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Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

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  • 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 coat 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 gun metal color and keep a brushed or spun look to the metal.

  • #2
    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

    Comment


    • #3
      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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      • #4
        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.



        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

        Comment


        • #5
          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.

          Comment


          • #6
            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

            Comment


            • #7
              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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              • #8
                Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

                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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                • #9
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

                    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, 12:03 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

                      It's called a "bluing salt" but it is not like the cold blues you have been using. The only thing Nitre bluing salts do is enable you to hold a steady temperature and to be able to heat the whole piece uniformly. When melted it's basically a thick liquid that will not boil and will go to a very high temperature.

                      You'd need something to place the salts in and something to heat them up, like a propane stove. I'd advise against using it indoors without ventilation.

                      Obviously you need to be very careful with a liquid that could be 600 degrees, any part placed in the liquid that contained a little water from cleaning or whatever would cause a very violent reaction when placed in the salts.

                      Nitre Blue is nothing but Potassium Nitrate, I should have mentioned it before but forgot. Stump remover, the stuff that you use to burn out a stump is pure potassium nitrate. Most hardware stores and garden stores carry it. If you look at the ingredients it should list potassium nitrate as the main ingredient. It is usually sold in a 1lb bottle for $3, you'll need 3 or 4 pounds probably.

                      Below is a link to a video I found on YouTube that shows the process. Also remember, by adjusting the heat you can get whatever color you want.

                      YouTube - Nitre bluing a few gun parts

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                      • #12
                        Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

                        Originally posted by s2k29k View Post
                        That looks great. I think it is harder to get the right color I want out of mine since it is so much thicker.
                        thanks! yeah, i can imagine it gets harder with thicker materials. i haven't done a lot of this, but there's certainly some trial and error involved to figure out the heat affects the metal color.
                        Len
                        Figure Finishing
                        www.FigureEngineering.com
                        866-900-4949

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

                          So did you every find the solution?
                          I too would like to preserve the colors on heat treated stainless. I tried laquer but it just smeared the colors to gray.

                          Thanks,

                          Paul

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                          • #14
                            Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

                            What about quenching it in water when you have your color?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Heat coloring steel. How to keep color?

                              Thanks, I will give that one a try.

                              But I guess the issue is that it needs a coating of some sort to keep the oxide layer from rubbing off, and the coating seems to blur/dull the colors. The best I have found is a product called proteca clear. It sprays on and keeps most of the color.....

                              Thanks

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