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Old May 15, 2007, 09:08 AM   #1
MDS
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Gun bluing

Is this something you can do yourself? Uh, is this something i should try to do, is a more accurate question. Also, can you do a matte black finnish?
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Old May 15, 2007, 10:44 AM   #2
srtrax
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SURE YOU CAN, Brownells sells a blueing system for around $1500.00, last i looked. You wont need buffers for a beed blast finish, but you will need an air supply and a bead blaster for a matte finish!

For a finish that will hold up, if taken care of, have someone that can do it right. The cold blues and paint are just cheap spinoffs!
Hot caustic blueing is still the right way to go and if your not set up to do this, someone in your area is, and at $75.00 to $150.00 you'll be happy with it.
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Old May 15, 2007, 10:47 AM   #3
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Thanks, I'll check around. I didn't think bluing was that inexpensive.
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Old May 15, 2007, 10:47 AM   #4
hoghunting
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I've reblued a few old shotgun barrels with the cold blues just to see which ones worked. The Oxpho-Blue from Brownells worked better than all of the ones I used, but it seems to surface rust extremely quickly. The cold blues will do touch-ups very well, but they just don't work well for a complete bluing.

If you want to do a matte finish, you might try using the spray-on finishes that are baked on:

http://www.brownells.com/aspx/ns/sto...x?c=754&p=4798
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Old May 15, 2007, 06:30 PM   #5
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One way to save money on a hot tank blue is to disassemble the gun yourself, and agree to re-assemble it when the job is done. On some guns, disassembly and re-assembly takes 3-4 times as long as polishing and bluing, and the customer pays for that time.

Even better is what I like to do, which is to do the polishing myself. That way, I can get exactly what I want in the way of copying an original finish.

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Old May 18, 2007, 12:11 PM   #6
PzGren
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I have had excellent results with rust blueing. It is extremely labour intensive, preparation has to be *clean clean* but Midway sells the smallest bottle for about $7. It is not very hard to do, the first job turned brown but now I have a black that can barely be rivaled by hot blue.

I usually use Belgian blue and the biggest downside is that the parts have to be boiled, i.e. you'll need a pan large enough to immerse the part. Kind of hard for rifle barrels.

Last edited by PzGren; May 19, 2007 at 04:13 PM.
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Old May 21, 2007, 11:51 PM   #7
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"...didn't think bluing was that inexpensive..." The expensive part of having a bluing job done is the prep work. Polishing is all hand work. If that isn't done well, the bluing job will be poor too. And like Jim says, you pay by the hour to have the smithy do the disassembling.
Take out all the springs, tap a cast bullet into the muzzle and put an empty case in the chamber(with a spent primer), and send only the parts you want blued.
"...can you do a matte black..." Yep. It's all in the prep work.
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Old May 22, 2007, 09:29 AM   #8
George R
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Hot Blueing

May I respectfully suggest that the information on plugging the bbl, even one end, is dangerous. Blueing is a stain and won't change the dimensions of the bbl interior. It disappears the first time you shoot it.
One of Brownell's Kinks books has a short article about making sure a bbl is clear before you put it in the tank.
It's bad enough to have to plug a bbl when parkerizing, that always makes me nervous. I sure don't want to put a bbl in hot salts that isn't clear on both ends.
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Old May 22, 2007, 09:25 PM   #9
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Mds

Have you checked around your area yet. In my neck of the woods there are 3 people that do blueing, 1 with a repair shop and 2 who do nice work at a price i wouldnt do it for, guess thats why my tanks are down at the moment. They do it for a little extra money for reloading and gun buying, really ask around, and if you have to strip the gun down as much as you can, you can save some money. A friend polished his own gun and when one of these guys was ready to do a batch, it cost him $20.00 for the blueing. He did all the rest!
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Old May 22, 2007, 10:23 PM   #10
Dave Haven
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Re: George R

Quote:
May I respectfully suggest that the information on plugging the bbl, even one end, is dangerous.
You may. And I respectfully reply, "Horse pucky!"
My Dad has been plugging both ends of rifle barrels with rubber plugs for hot blueing for over 40 years, and has NEVER had a plug come out of a barrel until he PULLED IT OUT.
Hot blueing temperatures will produce less than 10 PSIG inside a plugged barrel. Unless there's water in the barrel when it's plugged.
Quote:
Blueing is a stain and won't change the dimensions of the bbl interior.
It's not a stain, its a layer of oxidation on the surface. It may not change the dimensions more than a few millionths of an inch, but it WILL change the surface finish and coefficient of friction. And it can destroy accuracy, especially in smaller calibers.
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Old May 23, 2007, 07:19 AM   #11
George R
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Hot Blueing

OK! All I can go on is what they told me at Yavapei and from my own personal experience. I never heard of a shop plugging the barrels to hot salt blue, and have never had a customer complain about the bore being blued. I'm going to check with the tech crew at Brownell's and will let you know what they say. Who's salts are you using?
Here's what Brownell's says: "About plugging the bores: DON"T. The govt ran several tests at Rock Island Armory years ago on a series of blued bores as compared to unblued. With this method of gun bluing, it was found that the blued bores gave longer bbl life and better muzzle pressures-very slight of course, but proves the point. Just be SURE and scrub them throughly after blueing to remove all traces of salts. Further: These modern solutions are hard on wood and the heat insside the bbls expands the air and the plugs blow out very easily Dangerous" The caps are Brownell's, not mine. Perhaps your Dad was rust blueing not salts?

Last edited by George R; May 23, 2007 at 07:36 AM. Reason: Additional information
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Old May 23, 2007, 12:43 PM   #12
srtrax
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I very much agree with George R... at MSC Gunsmithing School, we blued every friday and was taught from the very first as a safety rule to never plug the bores while "hot caustic blueing". With temps at 292* and nickle steel at over 300* i dont want salts all over me, bad enough when the tanks come to a good roll and a small splatter of salts burn a blister on your skin as it is! I want my bores blued, because bueing is a controled rust process, and after blueing i can control the RUST with oil, a bare bore is at the mercy of outside forces that are harder to control real rusting and pitting. But if your doing a belgium blue with hot water, 212* or less, or using a flame for the heat source, it is recommended to plug the barrels.
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Old May 23, 2007, 01:15 PM   #13
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Yes, i like my vinegar on the rocks!
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Old May 23, 2007, 08:31 PM   #14
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Yep, I never blued "plugged" either. Never had an accuracy complaint on anything we blued that wasnt traceable back to things like bedding, forend pressure, etc.


I read quite a few books on bluing back when I started and it was interesting to read about depot maintenance level work. I read about a setup a depot in Singapore had, which pressurized the tanks.

Yep, I had a pair of sneakers that looked like they were attacked with a blackened icepick. I got splashed in the face slightly while lowering some work into the tanks, and didnt know I had a glob of salts above my eyebrow. About ten minutes later I wiped my forehead with the back of my hand and did it *sting*. It really started to eat into me.

Oddly enough, I sorta found bluing a peaceful sort of thing to do. It was harsh enough that people left you alone when you did it. If I wanted to clear the shop of the hangers-on, firing up the tanks did it every time.
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Old May 23, 2007, 10:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
Who's salts are you using?
Brownell's.
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Old May 24, 2007, 12:16 PM   #16
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SLOPEMENO: lol, When it came time to blue, there were times when an ass kicking would have been just fine, i hated the start-up, waiting on temps to reach, and so on. But once things started to happen i also found it to be relaxing, someone might come up but one tingling breath through the nose and its by-by. Brownellsx2
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Old May 24, 2007, 02:59 PM   #17
George R
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hot blueing

SRTRAX &SLOPEMENO: lol I never thought about it, but you're right, and it still is fun. I hate to get poetic about hot salt blueing, but I have no life , and it is a quiet (usually) and enjoyable time. I blue every Friday and its the best day of the week for me. The skill and thinking work of polishing is all done, nobody comes near me, and I always feel good when I pull the work out of the tank. I can do without the excitement of splatter, reddish receivers and the heat , but it is one of the most rewarding parts of gunsmithing.

And Dave, if you're really using hot caustic salts and plugging the bbl with rubber plugs, I think I'll stick with the "horse pucky" crowd.
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Old May 24, 2007, 08:23 PM   #18
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...every time I would blue, the shop was never quieter than when I would reach up and turn off that last fan with a hammer (cause I couldnt reach over Doug's bench for fear of impaling myself on a something sharp), and this humid *hush* like a hot wet blanket would roll over the place. The tanks and burners would make the occasional tink as they cooled down. I'd take a step outside and it was now cool and dark, with the stars just becoming visible in the east. I'd take off my apron and hang it on my vise, wash my hands with Comet ('cause I was filthy) and hit the door.

I can still smell that long-gone place. Cigars, bullet lube, BreakFree, Bondo, Beer, and the garbage that someone didnt empty.
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Old May 25, 2007, 12:30 PM   #19
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If you want to try and set up, make sure you have a place with no steel around.
It will rust like crazy with the tanks spowing off stuff.
Even galvanize is no match for the corrosive power of bluing salts.
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Old June 2, 2007, 12:58 AM   #20
Kody
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Gun Bluing formulas

G'day guys,
I guess you have already figured that I am in Australia.
I used to have my own gunsmithing shop some years ago and dissmantled it when I moved to the USA for almost 7 years. Now that we are back in Oz, I want to start up my gunwork again. One of the main things I did was to hot blue barrels and parts. My problem now is that I cannot obtain the chemicals for blueing as my original supplier has disapeared. The new gun laws have made things quite difficult compared to the laws when I left Aust.
Can anyone tell me what the chemical is that is mixed with the caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) to make the formula?
From info I have found on the net, the chemical is Sodium Nitrate. Some have stated it's Potassium Nitrate. Others have suggested it's Amonium Nitrate. Which one is the correct chemical? I have asked around the major gun stores/smiths in the big cities but no-one will give me any info.
Just for the record, I built my own tanks (6" x 6" x 36"), the stands to hold them and the burners to heat them. The gas burners were 34" long made from 1" x 1" RHS and worked perfectly. All this disapeared (plus all my tools, reamers etc.) before we returned to Aust. so now I have to start from scratch.
Any info on the formula would be most appreciated.

Kody
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Old June 2, 2007, 10:15 AM   #21
brickeyee
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Sodium & potassium nitrate and potassium nitrite.
Look around Brownell's tech data sheets.
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Old June 2, 2007, 02:51 PM   #22
George R
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Blueing

I'd recommend a couple of books- The Complete Metal Finishing Book book by Harold Hoffman( H&P Publishing, 7174 Hoffman Rd, San Angelo, TX 76905) and it used to be sold by Brownell's. Lots of formulas including his for hot salt: 15 lbs of sodium hydroxide (flakes), 7 1/2 pounds of ammonium nitrate and 3 gallons of pure water. And, of course, the bluer's bible Firearm Blueing and Browning by RH Angier. Written in 1936 so some of the chemical names are weird.
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Old June 2, 2007, 06:35 PM   #23
JoeLee
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You'll never make money just Bluing even as an added service.
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