Menushopping cart
Tools for Working Wood
Invest in your craft. Invest in yourself.

BEN The Build-It Blog

Rust Removal - The War That Never Ends - Part 2

09/19/2019 by Yoav Liberman

Applying gun blue on the long 12” square

Once the rust was removed (see part one of the story) I rinsed the steel with clean water and was ready to coat the bare metal with a protective layer of gun blue. Gun blue is a bluish solution that once in contact with steel it turns the surface blue-black. It is a very common surface treatment for tools, firearms, and hardware pieces. I like to use it quite a lot, as on top of the protective aspect of the coating it also bestow the object with a distinct and attractive visual effect. Gun blue aficionados might have a very strict protocol for applying the material, a specific surface preparation regime, and a higher number of applied coats (I used only two), plus they might choose and a different type of top coat then mine - I used wax. Here is the technique I use and which proved effective over the years.

  • Clean the bare steel from any rust, grim and oil residues.

  • Dip a cotton pad (for large surfaces) or cotton q-tips for small surfaces in the gun blue solutions and spread the fluid on the steel. The steel will immediately turn blue black.

  • Repeat applying the gun blue and wet the pad in fresh solution as needed.

  • After all the surfaces had been covered, rinse them with water and scrub lightly with a cotton rag. Then apply a second coat of gun blue.

  • Rinse for the last time and dry the surfaces using a paper towel or a hairdryer.

  • Now apply a coat of paste wax. My wax of choice is Renaissance wax.

Watch the videos below to see how I apply the gun bluing and the protective wax.

Final rinsing and wax application on the sliding bevel and the 8” square

Wax application on the 12” square

Below are some pictures of the restored squares and the sliding bevel. I am very happy with the outcome and I hope that it will encourage all of you to spend some time bringing your rusted tools back to pristine condition. With a few tools, some supplies and a minimal amount of effort we can free our tools from the blight of rust and give them back their dignity.

The three restored tools
The three restored tools

Rusted 12” square. “The 12” Square before
Rusted 12” square. “The 12” Square before

Restored 12” square. “The 12” Square after
Restored 12” square. “The 12” Square after

By the way, pardon my chickens (as heard in so many of my videos). This “sound track” was unintended, it was just that my videography coincided with their mid-morning egg laying routine.
Join the conversation
09/19/2019 Frank
Very good article, Yoav. And very informative for woodworkers who have never used gun bluing in the past.
I first used bluing years ago on a project that had 10 small doors - each a different size. To help keep them in harmony, I used bluing on the hinges, which wrre the least expensive I could find. Soaked 'em in vinegar to remove the coating, blued 'em, then sprayed 'em with matte urethane.
Twenty years later, they're still looking good, Billy Ray.
Thanks for a great article.
09/19/2019 Yoav
Hi Frank,
Thanks for your kind words. I also hope that other woodpeckers will try Gun blue and not just as a rust repellent but also as a beautiful metal patina-making finish.

Comments are closed.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.