Rust bluing is a process to help prevent steel objects, typically firearms, from rusting. The process applies a fine layer of rust which then can hold oil and prevent the metal from rusting further. Rust bluing uses red oxide Fe2O4 which converts to black oxide Fe2O3 during boiling of the metal in water. Rust bluing process may take many applications before you obtain the desired finish.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Cotton balls
- Distilled water
- Steel wool
- Wire wheel
Take the weapon apart and lay out the sections that will be part of the rust bluing process.
Use 120 grit wet sandpaper to remove any current surface rust, scratches or other dings. Wet the sandpaper after every few minutes of sanding to keep the grit sharp and free of steel dust. Move up to 320 grit sandpaper to remove any scratches the 120 grit sandpaper may have left. If you want a smoother finish, move up to 400 grit sandpaper.
Cork the barrel of the gun with tightly fitting corks at the muzzle and breech of the weapon. You do not need to rust the inside parts of the gun.
Place browning solution onto cotton balls. Hold the cotton balls with tweezers. Swab the metal parts youwill rust with the solution. Do not leave pools of solution on the metal. The metal may discolour and not be in an attractive pattern initially. Expect this. You will need to complete this process multiple times to achieve the finished look you want.
Let the metal sit undisturbed from 3 to 12 hours depending on the temperature and humidity conditions. The hotter and more humid, the less time you will need for the bluing process. Use a tent with hot water tubs if the humidity in your area is low.
Prepare a hot water bath for the rusted parts. Use only distilled water. Tap water has minerals that will react with the metal, causing it to stay brown and not blue. Bring the water to a boil and place the metal parts into the hot water bath. Let the metal boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the bath and cool the parts.
Remove excess rust from the gun. To achieve a higher gloss finish, use steel wool or a wire wheel and work to remove the excess rust. If you want a more matt finish, use cloth and toothbrushes to remove the excess rust.
Repeat steps 4 through 7 to add additional layers of rust bluing. Expect at least 4 separate applications to achieve a solid, consistent base finish on each piece of metal.
Tips and warnings
- Complete the rust bluing process in a well ventilated place or outdoors. Browning solutions have harsh chemicals that should not be inhaled.
- Practice on a piece of metal that you can experiment with before attempting the rust bluing process on your weapons or other valuable materials.
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