Patinating Stainless Steel

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Yes, that's a real word. Over the years I have acquired a number of knives with blades that are correct, some with minor reshaping, for different periods from the Revolution to post Civil War but they have 2 issues. First is the handles, pommels and guards in many cases. This isn't really too difficult to correct but the real issue is that almost all are stainless which has discouraged me from doing anything with them. I'm wondering what any of you have done to kill the shine or give stainless an aged or used look. Other than putting them in a box and forgetting about them they have been lost and untouched for years and I just happened to come across the stash a couple of days ago. Before I forget again I thought I would revisit the project.
 
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Brokennock

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Yes, that's a real word. Over the years I have acquired a number of knives with blades that are correct, some with minor reshaping, for different periods from the Revolution to post Civil War but they have 2 issues. First is the handles, pommels and guards in many cases. This isn't really too difficult to correct but the real issue is that almost all are stainless which has discouraged me from doing anything with them. I'm wondering what any of you have done to kill the shine or give stainless an aged or used look. Other than putting them in a box and forgetting about them they have been lost and untouched for years and I just happened to some across the stash a couple of days ago. Before I forget again I thought I would revisit the project.
I seem to recall a coating of naval jelly applied, allowed to sit for a while, then removed, will dull stainless. I do not know how long is too long to let it work.
I am sure someone here does.
Or, will quickly jump in and tell me I'm wrong.
 
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the real issue is that almost all are stainless which has discouraged me from doing anything with them
Tough call. There's all kinds of stainless out there. Some has a high enough carbon content to be worthwhile, meaning it can be sharpened, and other stuff that's made to be a butter knife or fork and will never change no matter how hard a stone you put it up against.
To dissect your project blades is easy enough,, will a common stone sharpen the steel?
If not, toss'm.
 
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An acid bath will dull most stainless steels. When I was in college we had a professor who like to throw a steel rod "through " a large horse shoe magnet and yell catch to the students sitting in the front row. The rod would never make it through until one day it did!. I took a rod of 303 stainless steel (non magnetic)the same size and put it in an acid bath for a few hours and replaced his rod with the stainless rod. We warned the students sitting in the front row that the rod would go through the student caught it and tossed it back. The professor was so shocked he did not catch it and it hit him in the chin! we did not intend on hurting the professor but when you try to pull a prank you never know what the results will be.
 
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Yeah, white vinegar is my go-to for knocking down the shine. On stainless. I have one stainless spoon in my silverware drawer that has achieved exactly the patina I want to replicate, but unfortunately it’s just down to 20 years of regular use. 😔
Jay
 
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