View Full Version : Slow Rust Bluing

January 21, 2013, 02:21 PM
I know that someone here is bound to have done this to a BP revolver. I know the general process, so here is what I'm working on...

Several years ago I stripped one of my 58's to bare metal and used birchwood casey plum brown to give it an uneven and very brown finish, which I then attacked it with steel wool to knock it down to what a revolver looks like after its seen many decades of carry and use.

And I ended up with this finish, which really looks a lot like an original 58 Remington that has survived to the present day...

I intended to do the same thing with my 5.5 in barrel Remington but once I stripped it to bare metal, I liked the look so much that I just kept it "in the white" and have maintained it that way ever since. Every now and then I would have to touch it up with some steel wool to undo some mild staining. I know...you guys want a picture...so here's shorty as of a couple of days ago :D

Well, I'm over the shiny now and really like the look of the original rust blued guns from the 19th century so I'm looking at the slow rust bluing process. From what I've researched, the process is:
1. strip and degrease the metal
2. apply an acid to kick up the oxidation process
3. leave it alone for several hours in a humid environment
4. boil the metal in clean distilled water for 10 - 15 minutes to convert the red oxide to a black oxide
5. gently card the metal
6. repeat step 2-5 until the desired finish is reached
Supposedly you get to a point where the metal will not oxidize any further and you have a nice blue-black finish thats highly rust resistant. It's been my experience that when you try anything the first time, you screw it up so I've been testing the process on an old knife. Pictures please? :p
This is after two rusting and boiling and carding treatments

So, you guys that have used this same process...how does my first attempt look so far? I know it's not nearly done yet and I plan to rust/boil/card for probably 4-5 more days at least. And what advice to you have about the process itself before shorty takes one for the team?

January 21, 2013, 06:26 PM
I can't help you. My attempts so far at "antiqueing have been somewhat less than stellar. I do however, like the brown Remington in the first picture. If you do a good job on the second gun I just might let you do one of mine. I will even supply all the materials. :D:D:D

Just kidding, but not about how good the first gun looks. Looking forward to seeing the end product.

January 21, 2013, 06:59 PM
Modern rust bluing won't look like original rust bluing.

January 22, 2013, 10:44 AM
I'm guessing because I'll be using different chemicals than they did back in the day?

I'm using apple cider vinegar for my rusting agent, keeping the humidity up with a steam vaporizer, carding gently with steel wool. If the knife blade turns out with the look I'm wanting then shorty's goin in next.

I can't be the first one on here to have done slow rust bluing...I was just wondering of someone whos done it has any particular do's and don'ts...right now I'm just experimenting to see if I can duplicate the process I've read about on the internet, I was hoping to catch someone with firsthand knowledge of what I can expect.

January 27, 2013, 02:32 PM
If you want a deeper blue/black you need a lot more cycles. Did you sand the metal on the knife? The finest grit that they recommend generally is 320 but when I did my ‘97 Winchester 12 ga shotgun I went down to about 600 grit. It took a long time to do the whole gun, probably about 25 cycles. I used Plington’s Classic American American Rust Blue from Brownells but you can use other acids. Some may just take longer or not cover as well. Also, I have found that some steels turn out very different than others. I took of the bluing of my 1860 Army (Pietta) and polished it and tried the Brownells Classic Rust Blue and it looked so bad that I had to polish it all off again and still have not finished it.

January 27, 2013, 03:12 PM
Nice job mister Rappe! Love that old shotgun...

January 27, 2013, 08:24 PM
mrappe, yes I sanded the knife but I didn't knock myself out on it since its an experiment to see if I could get a finish anything close to what I'm wanting for the gun. I used 250 grit paper and the blade was partly rusted to start with (the knife is a beater camp knife I've had for about 20 something years). The knife actually looks pretty good after 4 more cycles and I like the deep blue satin finish I ended up with.

The shotgun looks awesome! The finish is a little smoother than what I am going for, but that is an awesome job. Isn't it great to have something you've worked on with your own hands?

I've got the gun down rusting now, looks like shes gonna need several cycles of rusting and carding, but I knew going in that this would be a long process. IF it turns out decent, I'll post pictures when its done.

January 28, 2013, 02:47 AM
I will be looking forward to seeing some pictures. The plum brown does look look like an antique gun. One point of interest that I found when I was looking into doing my 1860 was that the early Colt percussion pistols were not rust blued but Charcoal Blued. I am not sure about the Remington.

January 28, 2013, 05:40 AM
Colt's were charcoal and bone blued and the frames were color case hardened.

February 16, 2013, 10:01 AM
Well I'm finally starting to get some projects finished up here, too many irons in the fire causes slow progress :rolleyes: , but I've finally finished up on the rust bluing project and the gun didn't really take on any kind of blue at all. It reached a nice looking gray tone after 4 sessions of the process described in post #1 and would not go any darker even after 4 more sessions.

That said, I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. I think the gun looks great and I know the finish will darken a bit more over time. The grips were (before) painted a shiny black so I stripped that off to bare wood and stained them with a dark mahogany oil based stain and then rubbed em down with boiled linseed oil. So here are the pictures!





How can anyone NOT want a BP revolver? Seriously!

February 16, 2013, 05:05 PM
Nice job!

February 16, 2013, 05:27 PM
Thanks! It didn't turn out the way I expected when I started but I like the end result. Lot's of work, but worth it to me. :)

February 16, 2013, 07:19 PM
WOW! That looks GREAT!! I like it alot.