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Author Topic: How to make my metal pretty?  (Read 3754 times)
Vermilion
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« on: March 03, 2007, 06:06:38 pm »

I figured with all these artists, tinkers, and just over all knowledgeable crowd. You would know some great ways of distressing and antiquing metals. Any help would be great.
 
I know vinegar can do some nice things to diff metals
then there was sidecar-jons greening of copper with ammonia

what other home remedies are there?

also what where the typical metals most used during the era?
« Last Edit: March 03, 2007, 06:08:56 pm by Vermilion » Logged
Talyn
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2007, 06:09:33 pm »

I know lemon juice can do cool things to steel and maybe aluminum, makes it really rust and corrodes it if you take something and wrap it in a lemon juice soaked rag for a few days outside.
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2007, 08:09:36 pm »

Don't forget heat too, a quick lick with a blow torch will turn copper and brass every colour under the rainbow, which can be fixed with lacquer. for a real crumbly very old look, heat to red hot and quench it in cold water, it shales off the black oxides and reveals reds and blacks.
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Jake von Slatt
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2007, 08:10:53 pm »

if you place brass in a closed Tupperware container with a smaller dish of ammonia overnight it will turn a nice aged brown color.  Don't let the ammonia actually touch the brass and make sure the brass is really clean first or you get a mottled finish.

J.
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cablemonkey
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2007, 08:15:13 pm »

Any tips for acheiving a high mirror polish?

-C.
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Jake von Slatt
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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2007, 08:28:15 pm »

Any tips for acheiving a high mirror polish?

-C.


Brasso and elbow grease!  I sometimes use a buffing wheel on my drill press but more then once the work piece has been ripped from my hands and slung across the workshop.

Don't do this, it's dangerous:



J.

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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2007, 08:28:56 pm »

On copper?...elbow grease!.. fine Wet and dry paper if its scratched, then fine wire wool then metal polish, lacquer it as it will "go off" in minuets.
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CapnHarlock
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2007, 09:53:26 pm »

Iron and steel (NOT galvanized) can be given interesting and "authentic" looking finishes by a couple of simple methods

Blueing (to look like the average blue-black gunbarrel) can be accomplished with a "cold-blueing" kit of chemicals available at any US gunshop or sporting goods store (I don't know - but there ought not  to be any firearm-related prohibition to UK importing - HAZMAT may be another story)

Browning is an older method requiring heat but no nasty chemicals. The best example I know of a browned steel surface is the color of a well-used carbon-steel wok in a Chinese restaurant kitchen.  Simply heat the dry steel object and wipe-on light coats of plain vegetable oil - the oil will discolor brown and multiple coats will form a smooth dark-brown rust-resistant coating. I believe that this metal finish is the origin of the name "Brown Bess" for the infantryman's musket.
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2007, 10:08:58 pm »

but there ought not  to be any firearm-related prohibition to UK importing - HAZMAT may be another story)


We do have gun shops in the UK and they do indeed have "cold blacking" chemicals, which is a whole lot easier than one method i found which was boiling iron in caustic soda (just don't try this at home!)

Another method of darkening copper and bronze , though i've not tried it myself, is a 50/50 mix of strong household bleach and vinegar, which is painted on, warning though, this will i think produce Chlorine gas which is corrosive to the lungs. So do it outside!
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2007, 10:28:26 pm »

This site http://www.artsandcraftsmetalwork.com/c6a.php has some interesting mixtures for those with access to serious chemicals, personally id draw the line at hydrofluoric acid, one cant trust a thing that dissolves glass! There's also some good stuff on metal working in general there. Especially if your thinking of doing some copper bowl making.
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Tinker
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2007, 10:50:31 pm »

I use a couple of patinas pretty commonly.

for Iron

If I want to age iron, I scrub it clean, and then scrub it again with a dilute solution of muriatic acid.  THis takes all the oil off, and leaves the metal really open to the air, so it rusts fast.  If I'm in a hurry, I'll mist it with salt water and leave it outside.  A similar process is 'browning' where the rust layer is brushed frequently to keep it smooth and prevent pitting.  After a smooth, tight rust layer forms, it's soaked in linseed oil or some similar drying oil to penetrate and preserve it.  This gives the traditional brown finish of some early armor and of the kentucky long rifle. 

Lots of stuff from the forge justs gets brushed with a wire wheel, which takes off the forge scale, burnishes the metal a bit, and makes the high parts shiny.  Then I use a cloth and paraffin wax to protect the surface.  It helps to warm the part a bit, to get the wax to penetrate any cracks and pores, and to leave a nice shiny surface.

I've done a lot of iron parts with black paint.  I use rustoleum brand, and thin it a bit with mineral spirits.

Bright iron parts can be heated with a torch to fire-blue them.  Wax them when you've got them looking right, so they don't tarnish further.

A saturated solution of copper sulphate in ten percent sulphuric acid will make a non-electric plate onto clean iron.  Just brush it on.  You can get a cleaner, thicker plate by using electricity.  Use the same electrolyte, and a copper cathode.  Electric plating doesn't make an actual layer of copper, but rather a layer of copper sludge on the part, unless the part is electrocleaned first, and this can be done right in the bath.  Reverse the polarity of your electrodes, and run with your highest amperage, till the surface of the iron part is freely gassing off hydrogen.  Leave it under the surface of the electrolyte while changing the polarity back, so you don't get any additional oxidation. I usually make a rather thin plate, just enough to change the color of the metal.  This copper layer can be colored by any patina used for copper alloys.

Commercial cold bluing solutions can give a rather nice dark blue.  I've made a couple of black powder rifles from kits, and used the cold blue solution on them with nice results.

On copper alloys:

Potassium Sulfide (liver of sulfur) solution colors copper alloys a blackish dark brown.

Selenium Sulfide, available as 'selenium toner' solution at photographic and darkroom supplies, gives a glossy greyish black on copper and copper alloys.  I find it similar to the color of polished hematite.

There are some japanese copper alloys specifically designed for their purple patina.  One I've worked with is Shibu-ichi, which is one quarter silver to three quarters copper.  Polishing and heating it gives a nice greyish purple oxide layer, which can be waxed to keep it from darkening further.  The other alloy I know of is Shaku-do, which is one quarter gold.  I've never worked with it, because of the expense.  I'd warn beginners away from shibu-ichi.  I found it to work harden very quickly, and get way too springy to easily form.  I HAD to do it for a jeweler's class, so I did, but it wasn't nearly as nice to work as brass.  The purpose of the metal is to give a contrast layer in 'mokume gane' which is a layered metal.  A big stack of sheets of shibu-ichi and sheets of pure copper were diffusion welded into an ingot, which was then forged to shape and finished.  At this point it looked like a pure copper piece, but when it was heated the shibu-ichi oxidizes at a much lower temperature and to a much darker color than the pure copper, so the piece develops a wood grained appearance.

Hope that's good for some extra ideas.

Andrew the Tinker
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Vermilion
Guest
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2007, 11:17:33 pm »

 Shocked I am eternally greatful for all this information. I tryed hunting on the net but always seemed to come up short on an encyclopedia of all types and how 2's
 Kiss
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Mad Salvager
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2007, 09:48:31 am »

If looking for a deep black try a can of 'High Heat BBQ' spray paint. It's meant for grills and steel that is subjected to high temps. It goes on really matte but the more you buff it with a fine cotton cloth (t-shirts work great) or super fine steel wool (0000) it develops this great deep shine that isn't matte, it isn't gloss, but this dark black sheen that you can't stop touching because it looks so soft but it's metal. It's the poor man's powder coat and it looks great.

It works on everthing because it's super sticky.Just make sure that surface you're working with is free of any oil anything.
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