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Rust Bluing: Can You Do it At Home? Part II

By Keith Wood

Read Rust Bluing: Can You Do It At Home? Part 1

Once the red oxide converts to black (this will be obvious to the naked eye), it’s time to “card” off (remove) the excess rust. Wearing your gloves and using a soft wire brush, a wheel or degreased steel wool, you basically scrape the steel until all of the loose black rust is removed. Don’t use too much force or you might remove the finish that you’ve worked so hard to establish.

Now we re-coat the steel in solution, using a little less solution each time, and let it rust again. We don’t apply the solution more than once after the first cycle. When the rust forms, re-boil and re-card. This process is repeated anywhere from five to 12 times until you see the finish that you’re looking for.

Once the desired finish is achieved, liberally coat the steel in oil and let it sit for at least 24 hours.

The Verdict
Once we got the water situation figured out, rust bluing went exactly as the instructions said it would.
The result is a nice, satin finish and is attractive and durable. It takes plenty of time and effort, but minimal equipment cost. Rust bluing really is a finish that the home hobbyist can use to refinish steel firearms or components.

Next time, we’ll see how we do on a real firearm.

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4 Responses to Rust Bluing: Can You Do it At Home? Part II

SmithGunSmith wrote:
January 29, 2014

I melt snow all winter and store it in clean 5 gallon buckets.

Kris Whiteleather wrote:
February 03, 2013

You want de-ionized water, not distilled water. De-ionized water can be had at fish supply stores for about $0.40/gal. Bring your own containers. I always wondered about the boiling part. I leave mine in for 15mins, but it is kind of a pain to bring the water to a boil, keep it boiling for 15 mins, then lose all the heat during the next rusting process. Is the boiling actually needed, or can I just soak the metal in boiled water that is still hot?

Hank Doyle wrote:
December 09, 2012

rain water works for me off of the roof of a garage...im going to try creek water also

Randall Covington wrote:
September 19, 2012

Some shotgun barrels are porous and will continue to rust even when oiled. I find that RIG grease is better to seal the final finish.