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True blue steel hardware - where did it go ?

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  • True blue steel hardware - where did it go ?

    Just inherited a number of sizes of blued steel wood screws which are really BLUE, not black oxide like gun "bluing".

    I recall seeing this kind of hardware on antique clocks and other antiques. So, how was it done and when did it fade away? Den

  • #2
    they were heated to turn blue. A clock/watch repair guide my discuss this, but look in older books (early 1900's). I guess they were stopped when the mfgr wanted to reduce costs. Today I'd be happy to buy plain steel screws without the zinc plating.


    • #3
      I picked up a number of boxes of plain steel slotted screws also (emptying my FIL's house for sale). Was going to leave them behind but figured they might come in handy on woodworking projects. You sure get spoiled by other head/drive types though.


      • #4
        Colt used to have a Royal Blue finish that always amazed me for it's beauty.

        Heat is one way to get a blue screw but it's an extremely fragile finish. Using screwdrivers that aren't hollow ground will betray the use of heat real quick! Colt actually blued theirs but I don't think it was a salt process but rather a mixture of bone/leather smoldering in a covered vat that circulated the guns thru the air currents in the vat. A similar process is still used today for the case hardening that leaves all the pretty colors. Cyanide along with bone/leather is used in that process I believe.

        The "blueing" of today is actually "blacking" and not nearly as pretty as Royal Blue of Colt fame.
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        • #5
          If you want to get rid of the zinc...

          Just give them a bath in muriatic acid, that will strip off the zinc and leave you with plain steel.
          James Kilroy


          • #6
            'Way back when, we took for granted the blued items of yesterday, such mundane things as blued stovepipe. Now, when I'd dearly love to get my hands on some, I realize what a treasure it was, back then.

            Too soon oldt und too late schmart.

            So many projects. So little time.


            • #7
              There were several methods of bluing, including heat bluing, Carbonia, and nitre bluing. I think the Colt Royal Blue may have been the Carbonia but not sure. Just a little surfing would tell you. The nitre blue is easy to use and more durable than heat bluing. A little surfing will get you all the details you need to do that.