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Linseed Oil Application (basic)


LA9436

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A quick question,

Are there any basic tips or tricks to applying linseed oil to hot metal?
I am trying to apply the oil to a piece of 40mm x 3mm x 500mm bar stock (1.5'' x 1.1'' x 19.6'') but I can't get an even coverage. Some parts of the bar stock will be very black, and other parts look like they barely have any oil on them. Here are the steps I take;

1. I heat the metal as evenly as I can.
2. I move the metal onto my anvil
3. I soak some linseed oil into a rag and then gauge the heat of the metal by seeing if the oil evaporates when applied.
4. As soon as the metal is cool enough to not evaporate the oil, I quickly wipe the metal with lots of oil.

Am I doing something wrong? And a side question, would it be more practical to use a spray bottle instead of a rag?

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It important to keep the piece as uniformly hot as possible, so setting it on the anvil or uneven application of cool oil causes problems with color uniformity.  If the piece is too big to dunk in oil, I prefer to spray the oil.  I get a much more even looking result that way.  I use a "Sure Shot" sprayer.  Its refillable and holds about a quart of oil.  Various spray tips are available. 

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Ditto not laying it on the anvil to oil! Hold it with tongs at least though a wire cooling rack works well. Depends on the piece as to "best: application method. Dipping works very well if you have the container to submerge it all at once. I use a paint brush on some projects but spray works for most everything. 

A word of caution about spraying an oil mist in a room with a forge burning. It can be an extreme fire hazard! You need to give thought to where the mist will go and how to control it. 

Frosty The Lucky

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Thank you for the replies.

Thank you gm for making my aware of the sure shot. This looks very convenient and I will likely purchase one regardless.

Dipping sounds like it is the preferred method. Does this method have to be timed right, or can the metal be dipped even if the oil will evaporate upon contact?

What bristle material would you recommend Frosty? I would also like to try this method.

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Non synthetic brush! Bristle seems to the be the common term for organic though I recommend against HAIR BRISTLE!:wacko: (we really need a few more emojies like a bad smell one that isn't a pile of poop) 

You don't need to worry about oil smoke or a flash over burst of flame if you submerge it completely quickly. When I was doing a lot of coat hooks at demos I made a wire bottom with handles that stick up above the oil level in a gallon paint can. That way I could jut drop the hooks in the oil, leave them until I had a moment or delivered to a "commissioner" and I pulled the wire "basket" out by the handles. 

Normally I don't finish with BLO but there are times it's requested so I went prepared. I checked for temp with a wood splinter about wood match size, I lay it against the part and depending on how quickly it browned or charred indicated the temp well enough to get the color finish I was looking for. Don't ask me how fast, it's been years and I'd be guessing. Experimenting is easy.

My preferred finish is the "bees wax, Neatsfoot oil, turpentine and lamp black (soot)" recipe found in Bealer's "Art of Blacksmithing." He calls for BLO but said almost any polymerizing oil works fine. I didn't have beeswax for the first batch and used paraffin instead and it's held up outside nicely since the mid 90s. My latest batch doesn't contain soot, it was a major PITA to make and collect and without looked well. Oddly enough a few years ago I was shopping at an art supply for colored modeling clay and discovered two shelves of graphite powder and in different colors. If you actually want to add Mr. Bealer's "Lamp Black," the graphite is the same basic thing and so MUCH easier to acquire.

Frosty The Lucky

 

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Frosty,  to pick a nit, carbon black ("lamp black") and graphite are not the same thing although they may both work fine as a colorant for a steel finish.  Graphite is a naturally occuring crystalline substance which forms small "platy" bits which is why it is used as a lubricant.  Carbon black is basically soot formed by the incomplete burning of oil, natural gas, or coal.  It is most commonly used as a colorant in things like tires and is available via the internet.

There is a small town in NE Wyoming named "Alladin" which was founded by the Alladin brand of stove black in the late 19th century.  They were burning natural gas to produce soot for the product to blacken coal stoves.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Where I grew up in W TX, back in the 40's, maybe as late as the 50's, there was a huge carbon black plant near a highway.  As I understand it, the plant used natural gas from the surrounding oil and gas fields.  I can recall the humongous black clouds of smoke coming from the ovens, completely obliterating the sunlight at times, looking like night time.  When the black smoke clouds blew across the highway, it was a real safety issue since you couldn't see the cars ahead of you.  Everyone had to turn their headlights on.  Talk about pollution!!!!!  All the plant life, mesquite trees/bushes, greasewood bushes, grasses, etc. around the carbon black plant had a thick coating of carbon black...looked surreal, like something out of a sci-fi movie.  I don't know if any of it was still living or not; probably not, just preserved.  We always held our breath as long as possible, with the windows rolled up, when driving through the cloud.  The plant has long since been gone, thank goodness.

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I wonder if black toner powder would work.  It is VERY fine and VERY black.  I wouldn't be surprised.  However, I am not sure of what it is chemically and if it might react with linseed oil.  If you had a borked toner cartridge that still had some toner powder in it it might be worth an experiment.

GNM

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Your problem not getting an even heat is a common problem solved by experience.  

I use a rag, and start applying the finish when the black heat is too hot. It smokes off and remains grey. When it is the correct temp, it isn't glossy(too cool), nor grey(too hot). Go as far down your bar as you can until its too cool. Then take another heat beyond your finish and let the heat travel back to the finished part. Keep applying your finish as above while the heat travels twards you until you run out of heat. Then repeat until you are done. This is the best way I know to learn how to apply your finish. 

Also, I use a 50/50 blo/ turps with beeswax melted into the mix. I put a quart of both into an old paint can with the lid handy with about a walnut to an egg size of beeswax on the top of my coal fire. heat gently until the beeswax melts. If it flashes, I remove the can with my poker via the paint can bale and put on the lid. The proportions really don't matter. I prefer a liquid. It flows better under collars and into the mortise if you are using tenons. On handled iron such as fire tools and door/cabinet hardware, the beeswax picks up your body temp and creates the effect that the iron is warm, not cold. 

When cool, I usually clean it with denatured alcohol to remove the grime and apply a coat of a carnuba based furniture or auto polish. If you rub it a bit when do these final steps it will bring out the highlights in the steel for an added touch.

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