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Thread: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

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    s2k29k is offline New User
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    Question Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    Well I have been trying different ways of coloring steel. I burned a shift knob yesterday to get the blue, purple, gold look and it looked great. I let it cool for a while. Once it was mostly cooled I touched it and wherever I touched it the color would go away or fade or what not. Is there any way to keep the color 100% how it was once burned after touching it and all? It seemed to just wipe away. I really like the blue color it gets but I want to give it a clear powder coaticon to preserve the color and prevent any rusting and all. Any recommendations?

    Also anyone know if there is a way to blue or blacken stainless steel? I am in the process of making shift knobs for my car as well as others and would like to make a stainless one so it won't need to be coated but would like to give it a gunicon metal color and keep a brushed or spun look to the metal.

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    Brintiff is offline Amateur Metal Finisher
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    You answered your own question, to preserve the colors they need to be sealed as they are very thin.

    Caswell sells a stainless blackening process

    Caswell Inc. - Black Oxide Kit

    If you want very controllable heat for your coloring check out Nitre Bluing salts from Brownells.


    Inst-362 Nitre Bluing Bluing

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    CarWiz's Avatar
    CarWiz is offline Metal Finishing Guru
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    You might check with a gunsmith that restores antique guns. Some of these were tempered in nearly a rainbow of colors. The process used to use some pretty nasty chemicals but check if there is a modern copy of the process. The process was actually used as a case hardening step. Here's an example of a Stevens 44.


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    s2k29k is offline New User
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    But won't the black oxide ruin the "burned" look? I am trying to keep the burned look to get clear powder coated over and sell it as a shift knob but running into the issue that the color seems to fade when touched. I let it completely cool today after burning again and seems to have held better but still lost some of the brightness of the burning color.



    Quote Originally Posted by Brintiff View Post
    You answered your own question, to preserve the colors they need to be sealed as they are very thin.

    Caswell sells a stainless blackening process

    Caswell Inc. - Black Oxide Kit

    If you want very controllable heat for your coloring check out Nitre Bluing salts from Brownells.


    Inst-362 Nitre Bluing Bluing

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    s2k29k is offline New User
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    Here are a couple pics of the color I was able to get with burning it. The colors are brighter than my camera shows for some reason.


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    FigureLLC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    i heat colored this (mild steel) and clear powder coated it. the clear actually enhanced the color.

    Len
    Figure Finishing
    www.FigureEngineering.com
    866-900-4949

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    Brintiff is offline Amateur Metal Finisher
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    Carwiz, no modern non hazardous case coloring exists, at least not one that looks like real case colors. The OP is just looking for coloring, case color hardening is a whole new ballgame.

    I've been trying to get real case color hardening down for 2 years or so, I am still not there. I'll get really nice colors one time and then garbage the next. The biggest problem with case color hardening is securing the piece so it does not warp, pretty much you need to fabricate a jig for each piece you work on.

    Len, nice work, it looks great.

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    s2k29k is offline New User
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    Quote Originally Posted by FigureLLC View Post
    i heat colored this (mild steel) and clear powder coated it. the clear actually enhanced the color.

    That looks great. I think it is harder to get the right color I want out of mine since it is so much thicker. It keeps changing color even after removing the torch correct? When I was burning the shift knob it got to a color combo I really liked so stopped heating it but it kept changing and lost most of the colors from it. I would love it if I could get the same colors you got with that and then clear powdercoated it.
    The color once cooled seems to lose some of the lust but maybe clearing it will bring more color out of it and make it look better since it will shine and all..

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    Brintiff is offline Amateur Metal Finisher
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    "I think it is harder to get the right color I want out of mine since it is so much thicker."

    Yup, I'd pretty much guarantee you cannot heat that piece evenly enough with a torch to get a matching color that stays all the way around.

    That's why I recommended the Nitre Bluing salts from Brownells. You heat the salts up to whatever temperature you require for the color you want, the salts hold temperature VERY well and heats the whole piece evenly.

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    s2k29k is offline New User
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    Default Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brintiff View Post
    "I think it is harder to get the right color I want out of mine since it is so much thicker."

    Yup, I'd pretty much guarantee you cannot heat that piece evenly enough with a torch to get a matching color that stays all the way around.

    That's why I recommended the Nitre Bluing salts from Brownells. You heat the salts up to whatever temperature you require for the color you want, the salts hold temperature VERY well and heats the whole piece evenly.

    Hmm which ones do I need? Anything else needed to do that? Is it easy?

    I don't mind not having a uniform color at all. Gradiation looks good I think but the colors just don't seem to be very dark at all. At least from what I've been able to get them to turn..
    Like the change in colors.

    Also any pictures of the blue you get from doing that? I bought some SUper blue liquid stuff and Perma Blue I think it is called. Only able to get them to turn a grayish color after polishing up to make uniform. Can't get a nice blue or black color from it..
    Last edited by s2k29k; 05-05-2009 at 01:03 AM.

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