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How to Steel


The Ultimate How-To Steel Guide

As one of the largest steel service centers in the country, we provide steel products and steel services to clients from various industries. However, we know that many people are interested in learning how to blacken, bend, polish, and perform other treatments to modify steel at home. 

There are many types of steel, including: 

The following guide is a general approach to perform a variety of treatments on steel. However, some applications may not apply to a particular type of steel. Let’s dive in and learn more about our advanced steel services and steel facts

How to Blacken Steel

Blackening steel is the process of giving the metal a darker finish by using hot chemicals, oil, and other treatments. Before blackening steel, clean and pretreat the metal using an alkaline detergent. You may have to use a wire brush or a more intensive approach if the service has rust. The most common blackening process is hot blackening. Take the steel and submerge it in a hot bath (286°F) of sodium hydroxide, nitrates, and nitrites to turn the outer layer into magnetite. Check out other methods here. 

How to Bend Steel

There are many ways to bend steel using various methods, including heat, by hand, or using specialized tools. Hard steels, such as cold-rolled and stainless steel, are harder to bend and produces a “V” shape than softer hot-rolled steel that makes a “U” shape. Review this guide to dive into the various methods to bend a steel object. 

How to Heat Treat Steel

You will need a ceramic oven to heat treat steel at home. Put the metal into the forge or oven using a pair of metal tongs. Wear safety goggles and heavy gloves to protect yourself. Keep the steel towards the hottest part of the flame. Once the metal is a deep red, submerge it in a container of room-temperature water. Move the steel in and out of the liquid until it no longer glows red. Temper the steel in a 325-degree oven until it runs the color of light straw. 

How to Anodize Steel

Anodising is the electrolytic process to coat a metal with an oxide layer which helps prevent corrosion. However, anodizing steel isn’t a necessary application. For instance, since stainless steel doesn’t corrode, you won’t get an oxide layer. If you’d like to learn more about the complex process of anodizing steel, watch this video to learn more. 

How to Blue Steel

First, grind or sand your steel to prepare it for the bluing process. Use a sander or grinder to remove any pits for a better finish. Put on gloves and use alcohol wipes to clean the metal. Dip a cotton ball into a bluing solution and apply it. Wipe the metal dry and polish the steel using 800 grit sandpaper. Continue to apply additional coats until your steel is the desired color. 

How to Patina Steel

Prepare your steel by cleaning it with a scrub brush and a few drops of degreaser or dish soap. Submerge the steel in a solution that is equal parts vinegar and salt for no less than half an hour. Intensify the oxidation process by adding 1-part hydrogen peroxide for every 4-parts of your vinegar solution. Remove the steel and allow it to dry. Apply an acrylic finish to protect the patina and prevent flaking. 

How to Drill Through Steel

Before drilling through your steel, make a dimple into the spot your drill bit will enter. Lubricate your drill bit to reduce friction and heat build-up. Make sure to use clamps to secure your steel to your workboard and prevent slipping. Start drilling the dimpled section to create a small hole. Remove any sharp edges or burrs left behind. Drill slowly and select a drill bit that will produce the desired size of the hole in the steel. 

How to Polish Steel

Clean your steel using some dish soap and rinse it off. Purchase a steel polish and coat the surface using a sponge or cloth. Let the solution sit for at least 3 minutes. Wipe down the steel with a damp microfiber cloth. Finally, wash the steel using warm water and completely dry it off. 

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