1/17/2007 -- Wax finishes
Blacksmith History, Part 1
Blacksmith History--Part 2
Blacksmith History--Part 3
Blacksmith in the Oil Patch
Blacksmiths in Africa
Antebellum Iron Works
Lewis & Clark's Blacksmiths
Advice for Beginners
Boy Scout Program
Techniques / Projects
Iron and Steel
Forging Non-Ferrous Metals
All About Nails
1982 ABANA Conference
& DUSTY, the Appalachian Power Hammers
Organized in 1978, the
Appalachian Blacksmiths Association is an affiliate of ABANA. We represent blacksmiths,
bladesmiths, and farriers in West Virginia and its surrounding states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky.
We publish a quarterly newsletter which keeps our membership up to date on events. The newsletter also features many metalworking tips.
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finishes leave a deep, lustrous glow to ironwork. They can be used
for exterior and interior work. Generally, smiths blend equal parts
of paste wax, linseed oil, and turpentine. A smaller volume of
bees wax is then added. Japan Drier is available at art supply
stores and it speeds drying time but is not necessary to harden the
smiths prefer raw linseed oil to the boiled kind because it doesn't have
drying chemicals in it. Some smiths mix bees wax with linseed oil
and then use paste wax in the final buffing.
can be used by itself. In fact, European smiths used it for
centuries by simply melting the wax onto the workpiece while it was still
warm. Unlike other waxes, bees wax is non-toxic and, therefore,
can be used on cutlery and utensils.
all candles are made with paraffin. Do not confuse this wax with
bees wax. Buy bees wax at a hardware store or from a beekeeper and
interior use, wax finishes hold up a long time and will only need an
occasional buffing. Depending on humidity and precipitation,
outdoor ironwork will need to be inspected at least annually.
Rusty areas can be buffed clean with steel wool and then re-waxed.
best results, ironwork should be warm (can hold in your hand) when
applying the wax finish.
See these articles for
Oil (Raw or Boiled)
Oil and boiled Linseed Oil will dry and harden. Check the can and
the label should indicate that driers have been added. They are
toxic to the taste and should not be used on any ironwork that will be
used with food or drink. Both are very durable. Tung oil is
the better of the two if you will also be finishing wood. Tung oil
allows the photoreactivity of the wood with sunlight. Linseed oil
tends to darken wood over time.
cutlery, utensils, and food wares, you will need to use vegetable or
mineral oil. Keep in mind that vegetable oils will turn
rancid. Thus, if you finish a knife and don't use it for a while,
you will want to clean it well before using it. Mineral oil (a
petroleum product) won't go rancid. Use only a very light coat of
oil on your food wares.
point about oily rags: they will spontaneously combust so dispose
of them properly after finishing your work.
an alchemist! Turn iron into brass!
simple trick is accomplished by using a brass bristle brush on iron at
'black heat'. The brass melts and transfers, making the iron have a nice
brass finish. If the iron is too cool, the brass won't melt.
And if too hot, you will wipe the layer of brass off with each
swipe. Practice makes perfect. Be sure to "Brass"
your workpiece before applying the preserving finish.
Terra cotta patina
by Triple-S Chemicals
olden times, the patina was the natural oxidation that served to
highlight the workpiece. Wrought iron actually oxidized (rusted)
to a nice deep brown patina and then stopped because natural silicates
in the iron preserved the metal. Natural patinas often added value
to the work.
the modern world, patinas are chemically induced. Our Suppliers
web page lists several companies that manufacture patinas. This
method of creating patinas allows the smith to have great control over
the colors and tones in his/her work. Just follow the
manufacturers directions closely.
good blacksmith makes sure his work has a consistent, smoky black
color. That's why a wax finish highlights the workpiece so
well. For all others, there is flat black spray paint.
has its place. When colors are required, such as with avant
garde artwork, paint is the only way to accomplish this.
big drawback with painted metal in exterior work is trying to rustproof
the iron so that it does not rust under the paint layer. Zinc
powders are often used in primers but they do reduce the detail because
of the thickness of the primer coat. And sometimes, extensive
sandblasting is needed to clean the ironwork--a procedure that also has
you need to paint your ironwork, discuss the job with paint stores and
painters to find the best product line.
lacquer and polyurethane are often used on projects such as interior
railings and banisters. The ironwork needs to have a consistent
look to it because clear finishes will not hide any defects.
"Clear coats" will prevent oxidation caused by people handling
or touching the work. And they will feel better to the hand than
does a painted surface.
products, such as Gilders Paste, are being developed to meet the
market for coloring and finishing ironwork.
there are also common old methods that are still popular.
Soaking your ironwork overnight in a bucket of tea will leave a gray
steel patina on the workpiece surface which can then be finished with
wax, oil, or clear coat.