Argh! Emergency de-rusting of pattern welded blade

I just finished a scabbard for a very nice pattern welded sword made by Dr. Jim Hrisoulas aka "Atar". It appears that there was just a tech of moisture in the leather when I put the sword in it last night.

This is a scan of the worst of it:

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The grey spots in the scan are slightly browner in real life.

Tips/hints on proper removal?

I'm s'posed to deliver it tomorrow (Wednesday). 8-o

-- Carl West

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You are so screwed!....sorry...

Are the stains oxidation or from the leather? Maybe a cleaner like 409 for stain or muratic or HCl for rust. in a pinch try "Lime Away", it's oxacylic acid. Maybe a little Kroil or WD-40? Can you ruin the rest of it to match evenly?

Reply to
Tom Gardner

In the scan it looks pitted. not so in reality. I just want to darken the rust and rub out what I can.

Hmmm... I seem to recall something about boiling rusted items in plain water to turn the oxides black. Ring a bell anyone?

I'm considering a quick re-etch with tomato ketchup. It has worked well on my own work, gave good color, it's cheap, it pretty much stays in place, fairly safe. (just don't get it on your food)

Reply to
Carl West

Try Flitz. It is a rubbing compund for polishing, but works very well on things like guns and knives. It works well on guns because it will remove surface rust without damaging the bluing.

Most gun stores sell it as well as most hardware stores. It comes in a little toothpaste type tube.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

- I'd sandpaper it, but I don't know anything about the finish...

OT: how do you get the weld to show up like that? My experience with forge welding has been clean joints...


-- "I've got more trophies than Wayne Gretsky and the Pope combined!" - Homer Simpson Website @

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Reply to
Tim Williams

Try a home made jewellry cleaning solution that works on almost any metals from gold on down. I had a small jewellry shop where I made the rings and ornaments out of Silver and Gold as well as out of Steel. To clean the metals perfectly I used a mix of 50% water, 25% Ammonia, and 25% dish soap. It is the same mixture that lots of jewellry shops use for cleaning your jewellry when you take it in. It will not damage the metal at all and it will remove crap and rust from old meatls to make them look really new again. For small articles you put it into a ultrasonic cleaner which you can by even at wall mart for cheap. For larger items put it into a pot and start heating it up, but not to boiling and put your article into it and swish it around for approx. 10 minutes or so. Once done take it out and just wash it with water and soap and then dry it and then you are done. THOMAS' Wrought Iron Works at

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First off DO NOT SAND PAPER IT! You'll just end up ruining the finish and loosing the pattern.

Second DO NOT RE-ETCH IT! You can't properly reetch the blade and get a consistent look with ketchup. Don't try - you'll just ruin the blade.

Finally, what you CAN do - Start by wiping it down with plain old Windex. High in ammonia it will neutralize the acids eating at the metal.

Next take a good rough cloth (not scratchy, sort of a wash cloth or shop towel) spray it down with WD-40 and wipe the blade down. Pay particular attention to the damaged areas. The WD-40 will neutralize the ammonia in the Windex and the strippers in the oil will help remove the remaining stain.

If the stain remains, then you'll need to step up to something stronger such as Flitz. I recommend this only as a last resort. Flitz is a powerful chemical product which includes an abrasive - IT CAN AND WILL REMOVE SOME MATERIAL - use it sparingly and only in the areas where the damage remains.

If Flitz doesn't do the job I recommend you return it to either the maker or the owner (whichever you're working for) and let them handle the repair.

On the flip side - you need to figure out what happened to your leather sheath and what it's contaminated with before you go putting that sword back in it.

Mark Henry

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Mark Henry

I think you should NOT try any remedies yourself. The maker knows how he got the patination in the first place, and may be the only one qualified to restore it. Anything you try may make it that much more difficult to get it corrected.

-- --Pete "Peter W. Meek"

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Reply to
Peter W. Meek

Usually it's a chemical etch after heat treatment, strong acids bite really quickly. They eat away the soft parts and leave the hard parts as a raised fingerprint. Atar has been known to use pure nickle in his billets too, which polishes up really white. For the surface rust, think about chemical de-oxidizers, like Naval Jelly, or some of the 'miracle jewelry cleaners' that involve a dissolved power and a 'special metal plate' on the bottom of the pan. Obviously, any kind of abrasive will destroy the finish, so forget them.


Reply to
Charly the Bastard

I'd ask Hrisoulas himself. Although there are plenty of ways to deal with the rust, that's a pattern welded blade and you also need to preserve the etch and patination used to highlight the pattern welding. He uses various etches (acid or alkaline) and may also hot-blue with sodium hydroxide. You may find that you need to refiish the whole blade to do a really good job ! A few more details are in his book "The Pattern Welded Blade", which you ought to have anyway, but you'd want to ask him directly and find out which processes had been used.

(and needless to say, you don;t want to be learning the processes on a customer's blade)

What sort of leather was it ? To suffer rusting this rapidly, I might suspect it was chrome tanned? A blade of this quality deserves a non-corrosive veg tanned leather.

Reply to
Andy Dingley

I've emailed him and will be calling him in an hour or so.

Reply to
Carl West


The bicycle riders use Simichrome Polish (ammonium oleate) to get rust spots off chrome, etc. I use it as a strop treatment for final polish of my carving knives and it's great for that. I've also used it to get rust spots off things like old micrometers and steel rulers. It does a good job of cleaning the rust out from between the steel rulings without changing them in any visible way. Use a soft cloth and you should be able to lift the spots without noticeably effecting the pattern welding. Probably want to rub the whole surface so any slight differences will be invisible. Then make sure you re-oil the surface, since the polish removes all the oil too and leaves the surface primed to rust again.


Reply to
Jim McGill

I would try electrocleaning. It does not remove any metal.

Given the time constraints, you could just use a battery charger for power (polarity is important) and, if you can't round up all the ingredients for the solution, just try plain washing soda (_not_ baking soda) in water.


Reply to
Ted Edwards

Dr. Hrisoulas' suggestion exactly. Simichrome or Mother's. I found Mother's. Worked fine.

Crisis over. Sick feeling gone. Off to work now, time to fix the watches.


Pictures of the finished piece (the scabbard) later.

Reply to
Carl West

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Reply to
Carl West

That's no good! :/ First, the hand grinder then files then sand paper, in that order. ;)

Reading this thread got my feeling sick, you were going to try some of the suggestions... other than the ones that said to get ahold of DrH.

Cool. :)

Alvin in AZ

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The same stupid crap happened to me. I had a holster made for my pistol, put the gun in and it rusted. Holster makers should not turnover wet holsters the bastards. The holster is fine now, (twenty years latter) just wet when I picked it up.


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When you do blueing, you have to add sodium hydroxide until the boiling point is about 280 degrees in order to get black oxide. Below that temp. you get red oxide. So I don't think plain water will work. If you want to try that do it with something else first.


Reply to
Dan Caster

Was this ordinary or oil cured leather? I seem to remember that only oil cured lether should be used as knife scabbards or for any other use where the leather will come in contact with metal.

Reply to
Jim Levie

If possible, you might ask the maker. He knows his steel better than anyone else.

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Mike Patterson

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