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Oil finish on large items

iron quake

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What methods are used to finish large items like tables and chairs. I'm a new blacksmith and have made some very nice furniture (so I'm told) recently. The finish however is a problem. I'd like that nice blackened and oiled appearance. I've resorted to sand blasting. This removes the mill scale from the hot rolled sections that don't get any heat and makes everything uniform, then reheat the whole item with a propane weed burner. I can then apply linseed oil or just a clear varathane. This its very inefficient and really not the look I'm after. Please help me out with your suggestions.

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I like to burnish sandblasted surfaces with wire brushes before bluing because it brightens up the dull, flat look and highlights the raised details....Oxpho is best IMO..

Then there's DOMO....(dirty old motor oil)....Heat with the weed burner, get up wind, slop it on and it gives a nice black finish. Washing the stink off is mandatory....Probly not a great idea if there are neighbors nearby.... ;)

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Sandblast then spray with cold blue (gun bluing, like Oxpho from Brownells); finish with clear lacquer or urethane. You can also spray with flat black paint, let dry thoroughly then abrade with sand paper followed by clear coat. Both make for nice finishes.

That's exactly what I was thinking of doing for a gate I'm finishing up this week. Good to know it worked for someone else. Permalac is the most durable clear coat I've ever come across, very pricey but worth it.
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Then there's DOMO....(dirty old motor oil)....Heat with the weed burner, get up wind, slop it on and it gives a nice black finish. Washing the stink off is mandatory..

My old Massey Ferguson drips an endless supply of this finish, into an old trash can lid placed on the floor, under the motor. :D

It makes a pretty good wood stain, too.

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Outside vs inside.

Maine has the extreme seasonal temperature differences and its tough on outside finishes. Outside we always paint the iron. Wire brush and clean the iron. Multiple coats of primer. Use different colors so you can see where you missed. Make sure the iron is at room temp. Use a good quality enamel spray paint. Apply in light multiple coats in a relatively dust free space.

In the case of the yard art, such as wind chimes, we go with the "all natural" rust finish. No maintenance required. If you need instant rust, wire brush the finished iron and use a spray on peroxide mixture. The oxidizer speeds up the process.

Inside. A lot depends on what the client's needs are in regard the deco scheme. Oil finishes are by far the best for showing off the facets of the forged iron but they have maintenance requirements. The beeswax linsed oil turpenting mix works well. This finish is not abrasion resistant and will wear off if handled frequently. For hardware we sometimes, acid etch the finished pieces to remove any scale, neutralize by washing (soap and water) and heat to draw temp colors and then seal coat. You can also hot oil treat at the same time you draw the colors. This process produces a random pattern look so for artistic consistency make sure the same guy does the work if it's a multi piece project.

Good luck and happy New Year,

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By far the best looking coating....shows off the hammer work.

wire brush on an angle grinder,
heat with torch (large rosebud),
apply 50-50 wax/boiled linseed oil with rag (I like to melt it in a double boiler and dip a rag into it),
wipe off excess with rag
the wipe rag becomes the application rag in no time.

You want the oil to smoke a bit when applied.....not flame. Be aware of NOT becoming Johnny Storm.
If you have a bright freshly ground area or electric weld you will need to heat till a good amount of scale forms and then wire brush or it will not match in color.

I have done railings and interior work with this. The only issues I have had is in bathrooms..with the hot shower and all.
I tell the clients to apply paste wax every six months but they never do....no rust issues in a decade in a normal home. If they leave the windows open and live on the coast your milage may very.

With outside work or stuff I simply do not wish to deal with I send it out to be blasted and powder coat painted.


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  • 1 year later...

turps thins out the beeswax and linseed oil. my recipe is 50/50 linseed and turps. per qusrt about a walnut to gokfball size beeswax. this is not a paste consistency, but a liquid.

I've mixed wo turps and at times w/o beeswax. but my preference is my formulaabove. seems to go on hot with a more consistent color. also even when done hot no turps seems to leave a linseed film and sometimes a sticky feeling after the iron cools that is not there otherwise.

I do clean with alcohol when cool and buff in a carnuba based furniture polish. the alcohol wipe does not remive the beeswax feel or smell, which is good.

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