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Slow rust bluing

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Mauser lover, May 3, 2012.

  1. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Well-Known Member

    I was looking to rust blue a .22 barrel, and was wondering if anyone had any tips or tricks on how to this well.

    What solution should I get? (don't want to make my own)

    What can I use to boil it in? (don't want to buy a tank from Brownells for $60.00)

    Do I need to build a giant humidifier?

    Do I really need to plug the bore? Or is it better if I didn't?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    I've done a little bit of rust bluing. Brownell's Classic Rust Blue is cheap and gave me much better results than I probably deserved. (Though I did try VERY hard to follow the instructions.)

    The problem with the barrel is the length. You can boil it in any stainless pot you can fit it in, but that's why they sell the tanks they do. I bought a $5 stock pot from WalMart to do my small items, but sure couldn't have fit a barrel in it.

    As far as the rusting process, you don't strictly HAVE to have anything special for humidifying. I put a couple 9x13 baking pans of water in the oven and set it on extra-low and hung my items on tie-wire from the baking element supports inside. Easy and fast rusting. But, again, it'd have to be a fairly short barrel to fit in an oven. You could get much the same effect, probably, by hanging it in your bathroom while your family does the morning shower routine.

    You don't want to over-etch the metal, though, so letting the item sit and rust for 24 hours+ isn't a good idea. You can get frosty looking results if you let the rust get too deep a hold.

    I'd plug the bore. It really shouldn't be hard. Any 3" piece of wood dowel you could whittle to a point and tap in tightly will do just fine and give you something to hold onto while you're handling it.
  3. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Well-Known Member

    Okay, thanks for the hints, Sam 1911. I had my "grandfather" (adopted by my mother) offer to give me some sheet metal and let me use his welder to make a trough.

    Brownell's is out of stock of that product, do they get it back into stock often? Is it a 3 month wait?

    So..... I can pick up a dowel at Wal Mart and chuck it in a lathe and attack it with some sandpaper to give it a nice taper? Does it have to be some special wood? Softwood fine?
  4. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    The instructions that come with the bottle of bluing are very good. A softer wood would probably work even better than a harder wood. "Softwood" (coniferous/evergreen tree) isn't usually used for dowels, but Poplar often is. And though it is a "hardwood" (deciduous) it is softer than some "softwoods" like Southern Yellow Pine.

    That's odd that it is out of stock. Probably will have it again soon. There are some other rust blues listed there (like "Belgian Blue") but I've not tried them.
  5. BWB

    BWB Well-Known Member

    Another option is the Pilkington's solution available from Brownell's. The solution itself may or may not be better (I suspect they're all about the same), but the instruction pamphlet that comes with it is VERY detailed. It gives you guidance on polishing, degreasing, troubleshooting, water requirements, etc. If you follow the instructions, you will be able to achieve fine results the first time.
  6. mbopp

    mbopp Well-Known Member

    If you make your own tank, I'm not sure but doesn't it have to be stainless steel?
  7. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    The tank can be ordinary sheet iron, it doesn't have to be stainless.

    I recommend you make those muzzle/breech plugs so they stick out about 6 inches; that way you can use them as handles when holding the barrel and not touch the barrel.

  8. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Well-Known Member

    Well, the "Belgian blue" is in stock, but that is kind of a huge container, and Pilkington's solution is out of stock. After seeing the prices on those things, I really like the first suggestion best.... Anyone know where I can get some?
  9. Lucifer_Sam

    Lucifer_Sam Well-Known Member

    Gun goddes rust blue solution is very good, also. He also sends a really good booklet with his product.

    Rust bluing is really dependent on metal prep. You want to sand up to about 400 or so, and you need to get rid of any oil. That part has to be repeated, get rid of any oil whatsoever. You'll need to use gloves to prevent finger oils from messing up the process. If you're cheap like me, a puff of talcum powder in the gloves will let you reuse the same pair of disposables a few extra times.

    If you're using a buffer to prep be careful not to gouge out your screw holes, cartouches, engravings, ect.

    It depends on your humidity whether you need a cabinet or not. Unless you're somewhere really arid you should be ok, might just take a bit longer.

    If you use steel wool to card you need to be sure to degrease it, too.

    With the exception of oil contamination, its actually not all that hard, and can be a somewhat forgiving process.
  10. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Oh...forgot that point (though it will likely be covered in the great instructions many of these solutions are packaged with).

    You DON'T want to polish the steel up to some insane luster. IIRC, the Classic Rust Blue I've used said to go to ~320 grit or so. Too fine a polish will make it harder for the rust to propogate.
  11. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Well-Known Member

    Alright, where do I get Gun Goddess rust blue?

    Is 600 grit sandpaper okay to use?
  12. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    600 might be a bit finer than you want. Read the instructions.
  13. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Well-Known Member

    Laurel Mountain Forge Barrel Brown and Degreaser is also a rust blue solution, it works well and you can touch the barrel with bare hands while it's rusting. It has a detergent in the formula to cut fingerprints. Around $10 for a bottle big enough to do 2 or 3 complete guns.
  14. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Well-Known Member

  15. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Well-Known Member

    That's it. Their solution is good for either, it comes with instructions for both. The process is identical except for the boiling. I've seem some guns done with it and they look just as good as any other rust blue solution. I used it to brown an old pump (don't ask) and the stuff works great. I handled the barrel/receiver with my bare hands a few times to test the stuff and there were no marks.
  16. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Well-Known Member

    SWEET! I like the price, but more than that, IT'S IN STOCK! okay, enough excitement for one day, thanks for all of the help everyone. Oh wait, one more thing; a review on that browning stuff said that I needed a carding wheel.... is 0000 steel wool still fine?
  17. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Well-Known Member

    0000 steel wool is perfect. It'll give you a great finish, just take a little longer.
  18. Lucifer_Sam

    Lucifer_Sam Well-Known Member

    Jim Baiar, Half moon Rifle shop. 406 862 4409. He has no internet presence, hes about as "old school" as you can get. The formula is his own. Smart man, very courteous and helpful. His solution gives a deep lustrous dark blue. Ive heard that Pilks is more of a bluish color, and I'd like to try that, but Gun goddes gives such beautiful results that I'm hesitant.
  19. lathedog

    lathedog Well-Known Member

    I've actually rust blued stuff before.

    You need a humidity cabinet. Wood is preferred. You need something to make it humid in there, like a hotplate with a bowl of water. If it gets too humid, and condensation forms, you will ruin the job. You want to not start a fire, so be careful with your heat source.

    You need boiling water to neutralize the reaction. This does not require a stainless tank, or titanium, or anything like that. Pouring boiling water over the work would work in theory. Anything that can stand boiling water and hold your work is probably fine. Change the water (when it cools down) after every couple of uses.

    If you plug the barrel, and the plugs blow out when you boil the barrel, hot boiling water will blow all over you. Its up to you, but I prefer not to be spashed with lots of boiling water. The rust blue solution will not get into the bore unless you put it there.

    You want to watch your metal prep as the solution does not take well to highly polished surfaces. Think 320 grit as a maximum. 220 grit is good enough so long as it is even. Media blast is best.

    Your skin oil will ruin the process. Wear nitrile gloves, then wash your hands with gloves on to remove any oil from the gloves. Soak your steel wool in acetone to remove the oil that comes on the steel wool. I cannot overstress the importance of careful decontamination of any grease or oil.

    Wire wheel or steel wool the oxide off ("carding") with just enough pressure to remove the crumbly stuff. Dont get overeager and buff off your actual bluing. I use steel wool that is still damp from an acetone dip.

    Oil when complete and enjoy.
  20. buckbrush

    buckbrush Well-Known Member

    I use PVC pipes for pouring boiling water into.

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