This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
Oil or wax may be employed on hard steel tools; with both methods the tool loses more or less of its hardness and the blacking process therefore is suited only for tools which are used for working wood or at least need not be very hard, at any rate not for tools which are employed for working steel or cast iron. The handsomest glossy black color is obtained by first polishing the tool neatly again after it has been hardened in water, next causing it to assume on a grate or a hot plate the necessary tempering color, yellow, violet blue, etc., then dipping it in molten, not too hot, yellow wax and burning off the adhering wax, after withdrawal, at a fire, without, however, further heating the tool. Finally dip the tool again into the wax and repeat the burning off at the flame until the shade is a nice lustrous black, whereupon the tool may be cooled off in water. The wax is supposed to impart greater toughness to the tool. It is advisable for all tools to have a trough of fat ready, which has been heated to the necessary tempering degree, and the tools after hardening in water are suspended in the fat until they have acquired the temperature of the fat bath. When the parts are taken out and slowly allowed to cool, they will be a nice, but not lustrous, black.
The following has been suggested for either steel or iron:
Bismuth chloride. .. 1 part Mercury bichloride. 2 parts Copper chloride. ... 1 part Hydrochloric acid .. 6 parts
Alcohol........... 5 parts
Water sufficient to make 64 parts. Mix. As in all such processes a great deal depends upon having the article to be treated absolutely clean and free from grease. Unless this is the case uniform results are impossible. The liquid may be applied with a swab, or a brush, but if the object is small enough to dip into the liquid better results may thus be obtained than in any other way. The covering thus put on is said to be very lasting, and a sure protection against oxidation.
Heat an iron bar to redness and lay it on a receptacle filled with water. On this bar place the objects to be blued, with the polished side up. As soon as the article has acquired the desired color cause it to fall quickly into the water. The pieces to be blued must always previously be polished with pumice stone or fine emery.
For screws: Take an old watch barrel and drill as many holes into the head of it as the number of screws to be blued. Fill it about one-fourth full of brass or iron filings, put in the head, and then fit a wire long enough to bend over for a handle, into the arbor holes— head of the barrel upward. Brighten the heads of the screws, set them, point downward, into the holes already drilled, and expose the bottom of the barrel to the lamp until the screws assume the color you wish.
To blue gun-barrels, etc., dissolve 2 parts of crystallized chloride of iron; 2 parts solid chloride of antimony; 1 part gallic acid in 4 or 5 parts of water; apply with a small sponge, and let dry in the air. Repeat this two or three times, then wash with water, and dry. Rub with boiled linseed oil to deepen the shade. Repeat this until satisfied with the result.
The bluing of gun barrels is effected by heating evenly in a muffle until the desired blue color is raised, the barrel being first made clean and bright with emery cloth, leaving no marks of grease or dirt upon the metal when the bluing takes place, and then allow to cool in the air. It requires considerable experience to obtain an even clear blue.
The following recipe for browning is from the United States Ordnance Manual: Spirits of wine, 1.5 ounces; tincture of iron, 1.5 ounces; corrosive sublimate, 1.5 ounces; sweet spirits of niter, 1.5 ounces; blue vitriol, 1 ounce; nitric acid, 0.75 ounce. Mix and dissolve in 1 quart of warm water and keep in a glass jar. Clean the barrel well with caustic soda water to remove grease or oil. Then clean the surface of all stains and marks with emery paper or cloth, so as to produce an even, bright surface for the acid to act upon, and one without finger marks. Stop the bore and vent with wooden plugs. Then apply the mixture to every part with a sponge or rag, and expose to the air for 24 hours, when the loose rust should be rubbed off with a steel scratch brush. Use the mixture and the scratch brush twice, and more if necessary, and finally wash in boiling water, dry quickly, and wipe with linseed oil or varnish with shellac.
Apply four coats of the following solution, allowing each several hours to dry. Brush after each coat if necessary. After the last coat is dry, rub down hard.
Sulphate of copper. .. 1 ounce Sweet spirits of niter.. 1 ounce Distilled water....... 1 pint
This is a brightly polished metal, which is provided with a black or blue-black foundation by heating, is covered with a design by the use of a suitable matrix and then treated with hydrochloric acid in such a manner that only the black ground is attacked, the metal underneath remaining untouched. Next, the acid is rinsed off and the reserve is removed with suitable solvents. The parts of the metal bared by the acid may also be provided with a galvanic coating of silver or other metal.
Another method is to plunge the articles for a few minutes into a solution of oxalic acid and to clean them by passing them through alcohol. In this way the polish can even be brought back without the use of rouge or diamantine.
If dissatisfied with the color acquired in tempering, dip the article into an acid bath, which whitens it, after which the bluing operation is repeated. This method is of great service, but it is important to remember always thoroughly to wash after the use of acid and then allow the object to remain for a few minutes in alcohol. Sulphuric acid does not whiten well, often leaving dark shades on the surface. Hydrochloric acid gives better results. Small pieces of steel are also whitened with a piece of pith moistened with dilute sulphuric acid, else the fine steel work, such as a watch hand, is fixed with lacquer on a plate and whitened by means of pith and polishing rouge, or a small stiff brush is charged with the same material. It is then detached by heating and cleaned in hot alcohol.