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Mirror Blued Finish?

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Has anyone here achieved a good blued mirror finish?  And if so can you explain how you did it? 

In my mind at least it's the perfect finish for one of my blades, but my only attempt so far was a miserable failure.  After getting the mirror finish and wiping the blade down well with acetone then allowing it to dry I applied some cold bluing, but it didn't look good at all.  I ended up having to go back to 600 grit and start the finish process again to remove the traces of bluing that remained.  If any of you have a method that produces a good blued mirror finish I'm all ears (or eyes I guess).

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I saw a pretty great mirrior blued finish on a blade but unfortunately i beleive it would have made the blade softer than is ideal. Tony Swaton did a version of the sword sting from the lord of the rings movie where one side was a mirror polish and the other side was blue like the sword would normally look. To achieve this he polished up the sword then put it into his heat treat oven until the entire blade achieved that blue colour then polished off one side back to normal. Not sure if that helps or not but you can google   Man at Arms - Sting  and watch the video for your self. Good Luck

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Blue temper colors would definitely result in softer steel than I want for the blade, but the visual effect is good.

20 hours ago, Steve Sells said:

cold blu is for touch ups at best, try hot bluing.

Looks like a lot of the hot blue salts are used at 500+ degrees F.  I don't want to change the temper with bluing and I'd also want to make sure this gives the desired result before spending the time and money on it.  Is this something you have done and can recommend a specific product/process or were you offering a suggestion for the next thing to try?

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500?  look at Brownells oxy 7 salts, they process well below tempering temperatures.  There is also BLACK OXIDE that is durable and a room temperature process.,

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Brownell's is one I was looking at.  Specifically the Nitreblue.  The Oxynate 7 didn't give a temperature in the description, and they charge a dollar for the instructions, so I'll have to dig a little deeper.

I don't like to farm out anything in my blade making, but I may check with a local gunsmith and see if I can get them to do one for me before pursuing this any further on my own.

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If I get that far along.  It looks like multiple tanks are needed, a good way to keep the temperature where it needs to be, proper PPE, etc. to safely and successfully do hot bluing.  Right now I don't have the spare space or funds to set that up properly.  I've seen several home brew recipes as well, but experimenting with hot caustic materials isn't what I want to do.  If one of the local gunsmiths has a setup and is willing I think I'll see if I can watch someone who knows what they are doing before I plunge in head first.

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My thought is listen to Steve.  He has put in the time and has had the success and oh crap what have I done points in blade making.  Ask right and you shall receive.  He is good stuff with a lot of knowledge.  

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The secret to getting great advice from Steve is very simple, ask politely, do your homework and thank him (works on most of the IFI curmudgeons) generaly but not always in that order...

PS, be prepared for more information than you had ever hoped for.

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I used Brownell's OxyphoBlue on one blade for sure, for my young lad.  As a cold blue, it's a touchup, but I kept heating it in boiling salt water each application and polishing with steel wool.  Ten applications, at least.

For old tools I've restored, I've used a phosphoric acid etch also, then regular cold blue to (steel hot as you can stand) in multiple applications to get the tint and consistency to suit.  

Hardware store phosphoric, muriatic and cider vinegar are my goto store-bought etchants.  They sometimes yield quite different results on a given piece of steel, even more so with different alloys.  Home leached tannic sometimes works when nothing else does.  It always seems to turn into a chemistry experiment.....

Go outside, use PPE & stay upwind.

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I've achieved a good blued mirror finish with "slow" rust bluing. I use Mark Lee express blue but my understanding is that most of those instant plum browns followed by boiling will give you the same effect.

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When we hot blued with Brownell's salts it was 291*F. 

Du Lite has some nice features over Brownell's salts

With any of these you do not want to use a buffing wheel, hand polish only. The buffing wheel  seals the pores on the surface which prevents the bluing from getting a good bite. Hand sanding will leave them open. When we did guns we only went to a 230 grit finish for best durability. 

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Thanks to everyone for your responses.  It sounds like hot bluing would be the way to go, and at least some of those options would  not ruin the temper. For now that option will have to wait for me since I don't have the space to set it up right.  Thanks again though.

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Since my local gunsmith passed, my problem with the salts is that anywhere I can find them, will only sell me a 5 gal bucket :( when I only want a quart or less of salts  lol

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Steve...mix your own....if you need the proportions let me know,,,it;'s a two chem mix..

 

JPH

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Or just hit up your local gunsmith who does bluing. When we were doing a batch of firearms a knife would have been an easy addition for little cost since we were doing a group of items. We never fired up the tanks for one item. 

 

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