Good rust vs bad rust

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by SwedeFP, Nov 25, 2020.

  1. SwedeFP

    SwedeFP

    55
    Oct 17, 2020
    Hello All and Happy Thanksgiving,
    I'm working on an old Kelly axe head which has a nice patina that I'm trying to preserve, but still clean the steel up a bit to highlight the phantom bevels. The old patina is a mixture of dark brown and black deposits. I'm using a brass cup type wheel but instead of running the risk of swirl marks, I'm spraying wd 40 and scrubbing with it by hand and using some scotch brite pads. I can scrub some areas and get a rust red deposit worked up, so real rust removal. After working some of this off there are also some black deposits that don't look so bad. These are also just in separate places on the face. Doing some reading, I found info about a black type of rust or deposit that may actually be protective. One article had a process to use tannic acid to cause a chemical reaction with the steel that produces a black coating that helps protect the steel. Ive tried a black tea soak with a dark gray result.
    See below:
    Does anyone have thoughts on the differences in types of rust and maybe which one to leave alone? Thanks SwedeFP

    https://www.canada.ca/en/conservati...-notes/tannic-acid-rusted-iron-artifacts.html
     
  2. jake pogg

    jake pogg

    Dec 20, 2015
  3. SwedeFP

    SwedeFP

    55
    Oct 17, 2020
    Thanks Jake that is an interesting article and confirms some of what I was thinking.
    SwedeFP
     
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  4. SwedeFP

    SwedeFP

    55
    Oct 17, 2020
    Think I'm leaning toward Birchwood bluing at this point. That should work to darken the axe after removing more rust and provide some protection. There are some really nice axe pictures on the forum of blued results. Once this is hafted and in use, I'll wax it with a bees wax concoction.
     
  5. jake pogg

    jake pogg

    Dec 20, 2015
    Yes,you're on the right track with your thinking.

    Oxides are Inevitable,"Nature abhors clean shiny metal":)

    Some form of stable,non-proliferating oxide is the best finish.

    I wish i wasn't such a space cadet and have derived more out of all the endless discussions that i've ever held with other metalworkers on the subject...The Japanese(of course)were aknowledged masters in patinating,and i've seen some examples of conversion of red to black Fe oxides done with some of their traditional techniques...Very impressive,VERY black,some of them were.
    (i want to say that such products as "Ospho",i.e. phosphoric acid-based goop that can do that).

    Long,long ago a gunsmith friend who tried training me in keeping my firearms decent has lost patience with me and said that the right finish for the beasts like me would be "browning"
    (like Brown Bess et c.,a very traditional and practical finish in the past).

    I've looked into that a bit,and it was definitely cool-looking,(and i'm sure very practical).
    Vs converting to Black it involves cultivating some stable form of Red oxide,then using it as matrix to hold an oil finish...Pretty looking stuff...
    But yes,some type of off-the-shelf chemical patination like Brownell's is probably the ticket.
     
  6. I'mSoSharp

    I'mSoSharp

    809
    Mar 8, 2011
    From what you describe probably a light wire wheel brush would serve you best, go slow & you can remove very little or everything & anything in between depending on your taste. Brass brushes used aggressively enough will actually deposit brass onto steel.
    As a rough guide any rust that comes off relatively easily is bad, anything that's really stubborn to remove probably won't do too much further damage as long as it's oiled or waxed or cut of from the atmosphere some other way.
    As has already been said, gun blue can look good if that's the look you're after.
     
  7. Brent Halverson

    Brent Halverson

    31
    Nov 16, 2020
    An axe that is actually used and cared for will have no rust on it. Use wears all rust away, and craftsmen that bought tools new and cared for them did not let them get rusty. If you are worried about cultivating rust that is fashionable and trendy though, definitely take your axe to the nearest shopping mall and ask those teenage school-girls that buy ripped jeans, or rip and fade nice new jeans to cultivate the look of a lifestyle they never had or will have, as they are probably the current experts on what anything trendy or fashionable would be.
     
    neo71665 likes this.
  8. SwedeFP

    SwedeFP

    55
    Oct 17, 2020
    I'm not really sure where you are coming from on the last sentences. I agree with your point about use, and practice that. Maybe if you read my post more carefully, you'd notice this is an old Kelly axe head that I am cleaning up. If you wondered why I was doing this, you could have asked instead of jumping to some highhanded conclusion that maybe suits some need you may have for ridicule. FYI and since you didn't ask, I plan to haft this for use. It was bought to be a user like every axe I own. It is in the shape it is for I'd think lack of use. It makes better sense to me to make the head stable before going any further. If I need any advice on shopping malls, teenage girls and all that other crap you wrote, you'll be the first person I'll think of to ask. Have a good evening.
    SwedeFP
     
  9. EngrSorenson

    EngrSorenson Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    Brent seems pretty bitter in general, don’t let it trouble you. Both posts I’ve seen usually contain some information up front and lapse quickly into an off-track, inappropriate dump on something.

    in my experience, I only worry about the Orange/red rust. The other kinds don’t exhibit the penetration/corrosion that red rust does, and inhibit further growth.

    good luck on your re-haft!
     
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  10. Old Axeman

    Old Axeman Basic Member Basic Member

    899
    Jan 10, 2015
    My question is---What is a 83 year old man, with a interest in axes, doing hanging out at the mall watching teenage girls with holes in their jeans? WHOA!
     
  11. SwedeFP

    SwedeFP

    55
    Oct 17, 2020
    EngrSorenson,
    Thanks, I'm getting the haft ready and waiting for the point of saturation on the raw linseed oil by applying daily or more. Really like the look of the wood after this treatment. I'll keep working on getting that type of rust removed.
    Old Axeman,
    WHOA, indeed! I'm 23 years younger and try to never step foot in mall-much less scrutinizing teenage girls with torn jeans. I'd rather be working outside, or like now, hanging out on the back porch watching some college fooball at sundown, reading about axes, and smoking a cigar...
    SwedeFP
     
  12. RIP Dequincy Jynxie

    RIP Dequincy Jynxie Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    673
    Jun 10, 2020
    people watching at malls...

    the final frontier :rolleyes:

    I couldn't access the link you posted. was it anything in particular good?

    enjoying this thread, as I have also been thinking about this issue
     
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  13. Meek1

    Meek1

    419
    Aug 11, 2019
    I love rust, rust is awesome! LOL. A light wire wheel and then oil the heck out of it. That usually gets me pretty close to bring out the patina. I have dabbled with the cold blue from time to time. But you can't replicate that beautiful natural patina hiding under that rust. Best of luck to you!!
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  14. SwedeFP

    SwedeFP

    55
    Oct 17, 2020
    [QUOTE="Hijo de Luna, post: 20166754, member:



    I couldn't access the link you posted. was it anything in particular good?

    enjoying this thread, as I have also been thinking about this issue[/QUOTE]
    I just tried the link and it opened up. It was about using tannic acid to stabilize rusted artifacts for preservation. I doubt I'd go to that extent by getting tannic acid. But, I have tried the black tea soak method and it was ok but not dark enough.
    SwedeFP
     
  15. SwedeFP

    SwedeFP

    55
    Oct 17, 2020
    Meek1 that axe looks awesome. Don't know what it is, but that cleaned up pitting with patina and clean smooth sharpened bits just look mean and bad. Reminds me of a very worn but rehabilitated Kelly Perfect DB that Buckin Billy Ray Smith put on his YouTube channel not long ago-it was nicknamed Barbarian, and he did some awesome splitting with that axe. Just another testimony of how good of steel these vintage axes were made with.
    SwedeFP
     
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  16. rwdenney

    rwdenney

    41
    Nov 20, 2020
    I know that this has come up in discussions of one or two tomahawk products, but it's a kit available to just regular people, too. Has anyone tried Caswell's black oxide gel product? It's intended for spot application, but the 4-ounce gel kit would do a couple of whole axe heads (and lots of touch ups for where we ground off poll mushrooming, etc.).

    https://caswellplating.com/black-oxide-gel-kit.html

    They are a well-known supplier for brass music instrument repair guys, so I'm considering ordering this kit just to try it. It might be just the ticket for the OP's project.

    It will not provide as "interesting" a patina as will age, of course.

    Rick "they also have gallon (and up) liquid kits for immersion treatment--more expensive, however" Denney
     
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  17. SwedeFP

    SwedeFP

    55
    Oct 17, 2020
    Great option and I looked into this, and haven't decided on it or Brownells Oxpho. Got some Ospho on sale at Ace Hardware for half off, and may try it on spots first. Before I go to the axe, I'm gonna test on some old metal pots, etc. The Caswells has some decent reviews, and I'm thinking you can get a smooth shiny sealer or a more traditional sealer.
     
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  18. upnorth

    upnorth Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    I am no authority on this stuff. All I have is my own hands on experience gleaned from tips by fellow metal detecting buffs. I have found many modern axe heads. Modern to me is 1900 to now, buried and dug up while metal detecting. I have used electrolysis on them to remove rust, or just left them in a pail, soaking fully submerged in cider vinegar. Check the head every few days until it's where you want it. Either way I wash off under a warm tap and scrub it up with a brass wire brush. In the case of my fur trade belt axe from the 1700's, along with a lot of other fur trade iron, I go further. I "bake" the iron on low, 200 or so, in my kitchen oven for several hours to ensure that the piece is bone dry. Then when cool enough to handle, I slather it with Conservators wax, as used in museums. It seems to suck right into the iron. Any more than two seperate coats can result in a waxy haze, try to stick with one saturated coat applied on warm iron. The wax comes in a smaller silver cylindrical tin. At least the stuff I used does. This seals and stabilizes my fur trade iron artefacts. The hundred year old user heads, do with what you want. Paint, oil, whatever. Just use them. They are likely light years better than the China junk.
     
  19. RIP Dequincy Jynxie

    RIP Dequincy Jynxie Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    673
    Jun 10, 2020
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  20. navasky

    navasky

    46
    Dec 7, 2009
    Once you get the majority of the flakey rust off you can convert the red oxide that's left to black oxide by boiling it for 10 minutes. Cold blue products won't protect against oxidation like true black oxide does.
     
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