View Full Version : Bluing how-to?

September 29, 2005, 09:11 PM
Years ago I worked in a gunsmith shop doing little odds and ends jobs for knowlege and fun. I never got paid, but when he retired he gave me a lot of his tools and equipment. Along with it came a decent set of bluing tanks with a stand.

There are three tanks on one stand (with burners) about 36" long. The smaller tank is about 24" and doesn't have a burner.

I never got a chance to see how it was done. The gunsmith told me to order Brownell's stuff and follow the directions and to practice on a piece of scrap steel first. Now I'm thinking of bluing a gun or two.

Can anybody add to this? I don't want to screw up a gun.

September 29, 2005, 09:23 PM
......Get on the Brownell's site...They offer a wealth of information on blueing & other finishing procedures....

September 29, 2005, 09:27 PM

Brownells has a policy of sending people their kit instruction books free. Just give them a call and tell them you have one of their kits used, but don't know how to use it, and they will help you out. (What you have sounds like their kit; I'm not suggesting you lie. Even if your's isn't their's, they will send you the instructions.)

You will find the hot tank is for melting the bluing salts. The temperature has to be monitored carefully so you don't get weird colors, so there should be a thermometer for that. The molten salts are very hot; much hotter than boiling water, so you need good protective clothing and good ventilation. The other tanks are used for degreasing and rinsing.

Because the molten salts are hotter than boiling water you can't just throw something wet in without causing a steam pop (small explosion) that throws the molten salts around. To re-emphasize the protective clothing requirement, you need a heavy leather welder's apron and gloves and heavy clothes and a full face shield at a minimum.


T. O'Heir
September 29, 2005, 11:52 PM
The most important things about hot bluing are temperature control and the pre-bluing metal finishing/polishing. New bluing over old will look just like that.
Also, you must take every bit of steel out of the room prior to doing anything. The salts in the air can and will cause any steel in the room to rust. Hot bluing is not done by most smithy's for this reason.
Talk to Brownell's and find a couple of ratty old .22's you can practice on. A couple of $50 or less wonders will do nicely. There are books that explain the whole process, but naturally, I forget which ones.

September 30, 2005, 12:24 AM
I know a lot fo folks will bark at this tip, but AGI has a very good video that will cover everything from metal prep and polish to the proper blueing techniques. Gene Shuey teaches the way it can be understood quite easily and does a very good job of shwing the process step by step. He will have the answers to any questions you can come up with and if you need to, they can put you in touch with him after you get finished with the video. Don't be sticker shocked by the price as well. You already have the hard part taken care since you have the equipment. The knowledge will be well used if you decide to blue yours and your friends guns and maybe start doing it as a side job as well.


with all that out of the way, listen to what you were told about removing anything that you don't want rusted from where you do the blueing. I do mine outside under an awning. Blueing indoors will rust the nails out of the ceiling and roof as well so be careful and I would get a good rubber apron and the other things you need myself.

September 30, 2005, 12:30 AM
To add to the above, bluing tank operations REQUIRE a lot of attention to things like:
Proper chemical mixes.
The correct mix of PURE water to chemical is critical.

Maintaining correct temperatures is critical.
Too hot or too cool and you get weird, red colored parts.

Cleanliness is CRITICAL.
No oil or finger prints on the metal or in the tank.

Polishing is EVERYTHING.
The difference between a mirror-like, deep BLUE Colt Python and the satin-black color on other guns is the quality of the pre-blue polishing, NOT the type of chemicals.
But, no matter how shiny the gun is, it won't hide dished out holes, rounded off edges, and wavy flats from poor quality polishing.
Polishing is an art you learn from experience.

SAFETY is THE most critical item.
Unclenick mentioned a "steam Pop". That doesn't begin to describe the event.
It's a VIOLENT steam-corrosive chemical EXPLOSION that blows boiling corrosive chemicals everywhere.
It will EAT clothing, skin, and eyes in an instant.

Keep plastics, aluminum, and anything with soft solder on it out of the tank.
The hot salt chemicals eat these up.
Many a gunsmith has removed a gun with soldered-on parts or soldered barrels and ribs, only to find a collection of loose parts when they come out.

Use GOOD equipment, including GOOD thermometers.