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JoshuaK

The age old finishing question

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Hey guys,

So I've been asked to do this sculptural piece for a wooded walking area of a local hospice. They like the designs and everything, but we're hitting a bit of a snag in deciding on a finishing technique. I haven't done a whole lot of outdoor pieces, and when I have, the customers either liked the curated rust patina, or a simple utilitarian paint job. In this case, the customer wants something that looks natural, so they're not interested in powder coating, and they're adamantly against any form of painting, for whatever reason, and they just don't like a rust patina. So here I am wondering where that leaves me. I figure I can offer the wirebrush forged finish with clear coat and a promise that they'll need frequent maintenance, and really, that might be something they would somewhat reluctantly accept. They'll have someone keeping the grounds anyway. But as I have never tried this, I really don't know how much maintenance it will really be. I'm located in Ottawa, Ontario. So we're nowhere near the ocean, but it tends to be humid as hell all summer.

Another option which I'm almost beginning to take seriously is offering it in stainless steel. I have never forged stainless steel, so I imagine there would be a learning curve, and I have also never welded stainless, so we'd really be in uncharted territory, but it might be nice to have that as a tool in my toolbox for future projects. I'm just starting out in business, so I am willing to go through some short-term pains for long term gain. I imagine I'd need to ask for a pretty serious price bump for stainless, but I don't know how much. Like 30% more at least?

One other thing that occurred to me was some kind of hot zinc spray. I often see that listed as a finish in the Anvil's Ring, but I haven't been too successful in looking it up. From the sounds of it, people often use this as a base-coat before paint? Well, it always looks good in the magazine anyway, and I suspect I could sell my client on something they already think they don't want if I've got nice examples to show.

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Whoops, I meant to post this in the problem solving forum. I guess it's still relevant here though.

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As to cost difference between steel and stainless... I was buying 1.25" sch 40 pipe for handrails in 20' lengths for $20. Anheuser Busch then wanted them out of stainless so they didn't have to paint them. 1.25" sch40 stainless pipe was $6.50 per foot $130 for a 20'. Unless you can buy it at scrap price it will be very expensive - depending on how big this piece is. Welding stainless is not hard with a TIG, just takes some practice.

For steel you could do selective platings to get different colors. Things like gun blues and Parkerizing will eventually rust in time.

Different mixed materials will also get different colors. Say steel for the cat tails so as they rust they will form the natural brown color. Maybe copper for the leaves and do a green patina. Same with the duck- depending on the breed. The ring in back could be stainless. Anodized aluminum pieces are an option, but they will eventually fade in the sun. But then again, you don't get the harsh summer sun like we get here in the desert.

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on the other hand if you can sell them on the lack of maintenance; the materials cost is negligible.

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18 hours ago, BIGGUNDOCTOR said:

As to cost difference between steel and stainless... I was buying 1.25" sch 40 pipe for handrails in 20' lengths for $20. Anheuser Busch then wanted them out of stainless so they didn't have to paint them. 1.25" sch40 stainless pipe was $6.50 per foot $130 for a 20'. Unless you can buy it at scrap price it will be very expensive - depending on how big this piece is. Welding stainless is not hard with a TIG, just takes some practice.

For steel you could do selective platings to get different colors. Things like gun blues and Parkerizing will eventually rust in time.

Different mixed materials will also get different colors. Say steel for the cat tails so as they rust they will form the natural brown color. Maybe copper for the leaves and do a green patina. Same with the duck- depending on the breed. The ring in back could be stainless. Anodized aluminum pieces are an option, but they will eventually fade in the sun. But then again, you don't get the harsh summer sun like we get here in the desert.

Yeah, I would probably need to get myself a quote on stainless before getting too ahead of myself there, eh? I was also thinking about how people say it takes significantly more energy to work, so I'd also have to account for that.

 

What sort of plating options do I have?

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Thick gold plate is very weather resistant.  Hot dipped galvanized is one of the cheaper plating  options, chrome, ...options are wide open generally based on $$$$

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That could be something to look into. I found a local place that does bronze plating, possibly other types of plating. Customer does not want to spend more though, so for now I'm just going to stop bringing up the issue with them.

 

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How about heating it up and brushing/spraying with melted beeswax?

Wouldn't that give it a smooth black finish? Or maybe "Renaissance wax."

Just thinking out loud . . .

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Wax finishes aren’t particularly durable enough for outdoor applications. 

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Not bees nor ren wax but carnuba can last an awful long time outdoors. I have pieces that has been hanging more than 15 years without rust. The wear surfaces on the hangers aren't bleeding rust and it gets plenty windy. "Trewax," carnuba paste wax is the particular brand, "Bowling Alley Wax" is another common carnuba paste wax. You know, the wax they  have to sand the bowling alley lanes to remove?

Applied to fresh coffee warm pieces with excess wiped off leaves a thin HARD finish. Thicker is NOT better, it's brittle and can chip if there are runs, drips, etc.

Nothing is forever and different places have different conditions.

Frosty The Lucky. 

 

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