The Art of Cold Bluing
I have beendoing a lot of research on the pros/cons of Cold Bluing vs Hot Salt Bluing aswell as the different procedures people use to Cold Blue barrels and parts. There are a lot ideas and products out thereto choose from and everyone has their favorites or what works for them to the levelthey are happy with. My level is asclose to perfection as I can get.
The reasonsfor all my research is I am what mostwould call a little A/R. The comments onhow clean I keep my work station is evidence of that. So I have been looking for a good yetreasonably costing solution to bluing all gun parts that is both durable andhas a great look. Hot Salt bluing is the ultimate, hands down!!! The problem with this procedure for me is, itis expensive to set up, then the chemicals are extremely caustic. There are master bluers out there that do a phenomenaljob and have the process down after years of doing it. The other thing is that it is a bit costly tohave someone Hot Salt Blue a gun and parts. For a lot of us it is not worthspending the money to do a Hot Salt Blue on a gun that costs less than theprocess, unless you have the extra cash or the gun means that much to you tohave it done. Maybe in the near future I will set up to doit, but not right now.
So myoptions come down to Cold Bluing and Slow Salt Bluing. Slow Salt Bluing is just that, SLOW!!! But it does look good when it is doneright. It is probably the most durableof blued metal finishes after Hot Salt Bluing. It takes three to five days to do a reallygood job and can cost almost as much to do as Hot Salt Bluing due to the lengthof time and work. But for the Home DIYGunsmith or the small one man gunsmith shop it is a definite option. I use this process on some guns, but this isabout Cold Bluing, so……
That brings us to Cold Bluing and Hot Bluing. Theseprocesses are pretty much the same but one is done warm/hot and the other isdone cold or at room temperature. A lotof people say that cold bluing is only good for touch up spots, that the finishdoesn’t last, not durable, doesn’t go on smooth, leaves streak/spots, etc…. Oneguy actually blames his balding head, hair growing on his back and ears and lackof hot women wanting to hang out with him on Cold Bluing. Maybe he is just doing it wrong… I have use a few products with what I feelis excellent results. Yes, cold bluingis not as thick or black as hot salt but like any other blued surface, it needsto be taken care of and especially oiled or it will start to RUST!!! I don’t care if you had slow salt, hot saltbluing, it all needs to be OILED!!!
The productsI use are Brownell’s Oxpho Blue , Oxpho Blue Cream and Midway USA’s Arts Belgian Blue. I have tried Caseys and didn’t really like it too much. Other say 44/40 from Brownell’s and Blue Wonder work well but I have yet to play with them as I have foundwhat I feel is a great process and great products that give me a good darkfinish. You can use the Oxpho product coldwith good results but I have found if you heat the metal you will get betterresults and what I feel is a pretty durable finish. This doesn’t mean you can treat it like acombat rifle and beat on it, it is just bluing, not Parkerizing or Duracoating. Now that you have read through my dribble Ican finally get to the process I use to blue barrels and small assorted parts.
The realtrick to a good blue job has been said so many time because it is absolutelytrue. PREP WORK!!! If you do excellent prep and spend a bit moretime doing it right you will get excellent results. Most of the people that complain that theyfollowed a process and still got poor results probably didn’t spend the time todo excellent prep work. If you are justdoing some spot/touch up work the prep is important but not so intensive asdoing a complete gun.
If you aredoing touch up then all you need to do is clean the spot well. Rub some degreaseron the general area, clean it off with a clean wet towel, wipe clean again withsome lacquer thinner, warm the metal then with a cotton swab apply the product ofyour choice to the area, wait for a minute or so then wipe off and buff with000 or 0000 steel wool. (Using a heat gun or hair dryer to warm the area willhelp the application take better) Repeatuntil you get the color you want or it just isn’t getting any darker. If you are trying to work out a pitted spot,sand the area with fine/super fine/ultra fine sand paper to reduce the pittedarea, clean and follow the above steps. Most of the time the spot will not bethe same as the original bluing but you can get it close a lot of time. Ireally don’t like doing spots because it doesn’t always come out perfect. Don’t forget I am A/R and strive forperfection.
Look for part 2 where I describe how to do a complete gun...
These are just a few of the rifles I did with the above process.
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