View Full Version : Repairing bluing on the cheap.

September 25, 2005, 04:07 PM
I'm continuing to clean up the bucket-o-guns I agreed to look at. One of them has some pinpoints of damage to the bluing with small spots of rust starting. Are there home bluig kits that could be used to patch this condition after removing and stopping the rust? Do the bluing kits if available have any sort of rust stop included for good compatability or is the rust only removed manually (steel wool, etc) and the bluing is only put on bare metal?

I know enough to be able to disassemble, clean and lube. That's the limit of my gun specific maintenance knowledge.


September 25, 2005, 06:25 PM
What you want is cold blueing. Walmart should even have kits.

I have never had to use cold blueing, I believe you have to remove the rust first.

September 25, 2005, 07:26 PM
In bluing, as in most other things in life, the old adage of "you get what you pay for" applies. Further, in my experience it is no coincidence that the words "bluing" and "bane" both begin with the letter "b"! To achieve excellent results requires patience, concentration, and plain hard work.

General keys to good bluing include:

Meticulous surface preparation. Typically this means the complete removal of the old finish--seldom will the old and new ones match.

The removal of ALL oil and grease from your workpiece (this includes avoiding contaminating clean surfaces with the oils from your skin as you apply the new finish).

The use of clean, chemical-free rinse water (distilled works well). Chlorine and dissolved minerals can play havoc with your new finish.

This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but should give you some idea of what is involved.

If your "bucket-o-guns" contains any high-quality/collectible pieces or ones that have sentimental value, then I would recommend having them professionally re-blued.

Hope this helps.

Good luck, and good shooting!

September 25, 2005, 07:54 PM
None of it (that I'm going to repair) is worth more than $200 or so. I think that's close to the cost to have the bluing redone. So, its worth a shot. Will check Walmart etc for home kits.


Harry Bonar
September 25, 2005, 08:11 PM
Dear Shooter; I like Brownells Oxpho-blue well.
Harry B.

September 25, 2005, 08:21 PM
I'll look for that too! The kit with the best instructions wins.

September 25, 2005, 09:44 PM
You have to do like what was previously said about completely removing the rust and existing finish most of the time to get a decent finish. If you have just a few small pit marks, scrubbing the spots with oil and steel wool will take the barrel back enough that after cleaning and degreasing the barrel you might get lucky if you completely follow the instructions that you get it to look decent enough. I heat the spots I am trying to cold blue, this may help you as well.

The price of a reblue if done by a man that knows his stuff is worth the expense of having it done. A lot of work goes into removing the blue and rust and then polishing the barrel and receiver prior to reblueing the gun.

September 25, 2005, 10:14 PM
How is existing bluing removed? Can a gun just be anodized with Type III Hard anodizing?

September 25, 2005, 11:00 PM
Annodizing should be for aluminum, I believe, not gun steel,

To remove blue, you can do it several ways. Naval jelly removes rust and blueing quite well as does a 50/50 mix of muriactic acid and water bath. They also make a rust and blueing remover, I believe Birchwood Casey sells it at Walmart.

If you go that route and want to try your hand at it, get the blue remover and apply it where the rust is. Then you can see if you have all the rust removed when you rubb the steel with steel wool and oil. Scrub it very good . Once you get the rust out of the pit, you can draw file it and then sand it if the pit is very deep, or just apply some heat to the completely cleaned and degreased barrel directly where the pit was. Then apply the oxpho blue to it following the directions. Like I said, follow the directions well and apply as many coats as necessary and then use WD 40 or break free to help neutralize the blueing. Then apply another coat of breakfree and let it sit up for a few days. It might not be a perfect match, but the rust should be gone and the barrel reblued. Good luck with it. One note, if you are not familiar with draw filing and sanding, I would just get the rust removed and then reblue it.

September 25, 2005, 11:14 PM
I don't have a problem with wet sanding it to 6000 grit and buffing it way past that.

Does heating the piece make the bluing work better. If so, what heat should the weapon and the solution be at? I can probably control both +/- .25 degrees.

September 26, 2005, 05:35 AM
I use a heat gun myself to heat the metal, but a propane torch held way back from the metal and waved across it several passes would work as long as you are careful to keep the flame away from the steel. Not sure exactly how hot I actually get the metal though. I use a cotton ball with the oxpho blue on it to rub the blueing onto the metal. I keep it wet for 2 minutes. I wouldn't hazard an actual guess as to how hot, but I wouldn't think it gets very much above 200* localized into a small area. I and others think the heat helps the blueing take better.

As to how much sanding and what grit will suffice, I would use some heavy, medium, and then fine grit crocus cloth to shoe shine it to where there weren't any pits left showing if I could get away with just a little metal removal. Remember that you are removing metal from the barrel and you don't want it to look like you removed metal from just the one spot, blend it in is what I am trying to say.

Good luck with it. You might post some pics and let us have a look before you begin working on it just so we could give a little better directions as to which way to go with it.

September 26, 2005, 12:17 PM
Keep 'em modest.

I just re-blued a ruger 10/22 that had a lot of rust around the barrel crown. The cold-bluing kit (forget the brand, came in a blue bottle) came with a bule and rust remover, so that's what I used.

Surface prep is key, as has been said. Strip the old bluing, then sand with finer and finer grit until the metal is as good as it's gonna get. then clean the heck out of it. Use something that won't leave an oily reidue behind. You want BARE metal.

Bluing took 4 coats. Completely dry between coats. We polished with 000 steel wool between coats, and clean the metal just as throughly as you did for the first coat. Some unevenness in the final finish is probably unavoidable, it's just not going to look like a professional hot blue job. But it came out pretty darned good, IMHO.

I'd worry about using a torch to do a backyard hot-blue job. First, I doubt that the cold-bluing mix are the same chemicals used in "real" bluing. I've got no idea how they'd react to the heat. Second, I'd be more concerned with messing up the temper of the steel than with getting the perfect finish.

If you want a perfect, deep blue-black finish, you're not gonna get it in your garage. Send the gun out to be professionaly blued. If you want a pretty good finish that will protect your gun, that's certainly doable at home.

Just my 2/100s of a dollar....


September 26, 2005, 02:04 PM
Try VANS gun blueing. Works better than the Walmart stuff. Kits come with degreaser and blueing. Heating the metal also helps (hair dryer).

September 26, 2005, 03:34 PM
If you notice on the post I made about heat, I said to make sure the flame doesn't come into contact with the metal and to wave it back and forth. This is done to make sure to not heat the metal too much. The heat I am after is only a source to warm the metal up and since we removed the bluing already, we aren't worried about messing it either. To mess with the temper you would need to hold the flame on the metal for a good little bit to turn it purple in color most of the time. Please don't confuse anyone about messing up the tempering of the steel on something I said because I made the statement to prevent someone from doing just that. Like I said, I much prefer a heat gun, or Logs uses his hairdryer. I don't have much use for a hairdryer anymore and my wife gets PO'd at me when I borrow hers so I use my heat gun. I did give an estimate of the heat I was using, but it is not precise and I said so.

You are correct in thinking the cold blue is not the same as hot caustic blueing, but a little heat helps make sure the cold blue takes effect a little better. Please try something before you warn against it.

September 26, 2005, 03:58 PM
I use Oxpho-Blue creme and like that it doesn't require degreasing or removing light rust. I heat the part on the radiator or on top of the hot water boiler if I'm working in the basement. Somebody around here, and I can't remember who, suggested carefully heating a little of the O-B for a few seconds in the cap in the microwave. I tried it and it improves the finish.


September 26, 2005, 04:24 PM
I didn't figure anyone would offer advice that would hurt the OP's gun, I was just saying that I wouldn't be comfortable with it... Mostly due to fears about my own incompetence. It may well be safe, but I'd probably screw it up.

I wasn't so much worried about the chemistry differences being a problem as I was wondering if, due to diferences in formulas, heating the metal would do any good. Seems for your experience that it does. I'd think that a heat gun would be the better way, just based on lowered odds of a gun-damaging mistake. Would a heat gun risk warping the barrel?

We're all here to learn, and us newbies more than most.

Thanks for your information.


September 26, 2005, 04:30 PM
NO warping effect has been shown. We're not talking about high heat here, just warming the steel up. I apollogize if i sounded mad at you, I wasn't. I should have asked where you were coming from with it. Even with the heat gun, I am not trying to solder here, just warm the steel. Take care,


September 26, 2005, 04:47 PM
Have you compared the results with /without the heat?

I was pretty happy with the way my 10/22 came out, no heat. There were a few spots were the bluing wasn't as "deep," bu you've got to be right up near the gn to see them. As far as protection of the steel is concerned, I've got no worries. If I'd wanted a perfect finish, I'd have had the barrel professionally re-blued. Which would have cost more than the gun.

Next up is probably shootin bro's Hungarian M44 Mosin-Nagant. I'm wondering if using a heat gun will be an improvement.


September 26, 2005, 05:42 PM
When I heat parts, I use an old iron, like for clothes. I just leave the part on top until it is hot through and through. Use low to medium temps and careful not to burn yourself.

September 26, 2005, 06:03 PM
you will get a finish that mirrors your surface prep..in other words...bare clean metal polished will produce a more polished finish,fingerprints will show up in the blueing because you have oils in your skin so dont touch it with your bare fingers.

brownelles has another option for bluing,its a spray on,bake finish that resembles parkerizing.its very durable,cleaning solvents dont "dissolve it" and doesnt cost alot.

there is another product called "super blue" that works faster and is more durable,its made by birchwood also.Ive used it to touch up small scratches and it blends in very good.I recommend it over the regular blue sold at walmart.

I bought a dremel and the polishing kit for it and this does the job quickly.

September 26, 2005, 06:15 PM
I have an old '03 Springfield, sporterized, that I cold-blued 20 years ago. It still looks good.

The trick that I used was to heat the metal--but not with a torch.

The best way by far is to clean the part thoroughly first--then, get a pan big enough to hold the part. You're not going to actually put the part in it, just have it big enough to avoid surprises.

Clean the metal to be blued like this: first, clean with solvent, then degreaser. Now do whatever work that needs to be done. Make sure that your surface prep is up to snuff.

If you want a high gloss finish, it is best to strip the whole area to be done, and repolish. If you're doing this by hand, sand and buff all the way to crocus cloth. If you're doing this by machine, I highly recommend Brownell's Polish-O-Ray and 555 polishes. Start with the 400 grit, then go through the 555 black, gray and white polishes.

If you have never polished metal before, get some practice pieces before you do the actual gun. And, be advised that while loose cloth wheels will serve in a pinch, the best bet is a mix of the two, finishing with felt wheels on a proper buffer.

Of course, bead blasting or matte prep work is done before the bluing is applied.

After you have prepped the metal and done the surface work, fill your pan with water. Now, put it on a burner on high heat, until water is in a rolling boil. Suspend the work on some sturdy wire stock.

Get a bottle of denatured alcohol. Wet a clean cotton cloth with some of it, and give the metal a final wipe.

Now, immerse the work in the boiling water without touching the sides or bottom. Let it sit for a bit--the hottest it will get is 212 degrees--nowhere near hot enough to affect the heat treatment. Get your bluing chemical ready.

When you get the work out, dump any water out of the workpiece, and slap that bluing on. Don't panic--it will look like absolute crap with the first coat. Concentrate on total coverage.

Get yourself a paper bag, wad it up and give the work a good hard rub. Now, polish with four-ought steel wool. Done with the first coat? OK--back into the water dunk for the second coat.

You'll want about three coats with the hot water rinse, and one final coat without the rinse. Rub out well with the paper bags between coats.

When you get to the last coat, while polishing with the steel wool, you will notice that the gun now looks like black glass. Now, oil the finish with a good water displacing oil, set it to the side and don't touch it for about 3 days.

Rub down with a good oil cloth, reassemble, and the job's done. To me, there is nothing that can match the beauty of a blued steel piece that has been properly polished with a trued felt wheel.

September 26, 2005, 09:54 PM
Yes, I have done it both ways and the heat helps a good bit. It most likely would help cut down on the bad spots or spots that weren't looking as good as the rest. I agree with you on a hotdip blueing would be the best if that is what you're after, but this is what I do to take care of a small affected area that the customer doesn't want to spend the money to prep the gun and dip it. You're dealing with less than an hour of labor versus a couple of hours labor for a full prep plus the cost of the dip. Runs into some money when you want the full treatment versus a cover up job. I also end up having the blue hammers and other such parts a good bit of the time and I do the same thing when I do them. It really makes it have the depth that you won't get when it is applied cold.

September 26, 2005, 10:20 PM
Damn what good info from all! I'm stoked to try it. Quick question. Does cold bluingstick to aluminum. I'm going to try this out on an old Raven .25 that is half worn off before tackling the better stuff.

I'll do it this next weekend and take lots of pics.


September 26, 2005, 10:27 PM
I don't think so. I believe that the support guys at Brownells can help you in that aspect.

September 26, 2005, 11:48 PM
Aluminum can either be annodized or painted, but anything steel on the gun can be blued. Look at the Ruger 10/22. It has a blued barrel on an annodized receiver.

September 30, 2005, 11:57 AM
On my last trigger gaurd i just smoothed out the rough spots and left all of the good blueing . Worked good, better than the one before i stripped all the way . And the good blueing won't wear off

October 1, 2005, 03:58 AM
I have to deliver some product to customers tomorrow so I may or may not get back in time to buy a kit before the gun shop closes. They are closed on Sunday so if I miss Saturday, I'll try one of the sporting goods stores and hope to make the attempt to try this on Sunday.


T. O'Heir
October 2, 2005, 02:00 AM
"...small spots of rust starting..." jsp98m3, use a fine brass wheel on a bench grinder with a light touch to remove the wee rust spots and cold blue them. Rocket science it ain't.