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Gun blue and bleach etch?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by BenR.T., Oct 22, 2011.

  1. BenR.T.

    BenR.T. Tanto grinder & High performance blade peddler Moderator

    Apr 18, 2011
    I have a project coming up that I would like to try the blue, bleach etching on. I was curious what techniques work for you - how do you heat your bleach, what kind of container do you use , time in bleach, how you apply the blue? I know several makers on here use this method, and the results look great, any help would be much appreciated!

  2. Robert Dark

    Robert Dark

    Aug 27, 2004

    Try this (on a test piece first): Make sure the piece is as scratch free as possible and very, very clean.

    I use one of those wool daubers that you can get from Tandy. Just randomly daub the cold blue on until the blade is covered. This will cause the blue to be thicker in places.

    I use a plastic tub with enough Clorox in it to cover the blade. When the gun blue has dried, put it into the tub. Leave it around 30 seconds. The blade will instantly start to turn to rust and you will think you have ruined it. Pull it out and use a piece of #0000 steel wool and water to clean the rust off.

    If you like the look, then oil it well. If not, go back to the blue and Clorox.

    Here is a (not-so-good) pic of one I did a couple of years ago:

  3. Kentucky

    Kentucky KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Basic Member

    Dec 13, 2008
    We use this method all the time to get that real aged patina on hawk/axe heads...The longer the etch the more drastic the appearance.. We sand to around 120-220 grit, clean the piece real well with degreaser then coat with cold bue...Then submerge in bleach...We leave ours in for 30min-1hour so any scratch marks from 120 grit and up are etched off and gone anyway.Clean up with a wire wheel..Though rememeber these are axe heads not knives..That long would be too drastic on thinner knives..
    heres a couple of axes with a 1 hour etch..
  4. Raymond Richard

    Raymond Richard

    Jun 17, 2001
    Here's a blade I just finished up using pretty much the same method Robert mentioned except it was done in room temp Clorox. Hotter is certainly more aggressive. I'll go over the whole blade with steel wool for the first clean up and I may also do an etch while I'm at it. Different steels act different way so best to try a test piece. This blade is L-6.

  5. BenR.T.

    BenR.T. Tanto grinder & High performance blade peddler Moderator

    Apr 18, 2011
    Those all look great guys, antiqued is the look I am going for.
    The steel I am using is L6, I would like to leave the forge scale on the blade flats, will the bleach eat that away as well?
    By the way Ray that knife is beautiful, I think that pumpkin is shaking in its boots!
  6. Railrider1920


    Dec 14, 2010
  7. Raymond Richard

    Raymond Richard

    Jun 17, 2001
    I think your forge scale should stay cause the gun blue needs to be working on the steel for the bleach to effect it. Like I said earlier its best to do a test on scrap steel.

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