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Rusting Question

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Here's my first carved/engraved steel practice piece (mild steel) with some rather hesitant practice cuts. I used my standard rusting formula of 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide (steaming hot), as much table salt as will dissolve, and a little vinegar. After several applications developing a thick coat of red rust, I boiled it for an hour in strong tea. As usual, it came out quite black, but when I scrubbed it with a toothbrush (nylon) and non-abrasive soap, most of the black went away, leaving black spots and the gray you see in the image.

 

In the past, the nice black has remained, what did I do wrong here? Is it the mild steel, or maybe I used too much vinegar so the rust didn't "stick" to the metal, eating it off as quickly as it formed?

post-11-1181768652.jpg

 

How do you do this, Ford? Jim? Anyone? :blink:

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In the past, the nice black has remained, what did I do wrong here? Is it the mild steel, or maybe I used too much vinegar so the rust didn't "stick" to the metal, eating it off as quickly as it formed?

 

In rust bluing, you keep on doing it again & again until the grey builds up to a nice black.

 

In the past, I've encouraged rusting using ferric chloride & a damp box (sealed box with a tray of water & a light bulb), then boiled the item & carded with fine wire wool it to remove the looser Fe3O4... Repeat 'til (doesn't) fade.

 

The boiling of rusty iron in green tea - I have to wonder if this is an iron tannate issue, same as the old vinegar/steel leather dye for black? That would be a different solution (no pun intended).

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Aloha Tom,

 

There is a link that has been posted previously to Higo inlay (sorry, haven't quite figured out links within the forum) that shows treatment of iron. While they allude to secret recipes, there are some good clues there. Perhaps Ford can elaborate.

 

KC

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Hi Tom,

 

I've had a fair bit of experience with bluing and browning of ferrous metals. Often, one piece of mild steel will react differently than another, given the same browning solution.

 

As mentioned, it is best to build up the patina in repeated applications, each one being darker than the next. Also, as mentioned, a humid environment helps a lot in speeding up the reaction. Also, de-greasing in acetone helps.

 

I have never tried your particular solution, but one that works well for me is a mixture of distilled water, nitric acid 9% (reagent grade), and ethanol 18%, and copper sulphate 5%. The solution goes on quite evenly, thanks to the Ethanol, then turns a bright copper color as the metal precipitates from the copper sulphate. The copper soon turns black, then a bright rust color after a few hours in a humidity tent. The piece is then taken out and either brushed with a fine stainless steel brush, or scrubbed with steel wool. (both have different effects on the end result) The solution is re-applied, and taken off, until the desired patina is achieved.

 

The piece can then be boiled to darken it, or just washed thoroughly in hot water to keep a dark brown.

 

I usually follow this up with a bit of paste wax, while the piece is still warm. After which, I have never seen any after-rusting

 

It takes a bit of practice, but excellent results can be achieved.

 

This is an old recipie for browning firearms barrels from a book on the subject: Angier, R.H., Firearm Bluing and Browning, Harrisburg Pa., Stackpole Books, 1936. Most of the recipies that I have seen from old armourers notes or texts are pretty much the same, going back to the 19th century. This book was written at a time when gunsmiths were still using the old ways of browning and bluing, and it is an excellent source for patination recipies for all sorts of ferrous metals, including laminated steels.

 

I tested a number of recipies from this book, and found that this one worked best for the applications that I was using, that being patinating replacement parts on early firearms. I found that the chloride based solutions were prone to after-rusting, and many of the other solutions contained toxic chemicals, such as mercuric salts. Although, I have seen some results from these, and some beautiful red-browns can be achieved.

 

Similar solutions are sold, pre-mixed, by various suppliers. One of the best that I have used is "Laurel Mountain Brown", which is available from Brownells. A nice even brown is guaranteed, but you won't get the varied effects that you could from the previous solution.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Phil

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Hi

 

 

post-1375-1181782788.jpgpost-1375-1181782764.jpg,

 

 

before i etching ( ferric chloride ) to make the irregular surface after this i use solution (water , nitric acid ,copper sulphate )

 

Regards

 

 

Remo

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Guest ford hallam

Hi all,

 

I think Phill has pretty much said it all. That reference you cite Phil, is one I've been after for a while now, I'm on it's trail again now :) .

 

I would just reiterate, take your time, lots of thin layers is the way to go. Also, by combining a number of approaches you can get more "depth. Avoid the salt type solutions, as Phil advises, they are a bugger to neutralise. I like to end with a boil in log-wood chips or tea. Both tannin solutions which darken the colour and seem to halt further activity. You can lighten the resultant colour by gently warming with a torch. Sulphide solutions can also be applied once the surface has been completely covered with a good rust coating. I like to finish with Renaissance wax.

 

Baldwins Plum brown is also an option although the colour is a bit too even and flat for my taste. It could be a help when used in conjunction with other methods.

 

As with all the rest; I'll eventually get a sabi-tzuke( rust based patina ) tutorial done. So much to do and so little time :D

 

cheers, Ford

 

actually, give me a little while and I'll post a procedure that is based on an old traditional method. It has proved quite good in practice.

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Guest ford hallam

This is an adjusted reciepe, based on a traditional Japanese rusting solution.

 

Vinegar 250 ml

Water 125 ml

Salt 5 grams

Copper Sulphate 1.5 grams

and 5 grams of liver of sulphur. ( Pottasium polysulphide ) or similar Jewellers silver "oxidising" solution.

 

Mix all the ingredients together and wipe onto the iron or steel just to wet the surface. Suspend the piece, I use a bent piece of wire as a simple hook, and allow to dry, Repeat twice a day, scrubbing any loose rust off when it appears. Use a stiff nylon brush or toothbrush. You can also periodically scrub the metal with crumpled up, wet newspaper. This process can take a week or more but can yield a very convincing colour for tsuba. Once you are satisfied with the depth of colour you can finish as described in some of the previous posts. The important thing is not to allow the rust to develop a crust, you want a thin layer of oxides ( and other compounds ) that doesn't encrust the surface, but enhances it.

 

good luck, Ford

 

p.s. Remo, I am now going to get those images of the chisels done. :)

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Thanks Ford,

 

This is a very simple recipie, and the ingredients should be easy to obtain. Some old European browning (or russeting) recipies call for salt and vinegar as well. I have achieved satisfactory results by spraying on just salt and vinegar in water, but it is unpredictable. The additional ingredients in this recipie should add a bit of bite to it. This is the first time that I have seen liver of sulphur in a recipe for iron patination though. Very interesting.

 

I will give it a try next time.

 

Phil

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Ah, Ha! I knew you folks would come through for me. I think I see where this went wrong. Also, thanks for the recipes - looks like that minor in chemistry might finally pay off after 33 years...

 

Thanks, Ford. I was thinking an afternoon of rusting was a long time, and was looking for a thick coat of rust (and achieving it!). Slow down. Thinner coat of rust. I was concerned with the possibility of a thick coat of rust obliterating some of the detail I worked so hard for. Have liver of sulfur on hand. Now to find an easy source of copper sulphate.

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Aloha Tom,

 

A really cool old enamalist in one of my classes said that he found copper sulfate (aka bluestone) in the local Home Depot. It was in a stump killer product if I recall correctly; analysis at 99%. Something like 2 lbs. for $10. I have to go cross island to check, but maybe someone can look around their locale for a product name. It might be available in garden centers. :)

 

KC

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Hi Tom,

I accidentally found a solution that puts a perfect color brown on iron and steel. "JAX" brown color for bronze. http://www.jaxchemical.com/ordering/shopexd.asp?id=37 It also works great to patina bronze a nice light to very dark brown and it even colors silicon bronze.The bronze colors within seconds when the piece is immersed. I like to take the piece out of the solution rinse it off and wipe it clean. If I want the piece darker I repeat the process. To do iron or steel you just dip the piece you want to color in the solution take it out wet and let it set over night. I found that it gives old tsuba that have been cleaned bright just the right color. If you want a black color boil the piece in tea (Ford's suggestion from TCP). "JAX" also makes a brown patina for steel but it doesn't work as well as the bronze solution.

Dick

 

After checking past threads I see I said all this before (Sep. 6 2005) in the "For Ford" I am really getting old. Sorry!

Dick

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Who among us could remember what they wrote on one particular day two years ago? At any age?

 

Finally I have a question or two to pull out of the swirl of information:

-When boiling a piece of metal in tea, does the sort of pan make a difference?

-When using a patina, does it matter what the container is made of that might hold a volume of the liquid for immersion of the metal piece?

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Hi Janel,

I use a teflon lined pan to boil the metal pieces in tea so there is no contamination. I use a glass dish when using the patina material since many patina's contain corrosive'sl that would leech material from a metal container. I also use a ceramic crock pot to heat and hold the Sparex solution I use as a pickle. I cut the steel edge off the rim on the glass top which would rust. Work's great.

Dick

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-When boiling a piece of metal in tea, does the sort of pan make a difference?

-When using a patina, does it matter what the container is made of that might hold a volume of the liquid for immersion of the metal piece?

 

Hi Janel,

 

traditionally copper or ceramic pots were used in Japan for patination. The best mixture of tea to achieve a cha-iro patina on bronze was made of strong green tea and some spangles. :)

 

regards Karl

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spangle

2 entries found for spangle-Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary

To select an entry, click on it.

 

Main Entry: 1span·gle

Pronunciation: 'spa[ng]-g&l

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English spangel, diminutive of spang shiny ornament, probably from Middle Dutch spange; akin to Old English spang buckle, Middle Dutch spannen to stretch

1 : a small plate of shining metal or plastic used for ornamentation especially on clothing

2 : a small glittering object or particle

 

 

:) In other words, a sparkely-dangle! :(

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Hi,

I found the word in an online dictionary. I wanted to refer on Galläpfel - these are tiny balls found on the downside of leaves of oak trees after an insect had bitten the leave. Hope you understand? :)

Karl

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Janel,

 

thanks for that reference, I know what that sort of spangle is, but I assumed Karl was referring to something he knows by its German name.

 

Thanks Karl, so it sounds like you use bug poo :blink::D , never mind, some of the Japanese mixes for patinating iron contain rat droppings, horse urine and crab innards! :blink: . The tricky part is getting the horse to stand still ;) Actually I think you may be referring to Oak gall, this was used with iron fillings to make black ink in the past. It also contains a lot of tannin, but then again so does red wine....hmmm :rolleyes:

 

cheers, Ford

 

I've just found this, it sounds very interesting and I might do a little expementation on steel.

 

"An abnormal growth on trees, usually oaks (Quercus infectoria) in Europe and the Near East and on sumacs (Rhus semialata) in China and Japan. Galls are formed when gall-wasp eggs are deposited on tree branches. The nutlike gall grows until the larvae are completely enveloped. The mature insect bores a hole through the gall in order to escape. Bluish-green galls, gathered before the insect escapes, are richest in gallotannic acid, though all galls contain 36-60% tannins. The tannins have been used for centuries for vegetable tanning of leather. When galls are combined with ferrous sulfate, a black dye is produced; alone, they produce a gray dye. Gall extract was also used as a mordant in the preparation of writing inks.

See attached image(s).

Synonyms

galls; nutgalls; gallnuts; noix de galle; oak apples; oak gall nuts; huur nuts; tamarisk gallo; pistacia gall; aleppo gall; Chinese gall; gall-nuts; Gallapfel (Deut.); agallas (Esp.); galle (Fr.); galla (It.); galappel (Ned.); "

 

so it's not bug poo at least :D

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Aloha

 

When applying the classic rust (iron oxide) and mild acid ebonizing solution, I've infused those woods that lack enough tannins with gallic acid (available from chemical supply houses). Woods like maple. For an excellent book on many old world techniques and recipes for wood treatment and finishes, look at Wood Finishing with George Frank. He was a master.

You must see Daniel Brush's book, Gold w/o Boundaries. As Karl said, what he does with steel, ivory and gold is not to be believed. He is obsessed. His tool shop is as much a historical archive as a working shop. He is one of the few people in the world who has a Holtzapffel lathe.

 

KC

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Hi Karl C

 

Would you talk about using the gallic acid/ebonizing solution in a new topic on the materials forum? We woodies and other affectable materials folks would be interested to learn about another way to enhance the color of wood.

 

Thanks!

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