please myself, not the customers. Applying a nice coat of bluing to a part is much more fun than watching Homer Simpson. In fact, so is a visit to the dentist.
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