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Home handgun finishing


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In my ongoing quest to completely avoid ever sending my guns off to professional gunsmiths, I am looking to find the best possible finish for my competition handguns that I can personally apply in my own shop at home.

So far, I have only used the Brownells flat black baking lacquer (which isn't bad stuff at all, and I like that I can re-spray/bake it whenever I want). I don't currently have a blasting cabinet, although I do have an air compressor and am considering purchasing the stuff so I can sand-blast/bead-blast gun parts to prep them for finishing, where appropriate.

Carlos mentioned that he has done black phosphating for himself. I'd like to hear more about that.

Has anyone tried electroless nickel finishing at home?

I'm not real thrilled about the idea of setting up a small bluing operation, although I do have an outbuilding that is not attached to my house which I could potentially use to house all the toxic stuff. With the tanks and burners and stuff, I figure it will be too expensive anyway....

Talk to me.


P.S. to any professional gunsmith who might not understand why I need to end our relationship: It's not you.....it's me.....and I hope we can still be friends. ;)

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Carmoney wrote: "Carlos mentioned that he has done black phosphating for himself. I'd like to hear more about that."

Pictures to follow. For now, everyone interested can take a look at the sub-forum "Metal & Stock Fishish" at a site where I often post in the forum section (as user CBR600):


As for parkerizing: 2 quick points: 1) traditional zink park is colored from light to dark grey to the holy-grail of park: WWII green. In contrast to the traditional zink, I use modern manganese park which is coal black on high carbon steel like the 4140 used to make STI (less black on castings like the Para). 2) there are many things that can go wrong in the process but one of the most critical steps is surface prep. I have blasted using forms of media from plain sand to oxide to glass beads. Stripping old blue, cleaning, degreasing, blasting, cleaning, degreasing, - prep is everything.

As for Blueing: you wrote: "I'm not real thrilled about the idea . . .all the toxic stuff. . . too expensive anyway...." I agree with you 100%. I ordered the detailed instructions from Brownells after I obtained some salts from a friend. Blueing is not for me since its easy to screw up & very toxic (and I live in a 900 sq foot condo w/ no work room). I will admit, however, it really does look quite attractive when done properly (even if it is not very durable).

Douglas (aka Carlos aka CBR600)

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Or you could go for the ancient, tried and true, rust blueing. Oh sure, it takes a month of sundays to get it right but oh man what a finish. And it is nice and durable as long as you do your part and keep it oiled.

Somewhere around here I have a hunk of high carbon steel that I rust blued in college after reading about how to do it in the college library. I think I spent several months working on it to see how far I could take it.

I am not that patient any longer.

Hot blueing can be done on a small scale for pistol parts rather easily. My dad reblued a pistol on his kitchen stove way back when. The pan he did it in took on this nice blue color...andso did his arse when Mom caught him. :D Or so I am told. This was before I came along.

Anyone that has handled toxic chemicals and is familiar with the protocols won't have many problems. Of course I used to handle HCN, HF, Ricin and a host of "screw up once and you are dead" substances on a regular basis when I was a lab rat/grad student so blueing salts don't really scare me much. ;)

There are also some newer cold blue kits like "Blue Wonder" that do a pretty nice job. Even a good old Birchwood Casey cold blue kit can do a passable job if you are careful, work slowly and take your time.

And if you want someone to walk up to you at every match and ask about your finish go for that wonderful plum brown that is found on traditional muzzleloaders. :lol:

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