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Shop Fun with Scott Grandstaff


Cold Blue

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Well, I love chrome. Especially the really thick old school chrome that you get to really dig into with a buffing wheel and bring it up bright mirror hot!! Unfortunately much of the new stuff is micro thin and most of the old stuff is worn. There isn't much way to restore chrome at home.

You can buy small plating equipment outfits from one or two companies. But the procedure is long and expensive.  It takes up a lot of room too with the several tanks and multiple plating to get chrome. You have to plate copper, and then nickel, and finally chrome.

Professional plating shops don't want to know you for a 2 dollar pair of pliers. I mean they'd be glad to have the job but unless you can bribe your way in with cases of beer or something, it won't be cheap to restore old tools. Otherwise everybody would do it.

So for the practical cheapskate, an oxide finish is what it comes down to. Real gun blue is another of those things you can't really do casually at home. It takes several tanks and temperature control and cyanide and saltpeter and time.

Yadda yadda...

But there are a few cold oxidize chemicals sold everywhere. Glass shops sell patina and every gun and sporting goods sells cold blue. I secretly think they are all the same myself. Neither does true blue or true black.

Dark gray is what its known as. Here are today's candidates. Worn and pitted and generally ruined for pretty. But still great tools, just haggard looking.

Well first you have to get the remains of the old plating off and prep the surface by grinding out the worst of the pitts.

I mean, if this is a fine flintlock pistol you are going to want to hand rub every bit out to 2000 grit but hey these are garage tools. A decent surface its good enough and probably smoother than inexpensive plating jobs anyway.  Namely satin plating, which just means, "we didn't polish the tool before plating. A quick sand blast was good enough." I use different sanding techniques depending on the project. A belt sander is essential.

Plus my other favorite, a sanding mop. These are killer but they do cost money. But one time i got a score of some industrial belts about 1/2 mile long.

Its weird but super long belts sometimes come around much cheaper than anything anyone at home has a machine for.

So I cut them up and make my own mops. Not as good as Klingspor mops, but then they are free so beat that!

I also use small rubber backing disks and sanding disks a lot. But hey everyone knows what a sanding disk looks like, no need for pictures. My favorite are the vintage soft natural rubber pads.

The modern vinyl are totally worthless if you ask me. A hand drill turning at 3000 is best but use the speed control a lot too. You have to slow down for the curves! When you get them clean, put on your rubber gloves. You don't want finger oil to mess with you!!


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