View Full Version : Why is my finish polishing off?

February 1, 2011, 02:07 PM
Ok so i recently blued an old cap and ball colt, and it came out looking really good. Only issue was it was a very dull finish, my goal was to make this gun look like it just came out of the box. So i decided to get a polishing wheel for my bench grinder and i lightly polished the metal and the finish came right off!! Im thinkin i should try a blue finish that requires me to heat the metal before applying. I plum browned my brothers sharps carbine and it came out awesome, but it was a heated finish so i believe that helped the metal really soak up the finishing solution. Is this the right idea or did i just mess up the blueing proccess in the first place? Should i polish the metal before finishing? any help would be greatly appreciated!!

February 1, 2011, 02:11 PM
Any polishing is going to have to be done prior to bluing. After the finish applied, any sort of abrasive is going to remove the finish.

February 1, 2011, 02:13 PM
Bluing is a thin finish.

Polish the surface and it wears away.

Cold blue is thinner than hot blue.

Think micro-inches of thickness.

February 1, 2011, 03:02 PM
Why are you polishing the finish? As stated above, polishing the metal is called "prep work", i.e. it is used to prepare the metal for the "finish" (as in last step).

Cold blue is not a durable finish, and IMO is unsuitable for finishing a firearm. Hot caustic bluing is durable and is the recognized finish of choice for firearms. Polish the metal until it meets your approval, then have it blued. Keep it oiled. Enjoy it for years.

February 1, 2011, 05:03 PM
Hey thanks for the help. Im just getting into hobby gunsmithing and i can use all the help i can get! Im gonna polish all the parts real good than im gonna find a hot blue and give it a shot. thanks again

February 1, 2011, 05:36 PM
im gonna find a hot blue and give it a shot

Hot bluing takes a pretty good setup.

The temperatures are well over 300 F, the salts are corrosive to any iron in the vicinity, and even disposal of the bluing salts is an issue.

The bluing tank normally has a large gas burner underneath (as long as the tank) to get everything up to the correct temperature.

Ideal Tool
February 1, 2011, 06:58 PM
I sure hope that old cap and ball Colt wasn't an original! When Colt made these, parts were heated & rubbed with rags soaked in fish oil. I can only imagine the smell!

James K
February 1, 2011, 09:18 PM
My thoughts exactly. Not the fish oil, but the idea of polishing and cold bluing an original percussion Colt, turning it from a $15,000 gun to a $200 gun with a only few minutes of effort!


February 2, 2011, 04:29 AM
I'm going to imagine that you didn't reblue an original C&B Colt. Really hard.

OK, then, you have to do ALL the finish work BEFORE you blue the metal. The bluing only colors the metal, whatever shine and polish you want to have has to be done first.

February 2, 2011, 06:55 AM
Could be somebody's having us on a bit.

"...plum browned...sharps carbine..."

May have been a little over the top.

That's my fantasy, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.



February 20, 2011, 01:50 PM
Brownell's has a complete hot blue outfit for about $2K

James K
February 20, 2011, 04:24 PM
Caustic salt bluing is NOT a DIY job. It requires a costly setup, with tanks and burners, plus the equipment for handling problems with the caustic solution; heavy rubber boots and apron, eye and face protection, gloves, an industrial safety shower, good ventilation, a place you can hose down any spills, etc., etc.

I cannot emphasize enough that caustic tank bluing is DANGEROUS and one mistake can leave you scarred for life or possibly dead. Anyone who wants to do it, fine, but be aware of what you are dealing with. Or take up something easy and safe, like wrestling alligators.


SBD Firearms
February 20, 2011, 11:53 PM
If you are cold bluing you might try heating the metal with a heat gun or a hair dryer prior to applying the cold blue. Cold blue paste seems to work alot better than a liquid. Also MAKE SURE the barrel/metal is absolutely oil/fingerprint free! Multiple coats of the cold blue will darken the blue. When you are all done and satisfied with the color make sure to stop the blueing process with a warm water bath and baking soda. Dry & oil.

February 21, 2011, 03:55 AM
I have been rust blueing for years. The materials needed to do a revolver would not be that much if you want to try it. It is real blueing and not that cold blue crap, but it does take a lot of work. It is not really dangerous and it is easier to match color different steels than some other methods. Brownells has pre-mixed solutions and the one they market under their name rusts in quickly with out a sweat box.