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BGV Formula Sheet


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I wanted to share a few selections from the formula sheet created by our members in our July newsletter. The following is what appeared exactly in the newsletter. The full July newsletter and other newsletters can be downloaded off of our website under the "NEWSLETTERS" page. Here is a link to the site: Blacksmith Guild of Viriginia - Home

Preserving Our Pieces
Waxes, Finishes, and Other Useful Concoctions
from: "The Virginian" July 2007 Volume 2 Issue 7

Doug Merkel: Wax for All Seasons
A significant portion of my work deals with the repairs and reproduction of antique ironwork. Most of my customers want a natural finish that looks old, protects the metal and can be touched up if needed without lots of work or fancy chemicals. To meet their needs, I have modified a few formulas that have been around for sometime into one that works for me and my customers. For some of the larger jobs, I leave a small container of the wax for use by the customer. It wears well inside and does quite well outside, if applied correctly. I have a piece of ironwork with this finish that has been out in the elements for over a year without rusting.
1 cup Johnson's Paste Wax
1 cup Boiled Linseed Oil
1 cup Turpentine
1/2 cup Shaved/pieces of Beeswax
2 tbsp. Japan Dryer
The first three ingredients can be obtained at most any hardware store, such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc. The Japan Dryer is used by artists to speed the drying time for their oil paints, so is available at many art supply stores. The beeswax can be obtained from a local beekeeper, beekeeper supply shops, or blacksmith supply companies.

Mixing the Ingredients

Put all the ingredients into a glass quart jar; put the lid on with the retaining ring very loose. A metal can may be used, but it needs a tightly fitting cover. Either set up a double boiler or set next to your forge to get the mixture to melt. Do not put directly on the heat source and watch out for open flames. Once the ingredients are melted, tighten the lid ring and shake like crazy until all the wax is dissolved and is a homogenous mix. As it cools, it will become a soft paste. Keep the lid on when not in use.

Metal Preparation

Remove all scale with a power wire brush or by hand. If you want a dark finish, remove the scale at a dull red and let the metal air cool until you can just handle it with your bare hands. For a brighter finish, use a power wire brush and remove all the scale while the metal is cold, then apply enough heat until you can just hold it in your hand.


Apply the mixture with a brush, your fingers, or with a small rag. The heat will melt the mix and it will run into every nook and cranny. Let it cool and buff out with a rag. If you let the excess mix stay on the iron, it will eventually harden, but every place that has excess will show up as a bright spot. A second coat can be added to heighten the luster while the metal is cold. Just remember to buff off the excess with a cloth.

Brian Gilbert: Renaissance Wax
The wax is easy.... just remember 3 to 1... that's three parts microcrystalline wax to one part poly AC (or "polythene A," if you get it from a conservator's supply place). Melt together OUTDOORS using a hot plate... Don't use an open flame; it's very flammable when melted. Add "white spirit" to the melted mix and stir to get the consistency desired. Odorless mineral spirits is a close substitute for white spirit... it's a higher-grade than plain paint thinner. I bought my wax from a company called Genwax, but be sure to co-op with other blacksmiths to split an order...
I've got more than I'll ever need (the micro wax comes in a 10-lb slab...I've had the best luck cutting it with a sharp, clean wood chisel). This finish might not be an exact duplicate of renaissance wax, but it's pretty close. It can be applied hot or cold... museum conservators like it because it's PH- neutral, unlike beeswax. It also seems to cure out to a harder finish... it has a less "sticky" feeling than a beeswax finish. I've even experimented with it on paper... it goes on with minimal discoloration. Try it – it's fun stuff.

Lance Davis: Welding Flux
As for welding flux, here is my story. I took a class a couple years ago with Roberta Elliott at John C Campbell Folk School. She instructed the class that she would teach us how to make a forge weld before everyone else told us how hard it is and you can't do it. She used Boric acid (roach powder) and Red Iron Oxide (rust) 50/50 mix and everyone did a successful forge weld.

Randy Cox: Colorful Finish for Copper Pieces (used at his demo at Yesteryear Forge Hammer-In 2006)
I use about a cup of twenty mule team to two gallons of water. Heat the copper to cherry red and instantly dip into the borax mixture. By altering the level of heat, you can change the intensity of the red color that you get.

Bob Rowe: Satin Finish
Here is a technique I use for leaving a satin finish on iron or steel. I place the items in a small cement mixer inside a 5 gallon bucket with a lid securely in place. Along with the items in the bucket you need to put in case harden nails (cut concrete type). Tumble the items until fire scale is removed (about 15 or 20 minutes). The next step is to have another 5 gal bucket with Sphagnum moss (used to absorbed oil spills). This when tumbled with the iron or steel items encapsulates the scale dust leaving them with a great satin finish. Dust free.

Mike Gillespie: Rust Finish
If you want an almost "instant" rust effect, Jax Chemical Company sells a product called Antique Rust (JAX Chemical Company | Metal Finishing, Green Patina, Polishing Solutions). It is made of Ammonium Chloride. You can see it take effect on clean metal almost overnight, but a few extra days is even better.
They also have other finishes and products available for different metals. I've used the green patina on copper and it works best if you sand blast the copper first.

Peyton Anderson: Cheap Alternatives
1.Wal-Mart .96 cent flat black and satin clear spray paint
2.Power wire brush at a gray heat to achieve a blue-black finish then spray on a clear coat of paint.
3.Use a brass brush made for cleaning grills to put a slight brass patina on a piece. Brush at a gray heat. The more you brush the “brassier” it gets.
4.Throw some green coal on the fire and allow the piece to be consumed in the smoke. Roll it around and cover the whole thing is soot. Then apply your sealer coat of wax or paint.

Special thanks to Sarah Tanner Anderson the guild's editor for her work on this and every newsletter, the members who sent in submissions, and to Glenn for making the Blacksmith Guild of Virginia a part of iforgeiron!


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  • 1 month later...

Thanks Peyton for the valuable info. I am new to this blacksmith stuff. I am having a great time going through the info on this site. I have a binder in my shop with material I've printed. It's getting so I'm going to have to start a second binder soon. Thanks again to you, and all others, for sharing your knowledge.

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