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Thread: How do you rustproof and darken a knife blade?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    How do you rustproof and darken a knife blade?

    I'm using 1095 high carbon steel and I'd like to make it a little more corrosion resistant and if possible, darken it at the same time. I would like it dark blue or black. And I need an easy method, I don't have access to spray guns, chemical tanks or anything like that. Cold blue? Spray paint? I'm open to suggestions. Is there something like cold blue that is black?
    Anything that produces some sort of an explosion, can't be all bad.


    44minimum

  2. #2
    Boolit Master




    bruce drake's Avatar
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    Birchwood Casey Cold Blue is an easy way to darken a knife blade. I've done it in the past and it works as long as the blade isn't a cheap Chinese "stainless" blade.

    Bruce
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    oneokie's Avatar
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    Have heard that sticking the knife blade in a potato a leaving it for a period of time will do that.
    Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.

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  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Yep any of the cold blues will work to darken regular carbon steel. How much that prevents corrosion?- dunno. I like the potato idea. There are several fruit and vegetable juices that will do it also. Usually, for any "cold" bluing you need to get ALL the oil off and have the metal clean to begin with- alcohol or acetone works. Heat it a little and apply the chemical. Wash in water and scrub with 4-0 steel wool. Degrease again- repeat heat and application until desired darkness and eveness of coverage is reached. I like 44-40 for small bluing projects.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    This is a topic I'm gonna keep an eye on. I love shooting, working on guns, and reload sometimes, but have never cast a bullet. Excuse me, boolit... But I LOVE this site, I read it all the time, I think it has some of the most creative / innovative people on it.

    With a topic like this, I'm never surprised if it ends up being 5 pages or more, and someone posts a solution that costs like $3.27, is available at local stores, and works great

    About cold blue -

    Does cold bluing really do anything to protect the surface? I've heard various things.... ranging from "it just colors the steel, it provides no real protection" to "well applied, using the right cold blue, you get some protection... not as much as a good hot or rust blue, but better than nothing"

    Have you considered rust bluing?? It costs a few dollars for the chemicals, but I'm thinking that it is in the range of under $30, and would give you plenty of supplies to do a bunch of knife blades in the future if you wanted, or a few guns.

    I've never rust blued anything, but have certainly considered it. Seems like it takes more time & effort than money, but yeilds great results (done enough times, it is supposed to give you one of those "6 foot deep" blue jobs, and it does give a fair amount of corrosion protection)

    Besides the chemicals, you need a few things, but it sounds like those things are relatively common / cheap / easy to fabricate (like a pot to boil the water in, and a sort of "sweat box" to add a little heat and a lot of humidity - but that can be a box with a wet rag & a 50 watt electric bulb....)

    Anyways. That may be more effort / money than you want to spend.

    Another option, there are some popular spray on / paint like finishes available that are popular for finishing guns, maybe one of those would work for you

    The more I think about this, the more I think we need to know about what you want -

    How much are you willing to spend
    How much effort are you willing to put into this
    How much corrosion protection are you looking for
    How much upkeep are you willing to put into it (which kinda ties in to the question before)?

    If you want something that would survive days/weeks/months of salt spray without any real cleaning / oiling, thats different than something you are gonna keep in your truck, and are willing to clean it after use and put a little oil on it....

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Darkening Knife Blades

    I have a Marine Corps Fighting Knife that I cleaned up and used Cold Blue Solution on it over 30 years ago... It still looks good today.
    I simply keep it clean and put a little oil on it once in a while like the rest of my steel gear...
    There are several good articles on line about Home made gun blueing solutions.
    It's a simple matter to use the locally available cold blue solutions. If you don't like the finish polish it off and start over, I like the PASTE stuff, use a cotton ball, keep the surface WET !
    Make sure to DEGREASE !! Warm up the surface a little too, that helps rather than being stone cold..... Good luck ! "PJ"
    U.S. Army Veteran, RVN 69-70, D trp.(AIR) 3/4 Cav, 25th Inf. Div. CUCHI, Helicopter Crew Chief
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I have used the following process for many years on/for non-stainless steel blades.

    1. Clean the blade with detergent and water.
    2. Slice one or more tomatoes and put the blade aside - unwashed - while you "do your thing" with the tomatoes.
    3. Clean the blade with detergent and water. Towel dry.

    4. Repeat steps 1-3 as necessary.

    Believe it or not, oil or rust preventatives are not necessary to maintain the blade. Stropping/wiping the blade on your pant leg daily is all that need be done to a clean blade. "How do you know this?" you might reasonably ask.

    I carried a Cold Steel TwistMaster® medium clip point for about ten years. I had a phobia about rust and this inexpensive knife was my test medium to confirm speed and severity of rust within abnormally slackard conditions. The blade turned a mottled finish similar to a lousy case hardening job. Stropping for corrosion prevention was discovered by accident. The phobia caused me to examine the blade often. When I did this, I stropped it as a reflex. After several months, I realized the blade was not deteriorating in any way, so the stropping became less and less frequent - eventually reduced to once per day. I suspect this was still needlessly too often.

    This knife, that has in my opinion the single most useful blade shape, was retired when I O.D.'d and bought a Reeve Umnumzaan. While the CRT is a beautiful machine and significantly more durably designed than the TwistMaster®, the Cold Steel cheapie is orders of magnitude better value.

    Hope this helps.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master TCLouis's Avatar
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    I used a method suggested here in the past . . .

    Clean blade thoroughly with soap and hot water.

    clean blade with a degreaser.

    Coat with coating of plain ol repared yellow mustard and let it sit . . .

    Rinse off mustard


    May take more than one application

    Funny so many want that polished shiny blade ad the rest of us are looking to expedite the patina process.

    Wonder how Mustard would work on my 1886 to create a nice consistent patina?

    I can hear the groans now about that.
    Last edited by TCLouis; 04-10-2012 at 10:42 PM. Reason: additional info
    When one must, one can

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Gelandangan's Avatar
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    To make patina, simply soak the knife in a solution of citric acid, about 1 table spoon to a cup of water.
    Soak for about 6 - 8 hours and take out, rinse well then oil lightly.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    a.squibload's Avatar
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    +1 on the mustard!

    Granpa gave me my first sheath knife, a Western. Sometime while in Boy Scouts
    I used it to spread some mustard on a sandwich. Blade has been dark ever since,
    won't wash off, never has any rust. "Mustard bluing"?

    I never told him I threw that knife at a fence and broke the tip off.
    Almost has a point now after many sharpenings.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for the information. I'm not willing to spend very much, I don't have a whole lot of patience and I'm not really looking for some super duper corrosion protection that will withstand 820 days of salt water spray. I would just like to make some knives and keep them from rusting.
    Anything that produces some sort of an explosion, can't be all bad.


    44minimum

  12. #12
    Boolit Master


    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    pee on it. the original rust blue.
    sixgun junky

  13. #13
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    gwpercle's Avatar
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    I just went into the kitchen and looked at all the knives that are not stainless steel. Every one has a nice dark coating with no rust. All I do is use them in food preparation - like cutting, slicing and dicing meat and vegetables. Wash in hot water with a little soap, no scrubbing with comet or with a brillo pad. dry knife and put away. Now that I look at the coating it reminds me of the finish of a cast iron skillet bottom. I dont think it takes long for this patina to form and it's cheap.

    So just bring it in the kitchen and use it, actually the kitchen is where I use knives the most. Can't go hunting and fishing everyday but gotta eat and that means cooking.

  14. #14
    Whatever I want!



    tomme boy's Avatar
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    I like to put a age look to knives. Use a cold blue on it. Then put the knife in bleach. It will start to rust in front of your eyes. Depending on how old you want it to look, is how long to leave it in the bleach. If you leave it too long, it will eat the whole knife! This will darken and put pits in the knife. So be careful on how long yo do this. You will have to re sharpen this afterwards.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
    W.R.Buchanan's Avatar
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    You could always parkerize it. The solution is available from Brownells and you don't have to be a rockett scientist to use it.

    You do have to saturate it with oil afterwards but it will be far more rust resistant than any type of blueing or vegitable process.

    I made a few skeleton knives back in the 80's that I parkerized, and they came out a nice charcoal gray and looked good..'

    Don't put the final edge on the knife before you parkerize it or you will be doing it over.

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"

  16. #16
    Boolit Master DoubleAdobe's Avatar
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    Brownell's Oxpho-Blue, easy to use, great looking dark blue. Good for touch up on gun blueing, but I use it mostly on knives..
    Before I knew this however, I used lemon juice, potato juice, etc. with mixed results, but ruined a good Bulldog pocket knife by dropping it in a cup of vinegar for a couple of hours. It weakened the backspring so much, the spring broke the first time I used it. Doh!
    So, be careful of vinegar or anything else kind of strong on the springs.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master andremajic's Avatar
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    http://www.castboolits.gunloads.com/...d.php?t=137610

    I've detailed the process I used on this link above. All it involves is a battery charger, some scrap steel, baking soda and some fine 0000 steel wool.

    I'd boil the part as suggested by some other members to deactivate the rust, then use the steel wool to get ride of the excess rust.
    Cheap, fast and safe.
    "As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron."
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master
    Angus's Avatar
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    If you have a blaster and airbrush you could use Gun-Kote. It's really durable and rust proof everywhere but the cutting edge.
    1984 = 2013
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    there is new product out . its for inside and out . pricey but all reports are good . You ML guys would like it but most of you dont have any money so its out for you guys
    check out ---dynamicfinishes.com--- heading Dyna tec
    this is only for the guys that have money I have 4 sets on order

  20. #20
    Boolit Master TCLouis's Avatar
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    Never mind thread is so old I did not read all the post and come to find out as I read up I have already posted my suggestion.
    Last edited by TCLouis; 04-03-2012 at 08:55 PM. Reason: drop second posting of info
    When one must, one can

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