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I've got a batch of hooks in vinegar right now awaiting final finishing. I'm using regular white vinegar (5%) from the grocery store, as my local hardware store was out of the stronger horticultural vinegar (strength varies by manufacturer, from about 10% up to 45%). Remember that anything over 15% acidity can be pretty nasty, and you do NOT want to get it on your skin or in your eyes.

The alas-now-taken-down YouTube video of the old German chainmaker showed him finishing up the chains by tumbling them in a large rotating drum. Good thing it was a silent film; I don't even want to think about the noise that would have made.

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I have a pair of rubber gloves just for acidic situations. I know first hand how crappy chemical burns are. Dad whos a semi driver used to work for a company that scrapped batteries. Like industrial size forklift batteries and such. They would let him take what copper was left from wiring and such. After my first brush with that on my skin, you can bet I wore the proper PPE after that. Many a pair of jeans met their end in those containers though.

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Pulled out the first batch last night. I am really surprised at how well it worked. The scale came off almost like a powder.

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On 4/29/2021 at 12:11 PM, SinDoc said:

Many a pair of jeans met their end in those containers though.

Taking "acid wash jeans" to an extreme, I see.

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It was kind of neat. I would notice that I brushed up against one of the batteries then within an hour or two my jeans would quite literally just start falling apart. That acid means business!

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Well, it has been soaking in 5% vinegar for nearly a week now. When I get home I want to check and see how they look. If the outcome isn't quite what I expected, I found 30% at the local hardware store I can try soaking them in.

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Usually it has a black and slimey coating and I have to scrub it off with a scrub brush under running water to show the raw metal underneath.  I've never had to go beyond regular household vinegar in my 40 years smithing so far.  If so I'd probably go for electrolysis next over stronger acids.

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That is what was on it when I looked the other night and thought it wasn't done and put it back. I will have to take it in and try scrubbing it then. The less grinding/dremel work I have to do to get that nice shiny silver finish the better lol. 

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I've also done the scrubbing with a wire brush in a large bucket of water with a touch of baking soda in it.  Running water is better for removing the crud as you go along and showing you where you need to scrub harder; however last time I used the kitchen sink my wife of 36+ years gave me the shovel talk...

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Luckily I have a nice big utility sink in the back so I don't have the misses threatening to bury me out behind the shed. I typically have a bucket of slightly soapy water in the shop for cleaning tools, cooling things while grinding and of course just in case something decides to burn that shouldn't be burning.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Over the vacation last week I did managed to revisit this one. The vinegar worked perfectly. I rinsed the hooks off in the water bucket and after a little wiping with a rag then quick hit with the Dremel with a polishing wheel, they turned a nice shiny silver. From the time I took it out of the vinegar bath to it being very well polished was maybe 5-8 minutes. The heat coloring really pops with them being so nice and clean.

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Even tho it went back in the fire, it wouldnt hurt to neutralize it with baking soda. Altho, sometimes its kinda fun to let a rust patina develop, then neutralize.

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Allowing a rust patina develop, then neutralize and burnish before finishing is a nice way to "age" a piece.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Certainly better than digging them out of the manure pile.

Isn't a drainage ditch patina what hung over cowboys had to wash off the morning after pay day? 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Christopher Thomson does his rust finish as follows: (from his website) "we accomplish this authentic rust finish by first sandblasting the ironworks and then putting them out in our rust yard. We spray them with salt water and let moisture in the air rust the steel. It depends on the weather as to how long it takes to achieve this authentic finish but a couple of months is a regular amount of time for the process to take place. If we have to speed it up, we spray alternately with salt water and water a few times a day for weeks. Once the patina is achieved, a dry green scrubby removes the loose rust before painting on our non-toxic orange oil finish. This arrests the rust process and provides a lustrous result after the excess orange oil is wiped off."

He had an impressive "rust yard"  last time I visited!

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Rust yard eh, does his wife buy that? I don't think I can sell Deb on the name, she just thinks it's junk to be kept out of sight.

Salt and hydrogen peroxide applied and kept damp is another proven method. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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He's got enough acres and what was once the largest blacksmith shop west of the Mississippi, IIRC. I don't think having a rust yard impacts much.  I remember camping in the "bone yard" with the 2000# Chambersburg as a neighbor, also 1000# Chambersburg, also, ....  He's truly an Artist Blacksmith.

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I want to try using a power hammer. I need to go to one of Adlai's open shops and see if I can convince him to give me a crash course on it lol.

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I keep telling Lisa I should get a power hammer; she keeps insisting the neighbors would complain.

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Both my neighbors work on cars all the time, so my little bit of tinking is probably the quietest thing in our neighborhood lol.

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