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Michael Stuart

Common Household Chemicals on metal

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I was interested in different household chemicals used to give finishes or teatment to metal. Boil a blade in Clorox and it will age steel with pitting.

Dish washing liquid, Jet dry,and Salt make "Super quench"

Nitric acid applied then heated makes wood grain very bold in some woods(Sycamore looks awful). Anybody got any other hints?

 

Yellow Hammer

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Ammonia fumes give some varieties of oak a nice dark finish; IIRC Mission-style furniture used this technique a lot. Lots of folks use a soak in vinegar to remove scale from forged iron, but not as many know that the leftover vinegar-iron sludge also makes an interesting black finish on oak.

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You can bury a piece of CLEAN bronze in salt, sit an open jar of ammonia next to it and then cover it with a bowl or bucket. The fumes from the ammonia will react with the salt and patina the bronze a nice dark blue.

Should work on copper too.

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The vinegar and iron finish is a good for oak.  Take an equal measure of vinegar and water, add some rusty iron (I'm sure you've got some rusty iron about :D ), and let it soak for a couple of days.  Remove the iron and pour the liquid through a coffee filter or a paper towel to remove the iron particles.  Wipe this mix on your oak and the tannin heavy areas will turn dark black.  You usualy get colors from grey through black.  Its not just a surface effect, it goes deep into the oak, it's a chemical reaction with the tannins in the wood.

 

Geoff

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The vinegar and iron finish is a good for oak.  Take an equal measure of vinegar and water, add some rusty iron (I'm sure you've got some rusty iron about :D ), and let it soak for a couple of days.  Remove the iron and pour the liquid through a coffee filter or a paper towel to remove the iron particles.  Wipe this mix on your oak and the tannin heavy areas will turn dark black.  You usually get colors from grey through black.  Its not just a surface effect, it goes deep into the oak, it's a chemical reaction with the tannins in the wood.

 

Geoff

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Peroxide works much faster if you add about a 1/4 cup of vinegar to the pint of peroxide and a couple of tablespoons of salt. If you heat the iron so that the solution almost boils off you get absolutely instant rust. You do have to put up with the vinegar smell.

The above makes a beautiful copper/red brown finish on iron/steel.

 

Chlorine Bleach will etch steel without boiling just soak the steel in it or wrap a cloth soaked in bleach around the metal and put in a plastic bag for 15-30 minutes at a time. Scrub down with steel wool and then wash in boiling water with baking soda for 10 minutes to kill the reaction. This makes a very tough "French Gray" colored finish.

(actually what you are doing is forming Ferric Chloride - chlorine + iron = ferric chloride)

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The iron/vinegar solution also works as a nearly black dye on oak tanned leather.

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potassium permanganate [ sears sells it for water conditioners] - just a tea spoon of it in a quart or two of water will make antlers or bones look old. they come out looking purple, but after drying look good. also, mustard dabbed on a blade gives it an old time look. leave it dry, wash it off and redo until you get the look you want. throw a blade in a plastic bag of cut up onions and/or tomatoes- that el age it.  paul

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I have a friend who teaches at the Auburn University Vet School and he builds animal skeletons for the school. A Zoo will call him and say they have had an animal  to die and ship him the carcass. He renders the carcass in steam kettles but to bleach the bones white he adds onions which also covers up the smell of that long dead giraffe or such. Should work on bovine type horns as well.

 

Yellow Hammer

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Yummy, just add some salt and a bay leaf or two and it's giraffe soup time  :P

 

Seriously, I boiled a thanksgiving ham bone for hours but it was still a bit greasy and yellowish; a 20 minute boil with lots of borax in the water cleaned it up the rest of the way, but smelled nasty. Then I looked closely and found out it had been 'spiral sliced' all the way into the bone. The surface was starting to break down a little bit from all the boiling. Could be time for a spiral wire inlay, or then again, a treat for the dogs. Speaking of which, some pet store bones are well bleached but still structurally sound. If anyone can suggest how to saw and drill these bones cleanly, I'd love to hear about it.

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the first knife i forged at the abs school was a small "3 finger knife" as batson called  them. when i got home i put a bone i cut and drilled from a pet store. wear it everyday- didn't have any trouble- but it's the only one i did from a pet store bone. what problems you having?  paul

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Will the bleach thing work on damascus? I have been having a bugger of a time finding ferric chloride after I bought out all of the local radio shacks :P

Jesse

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I haven't found a pet store bone the size/shape I want, but it seems with other 'found' bones like they want to splinter or split where a hole is drilled. I have a couple of bone scales I want to use at some point, but I don't want them to split so I haven't done anything with them yet. So for a 1/8 inch or so pin hole, what drill speed would you recommend, faster, slower, doesn't matter? I've got a drill press with 9 speeds, although I usually leave it on the slowest setting since I mostly am drilling metal.

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I've used several pet store bones with good results. They machine well, albeit with a decided dental-appointment smell! I don't go past the hard outer surface when sanding. Also, I like to immerse them in wood hardener for several days (At least. Even longer is more gooder) before use, then let them dry for several more. Wood stain won't take on that surface, but leather dye works wonderfully.

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leather dye will penatrate much deaper than most syes that i have found. many stains can be scrached off. not does leather dye work on bones but works wonders on wood too.

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leather dye will penatrate much deaper than most dyes/stains that i have found. many stains can be scratched off. not only does leather dye work on bone/antler but works wonders on wood too. i like to use the stain black then sand off black and add lighter color, kinda gives oak the effect of zebra wood.

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My source for ferric chloride is Cronite

 

The shipping is very expensive.

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If you're patient and willing you can make your own ferric chloride.  Buy some muriatic acid at the local home shop.  That stuff is about 70% hydrochloric acid and used for cleaning concrete etc.  Put some iron filings, swarf, whatever, in a container with the MA and let it sit until it turns a nice dark brown color.  Occasionally, allow the container to breathe a little and let some of the water evaporate to concentrate the mixture.  As you use up the iron filings or use it to etch, it will accumulate more ferric chloride and less  hydrochloric acid.  When it starts to "cut" in weaker fashion, add some HCL back into the container to recharge it.  

 

See the previous threads on this subject.

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My local Radio shack didn't have feric but ordered it in a few days no problem. Will your store not do this for you?

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Here's one that smiths use.  On a piece of warm steel, say 400 degrees, go over the surface with a brass bristle brush.  The warm steel will pull the brass to the surface, giving you a bronzey color.  The longer you go, up to a point, the more intense the bronze color you get.  The patina will wear, which can give you some interesting effects, as well.

 

Geoff

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On the subject of bone and it's preparation for working: not exactly a household "chemical" but Demestid Beetles will do a workmanlike job of cleaning the meat and fat off the bones that you can get from the meat dept. down at the supermarket.  If you have a hook with someone at the City Zoo, you're in like Flynn.  The bones are free, the beetles are free, what's not to like?

 

You can pick enough beetles off of a few roadkilled possum, or set up a "trap", to start your own colony.  The various maceration techniques have their advantages but carrion beetles will do 99.5% of the work while you perfect your martini recipe.  Then, you can bleach, stabilize, etc. like a gentleperson.  Some suitable species of carrion beetle can be found almost anywhere in the world.

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