A client wants us to supply a black metal foot rail for a bar we
recently installed. Is there a method of darkening steel or iron or ...
. tubing? Painting is one answer but she prefers a "maintenance free"
finish. However, as the bar is in a home most people will be in their
stocking feet so maybe some type of paint or other coating may work.
Any ideas? Thanks, JG
Get it that way from the factory. Mild steel bar is supplied in two
common forms; hot rolled and cold-drawn. Hot rolled is rolled to shape
and gains a thick layer of black oxide on it. Cold drawn is the same
stuff, then pulled through a die to scrape this oxide film off. Cold
has sharper corners than hot, which tends to be a bit rounded.
The oxide film on hot-rolled bar is about the toughest and most
hard-wearing black patina you can put onto steel.
A tub of black patina wax (Liberon) will touch up any welds or grinding
marks that have come out shiny.
Cats have nine lives, which is why they rarely post to Usenet.
The only problem with that is that the oxide that is built up on a hot
rolled bar tends to be very scaly, and the hot rolled steel usually
comes off the truck rusty. It's a whole lot nicer looking if you get
cold-rolled steel, and then have a shop put an oxide coating on it.
Andy's suggestion is one way to go, although the hot roll oxide will be more
light blue than black. Might not be the look they are looking for. An
alternative is to take your tubing and fittings to a shop that does "black
oxide". The process is similar to gun blueing, which can be blue or black
depending on the process and salts used. Look at the finish on a typical
allen head screw to get an idea of what it will look like.
This is the local company I use:
Just look for a similar vendor near you.
The robot I just finished helping build is 28"x38"x5' tall, welded
aluminum, and the powdercoat shop offered to just put the whole thing
in the oven, with room to spare. Supposedly the shop can do entire
driveway entrance gates 6-8' on a side.
A client of mine made a foot rail out of railroad track. The thing was
elevated from the floor by blocks and old style spikes were cut and let
in to pre-drilled holes.
Look spiffy and cool, albeit a bit hefty.
Whenever I want some metal painted with a durable finish, I take it to a
local car body shop and get them to include the piece in another run that is
using a similar colour. Since they're using that colour on an existing
order, they don't have to do a special setup and I save money.
Black oxide or powder coat are both pretty tough. Neither of them are
really do-it-yourself projects (Black oxide requires vats of toxic
chemicals with a heat source under a couple of them, and powder
coating requires a gun that will ionize the powder, and an oven that
is big enough to fit the piece in) If you look around a bit, there
are usually at least one or two shops devoted to this kind of work in
any given town, and I can't imagine it's too awfully expensive for one
piece. Black oxide looks the best, IMO.
If you decide to go the paint route, we use tractor enamel to repaint
steelworking machinery in the shop, and that holds up really well
also- and you can touch it up if it gets damaged. With powder coat,
you'd have to sandblast the entire thing to refinish it properly.
There is an epoxy gun coating called Alumahyde (II, I think) which you can
spray onto a part which is warmed by a heat gun (or left in the sun) and
cures best with heat in the 100 degree range. Heck, on a sunny day witha
cheaply built solar oven made from a box sprayed black inside with a
polyethelyene sheeting window.
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