Rebluing with Cold Blue - what do you experts do?


March 17, 2004, 12:18 PM
So, I got my Star BM and Mak from SOG yesterday.

The BM is in pretty good shape (no rust or damage, clean bright bore) and the slide has a uniform, DARK, well-polished blue finish.

The frame, on the other hand, is not as well-blued, and the bluing is worn through almost completely on the front and back strap.

I picked up some birchwood casey cold blue "PermaBlue" and basically just degreased the areas and applied some of the bluing solution with a rag.

Results were unimpressive - although the metal is no longer "near-white", it is still not blued properly and looks very inconsistent.

What am I missing? While I understand that cold blue DIY won't be able to produce the look of the slide's finish, I'd at least like to get it uniformly dark and consistent enough so that I don't need to worry (excessively) about rust.

Any helpful hints? This is my first attempt at finish work and I think I may be missing something...

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March 17, 2004, 12:56 PM
I used Blue Wonder's blueing kit on my BM. The slide came out GREAT, but the frame didn't work so well. I might not have gotten it completely degreased. I'm going to try again. If that fails, I'm going to try Brownells' Oxphoblue. I've heard good things about it.


Walt Sherrill
March 17, 2004, 01:36 PM
I've used a combination of Brownell's Oxy-Pho blue and G96 bluing paste. Together they did well. But preparation is the key. (I've got some Novum Solutions "Blue Wonder" to use next time...)

March 17, 2004, 03:15 PM

But preparation is the key.

could you elaborate on that? Other than degreasing the metal, what else should I be doing?

Dave P
March 17, 2004, 03:55 PM
Did you try multiple coats? Steel wool in-betweeen, and don't touch with your fingers?

March 17, 2004, 04:22 PM
how much abrading should I do with the steel wool - I thought that would remove the current finish?

Walt Sherrill
March 17, 2004, 06:58 PM

Spotlessly clean, wear cotton gloves. Use solvents to remove any oils.

(Oxy-Pho Blue is forgiving in this regard, but other blues aren't.)

Put it on sparingly, in thin coats. I don't know about abrading the surface, as "smooth" was what I wanted. In the gun shown below, I used BLUING AND RUST REMOVER to remove the old finish before I started.

Polish it before you blue it. The better the polish, the darker the blue.

Follow the instructions. Rinse in water when you're done. Use something to get rid of the water. Do it again, etc.

Just thinking about it all reminds me that I want to hardchrome my next gun, instead of "home" refinishing it.

Here's a link to one I did, using the method described above. Its not quite as durable as a true hot blue -- and I have to touch up the front and back straps every once in a while... But it sure looks better than the terribly banged up/scratched POLYCOAT that had been on the gun.

Jim K
March 17, 2004, 08:39 PM
It is possible to obtain fairly good results with cold blue, but it is not durable and the appearance is usually far below what is obtained with hot tank blue.

Those ads that say "Used by gunsmiths" are correct. I always kept some handy to touch up nicks or scratches or to blue screw heads I had to rework. But no gunsmith ever (I hope) used it for a full rebluing job.


March 18, 2004, 06:10 AM
I've used Brownells 4340 paste for a full job...but the steel wasn't in the white. Applied liberally over a gray phosphate finish,(Parkerizing) it
results in a matte black that is dead ringer for the finish that Colt used on
the older 1991-A1 pistols, and it's as durable as the base finish.

Full cold blue starting with bare metal? Not unless you're going for
an "antique" look like you see on older, blued GI pistols. Display grade
stuff that will fool the masses, but not the trained eye.

Just FYI...


March 18, 2004, 06:39 AM
I've used Oxopho Blue gel on a few things, most notably a Turk Mauser. Sometimes it works good, somtimes it don't. I think it depends a lot on the metal. It worked fine on the barrel but not so well on the bolt and handle.
I degrease with non-chlorinated brake cleaner.

March 18, 2004, 08:48 AM
Thanks for the tips, guys.

I spent a good hour putting multiple layers onto it last night, polishing in between each. Oh - and wearing gloves!

Came out very nice - dark and consistent.

Given that (apparently) cold blue isn't very durable, what other options do I have if I want to refinish the gun for, say, carry purposes, or possibly a car gun? I guess I'm wondering if there is another DIY option that is more durable...

Thanks again!

Old Fuff
March 18, 2004, 10:31 AM
Brownells, a major gunsmith supply house in Iowa has an extensive line of refinishing options for the "home gunsmith" as well as professionals. Some of the professional processes, such as hot blueing of the kind manufacturers' use are too expensive to set up to do a few guns while others are economically possible. You can, for example phosphate coat (you'd call it "Parkerize") a handgun on your kitchen stove. A catalog will cost you $5.00 and open up a whole new world. Technical help and advice is only a phone call away. To learn more go to:

March 18, 2004, 10:46 AM
I've tried a lot of the cold blues and as mentioned, prep/cleaning is the key.

Brownells OXY-PHO(?) paste was the easiest to use and gave a reasonable finish with 3-5 coats. Unlike the Birchwood products, you don't need to rinse with water after each coat.

"Reasonable" finish for a cold blue means, to me anyway, a fairly dark black/greyish tone...nothing like a hot blue in looks and durability.

I tried the Blue Wonder and it did give the darkest blue/black I've seen, actually quite good. But, I was unable achieve a uniform finish, not even close, and it is very expensive for the very little they give you.

Bottom Gun
March 18, 2004, 11:26 AM
I've had very good luck with cold blue by degreasing then heating the metal until it 's uncomfortable to hold. I've had the best luck with Birchwood Casey paste. I apply it using extra fine steel wool.
I think heating the metal opens the pores a bit and the steel wool helps work the blueing into the metal.

Don't forget to liberally apply oil afterward to kill the blueing action.

March 18, 2004, 08:06 PM
Heating the metal may open the pores just a bit, but the bigger benefit may be that it drives all of the moisture out of the surface of the metal.

April 14, 2004, 01:15 PM
:) Check out this link for a great Cold Blue Tip. (Scroll down the article quite a ways.) I've used this fellows idea a number of times now, and it works well, and leaves a pleasing, streak free finish on mild steel at least; haven't tried it on tool steel, but I touched up a well worn Browning BAR receiver and barrel using this tip, and it looked quite nice; certainly not as nice as a total reblue, but very presentable. It's well worth a try. - ''gunsmither" ;)

April 16, 2004, 11:14 AM
If you want to finish it for a carry gun you have several options. Probably the easiest to apply is Brownells epoxy sprays, they are applied like spray paint and than oven cured, they are very durable, and though it's debatable, some think they look quite attractive. I would also seriously consider a traditional rust blue, this don't require fancy equipment (basically just the solution, steel wool, cotton balls, and a pot to boil water in) and although they are time consuming, the job isn't difficult once some basic ground rules are established. Rust blue also is more durable than a hot blue, and doesn't have a shiny appearance which could be a tactical advantage. In addition the matte surface helps to retain oil for better corrosion resistance. The easiest one I have found to use is Laurel Mountain Forge Barrel Brown and Degreaser which is sold by Dixie and a few other places. This doesn't require degreasing the parts at all since a strong detergent is present in the formula. You might also consider using the solution to produce the basic rust brown finish since it presents the same advantages listed above and does not require the parts to be boiled in water after each rusting period. This solution costs about $7.50 per bottle which would be enough to finish several handguns.

April 16, 2004, 01:54 PM
Just in case that website goes belly up, I thought I'd take the liberty of posting the tip here:

After removing all the tin or zinc plating off, I blued the rod with some instant cold blue. The freshly sanded steel was first blued using a "Q-Tip". This worked fairly well but did not produce a real deep or black blue and the blueing was not very uniform. So for some unknown reason I thought of wiping the steel handle with a piece of Scotch Brite and blueing solution. I had some very fine Scotch Brite (000), which I tried on some case necks instead of steel wool. The Scotch Brite material worked great. The more I wiped the steel lightly with the Scotch Brite pad the deeper and more uniform the blueing became. As the Scotch Brite shined the steel, it blued the freshly cut steel to a very dark and uniform finish. The instant blue on the new handle looks as good as the blueing on any other Redding parts. Now I have made a Scotch Brite Q-Tip for my various blueing needs by hot gluing a small piece of Scotch Brite onto the end of a Popsicle stick. Works great.

Thanks for the link, gunsmither!

April 17, 2004, 08:41 PM
It won't be any prettier, but after you cold blue a gun with whatever compound you choose, apply a good coat of car wax. Some of the silicone stuff, sold under various names. This will make the finish a bit more durable.

However, this will really mess you up if you decide to try and refinish the gun later.

April 24, 2004, 10:25 PM
i have a wingmaster reciever that i attempted to re blue using novum solutions "BLUE WONDER" i followed the directions on their web site and on the kit , the reciever was taken down to white metal very clean the results were brown/gold/copper/black streaks NO BLUE i repeated the process several times {over 10} each time taking it to bright white metal with the same results, also attempted to just add coats over the course of several days same results i wasted a lot of my time and effort very dissapointing i have spoken to BOB PRICE a vice pres. @ novum and also KIM NORTON @Kims shooting stuff who is where i bought the stuff they are now ignoring my emails as in not replying. i went to walmart and got birch wood casey perma blue $3.97 and in 1/2 hour got the results i cold not get with the $33.50 blue wonder..... i would be very cautious dealing with any thing having to do with "BLUE WONDER" Kim if you are reading this i am still waiting for that REFUND. WILLIAM W. MILLS

April 25, 2004, 07:29 AM
By far, the best cold blue I know is Jenolite KoldBlak, but I don't know if it is available in U.S.A..

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