Cold bluing - or rather, Browning?


March 28, 2009, 03:51 PM
I bought myself a pair of Lyman Great Plains pistol kits in .50 a while back, and would like to blue the barrels with a contemporary look - which i believe was more brown in color than blue. I have very limited experience with bluing in general, and haven't come across brown-colored gun blue. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Which brand, from where, submersed for roughly how long, and what to do with the tub full of potent chemicals after i'm done with the barrels, are all questions that come to mind.

I'm also going to stick a couple knife blades i made a while back in there, while i'm at it.

Many thanks for you input - Desidog

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March 28, 2009, 04:31 PM
Go to Birchwood Casey web site then to gun finishes and you will find what you need to "Brown" your metal. It is not difficult and it really looks good.

March 28, 2009, 04:51 PM
Art's Belgian Blue from Brownells or Midway well give you light to dark blue. Depends on how many coats. You submerse item in boiling water, remove, dry and apply bluing, submerse again, then card off, more coats the darker it is. If you put the time into it it well revival professional bluing.

With blue or brown, the preparation is key. The better the finish before you apply the better the end results. Impossible for item to be to clean before you start.

March 28, 2009, 05:33 PM
How about the urine method, since i have-it-in-hand, so to speak?

hang the barrels off the back porch, and stop by once in a while for a few days? it might require too much precision shooting to get an even coat!

I'd like to see pictures if anyone has done this successfully.

I'm also debating the merits between Birchwood Casey, and Laurel Mountain.

March 28, 2009, 05:34 PM
oh, wait - on rereading, that sounds really wrong! of the gun only please!

March 28, 2009, 05:42 PM
If you want a true rust brown finish you have two main options: hot browning with Birchwood Casey's Plum Brown or cold browning with Laurel Mountain Forge Degreaser and Browning Solution, both available from several mail order retailers. There are other brands of cold browning available, but I've only seen one hot brown solution.

With either product be sure to finish the metal with about a 320 grit wet sandpaper; any finer and you will have some difficulty getting the finish to appear uniform (it can be done but takes more coats). You can use 220 grit for a more antique finish if you want. Also, degreasing is important (critical with BC product, important with LMF product)

The key to the hot brown product is heat, evenly supplied and in sufficient quantity. I suspend the parts or mount them on wooden dowels so they do not need to be touched and then heat them slowly and evenly with a propane torch. When they reach the point where a drop of water will sizzle and dance (about 260 deg F) they are ready to be browned. Apply the solution with a cotton swab; it should boil away quickly leaving a brown, rusty finish behind. If it does not boil on application, reheat the metal. When the metal has cooled to the touch wash the surface with clear water and a rough, heavy cloth such as denim. Apply additional coats to get the depth of brown you want and to cover any uneven areas.

The LMF comes with excellent instructions so I'll not repeat them here. The key to all the cold solutions is ambient humidity. Build a sweatbox to put the parts in (again, suspend or mount the parts so they do not have to be handled) and keep the environment humid within the box for 3 hours. I simply attach my mounting fixtures to a sawhorse and place it in a basement bathroom with a shower; turn on the hot water and wait for the room to steam up. Then apply the solution, close the door and go away for 3 hours. Card the parts per the instructions.

The BC product can be done in as little as one coat, although two or three are usually required. Since each coat only takes a few minutes, and you can apply the next coat immediately after washing and drying the parts you can finish a gun's metal in a few hours. The LMF solution will require 3 to 5 or 6 coats, and since each coat takes 3 hours to cure it can run to a couple of days to complete the gun's parts.

With either solution you can boil the parts in distilled water to create a rust blue finish, which is a very nice, very dark blue-black finish that is very attractive and quite authentic.

Once you've gotten the finish you want, oil or wax the metal to arrest any further rusting. This oil or wax coat is best applied to a warm, not hot, metal surface.

March 28, 2009, 06:43 PM
I've never done browning, but if I wanted to, I can't think of a better resource than mykeal's posts. Big thumbs up!

March 28, 2009, 09:23 PM
Thank you, sir.

From the school of hard knocks:

If you do the hot browning it's best to have a very well ventilated area; the fumes are really nasty. I don't know if they're toxic, but SWMBO will NOT be happy.

If you do the cold browning, and use the hot shower in the bathroom method, take your glasses off and leave them outside before you start, or you WILL knock the fixture over and spoil everything trying to find the door to get out. This method also has a SWMBO switch, so it's best if you have a 'utility' or 'man's room' bathroom, maybe in the garage...

March 29, 2009, 12:02 AM
With either solution you can boil the parts in distilled water to create a rust blue finish, which is a very nice, very dark blue-black finish that is very attractive and quite authentic.

Could I get a little more info on this? I'm getting ready to blue a barrel(hopefully) soon. :uhoh: The dark blue-black sounds interesting.

March 29, 2009, 03:08 AM
Rather simple really.

cold blue.

Black and blue.

more black and blue.

and brown (LMF)

more brown

The LMF stuff is super nice indeed. You can get a range of results depending on how you put it on.

My personal say on the matter is this: depends on the object!

March 29, 2009, 07:52 AM
Rust Bluing

Here is a link to the Laurel Mountain Forge web site instructions page for using their solution. These instructions are included in the package with the solution so you don't need to copy them or bookmark the page. They include instructions on how to do the rust bluing (boiling the browned parts to create the dark blue-black color).
LMF Browning Solution Instructions (

March 29, 2009, 01:32 PM
Many thanks all. I'm going to follow mykeal's advice; and might try the rust bluing technique with distilled water. I just put in an order with Laurel Mountain Forge.

I'm going to try to photo-document the build, so hopefully in a few months you'll see how it turns out - of course, i'll probably be asking some more questions around here in the interim.

Best, desidog

March 29, 2009, 03:21 PM
A word of advice on using LMF: the first coat will look terrible; it will be blackish with lots of ugly scale patches and uneven spots. Don't let that worry you. Just follow the instructions and it will gradually even up and come out a deep brown finish after a couple more coats. Once you've gotten a good solid brown, then go for the rust blue.

March 30, 2009, 09:05 AM
Blacknet & mykeal, thanks so much for the pics & info. This forum is a blessing and also a wealth of info. I really like that blue-black and am going to try it on my CVA Hawken 50 & 54 barrels.

If, by some wierd chance I goof it up, it can be removed with blue and rust remover, right?

March 30, 2009, 09:25 AM
OH yes you can remove it and reapply many times. Just look at what mess I created when I did my kentucky flint.

They say success is measured by the number of failures you do. In this case plenty. Dont be disappointed, shocked or hurt if the first one does not turn out perfect but try to learn from your mistakes.

March 30, 2009, 10:01 PM
Cool, sounds fool-proof. (till they build a better fool:evil:)

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