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Fourn6 03-31-2009 04:48 PM

Hobby Refinishing How-To Document
I've been doing small scale hobby refinishing of surplus arms for a number of years now, and finally put all of my notes into one large document. I am a chemist, and a firearm enthusiast, so this is my interest. The document covers the essential basics that I've been able to figure out on the subjects of rust bluing, caustic black, iron/zinc phosphate finishes, painting, anodizing small aluminum items, etc. The methods are all done using basic chemicals, not kits. I've included a number of photos to help the reader.

Consider it a introduction to a great hobby - hobbyist surplus firearm refinishing. If you have tips, or suggestions, pop me an email. I'd love to eventually build a "what-works-best" database of refinishes to arms, if only by manufacturer. That would save a lot of guess work and experimentation.

The link below will get you the PDF. I hope you enjoy and find it useful. It is free to read and share, but if you enjoy the document, or use it on a project and it works out great for you, consider the "contribute to the author" PayPal option. It will help me pay for the work I have done, and support more. :)

Dillinger 03-31-2009 04:52 PM

Welcome to the Forum - Your link doesn't work, which was one of the reasons your post was blocked. I have deleted it, but feel free to add a working link later on....


Fourn6 03-31-2009 06:33 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Thanks, I fixed the link. Here are some refinished Star BM examples:

iloveguns 03-31-2009 09:54 PM

I have a question. What would you recommend as the easiest and cheapest way to make this Champion look nice again?

Fourn6 03-31-2009 10:28 PM

Champion look nice again?
With that one, I'd consider a rust blue - which will take time, and some equipment, but have the nicest end result if it all goes well - a dark blue luster matt and durable finish. Note, you CAN do a good rust blue job with nothing more than an ounce of solution, q-tips, a few pans and a bag of steel wool. Gotta have lots of time, not mind getting a little dirty. The fancy wheel brushes from Brownells or the like make the job much easier.

Second choice would be a phosphate - it's much less work - strip it and dip it in acid. Need wheel brush to strip old finish, need stainless pan and the solution. If the metal is good, it will come out looking like a GI parkerized job. If the alloy doesn't appear to phosphate well or evenly color, you can paint over it with enamel paint, or a more premier coating product.

Caustic blue is not impossible, but it has hazards and the need for the most equipment. I'd also say its the most difficult one to do well - no spots, even color, etc. Hone your skills with the other two first.

JimGiven 04-07-2009 03:24 PM

Link still down. BTW, thx for sharing


Fourn6 04-07-2009 09:34 PM

It worked on my end, but try:

(its a long link, if you cut and paste use this without the {}


You also need a recent Adobe reader.

ChrisDM 04-11-2009 11:15 PM

Fourn, that's a great document, thank you. However I found it because I was seeking out info on how to polish a slide (specifically a New stainless Beretta 92FS I have on the way). Your document touches on it but doesn't really describe specifically (i.e. a "few grades of sandpaper" and "several levels of buffing compounds")... If the document were more specific to this process I would happily pay you for it. Thanks,

Fourn6 04-12-2009 01:51 PM


For now, read the Caswell document you can find here:

Introduction To Buffing and Polishing - Caswell Inc.

I'll update the document with your suggestions when I can. Might be awhile.

If I had to add anything;

Stacking 2 or 3 tightly wound wheels (or even felt wheels) can help keep a surface flat.

To limit damage to rollmarks, rotate the piece so you dont wear (dish) markings in one direction only. It's tempting to polish in one or two directions, but don't!

Do most 90% of the prep work with 400-600 grit paper - a good technique is to use spray adhesive to bond the fresh paper to a piece of glass for a flat surface. Use Aluminum Oxide paper - avoid cheap sandpaper that can leave tramp in the piece.

Clean the wheels between grades of polish, store them in a plastic bag so they dont pick up tramp particles between uses.

Use jewlers rouge as the final polish for a blinding polish.

You need a bench polisher of a reasonable size AND a dremel to get into the tight spaces and trigger guards.

The piece will get warm - that's actually needed to polish right. The polish doesn't work cold right. You might need tight fitting gloves.

You should wear a dust mask and your work area will become a total mess. My wife laughs at me on every polish job, because I end up looking like a coal miner. Very dirty business.

Underneath the polishing wheel, put an old pillow, or a cushion of some sort. You will at some point, lose your grasp of the piece, and it will fly down at a good velocity. You dont want it to hit concrete, or fly off into parts unknown.

kdog 04-13-2009 07:24 AM

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@ Fourn6,

what would you recomend to have my over 20 year old cz75 look sweet again?

It`s the painted version, and there are a few chippoffs.

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