Blue Steel Barrettes





Introduction: Blue Steel Barrettes


Steel washers
Wood Nails
Paper clips

Step 1: Make an Oval

Take a washer and hammer it on it’s edge. The washer will start to take on an oval shape. At the same time the washer will begin to fold in half. When this happens, lay it down and hammer it flat again.

Go back and forth between hammering the washer on it’s edge and hammering it flat again until you have the shape you want.

Step 2: Shape the Barrette

Lay the washer down on a piece of scrap wood. Use a socket to form the shape by hammering it against the washer. While you do this, compare the washers so they end up identical.

File the edges of the washer until it’s rounded all around. Start by taking the edge down at A 45 degree angle. Ease the edge further by rolling the washer against the rotary tool. Go at it until the edges taper nicely towards the center.

Use 400 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. Move on to 1000 grit, 2000 grit, and finally polishing compound on a polishing wheel.

Step 3: Make the Detent

Mount a nail into a drill press. Spin it round and use a file to reduce the head until it hides behind the barrette.

Next use the file to shape a ball close to the head of the nail. Snip the detent off and remount in the drill press so the ball end protrudes.

File the ball side until it’s the shape you want.

Step 4: Make the Hinge Clip

Take a paper clip and wrap it around another as shown in the picture. Remove the coiled wire and cut it down to size. Place the cut section back on a section wire. Make the edges of the hinge flat by filing it down with a grinding stone. Do this for each side on both hinge sections.

Extend a paper clip and form it as shown in the picture. Use socket to form a round shape in the clip. Place the clip in the hinge section. The clip will help keep the hinge in place during soldering. Otherwise the hinge will roll right off the barrette.

Step 5: Solder

Apply flux paste to the soldering areas. Place the detent on one side and the hinge with the clip on the other. Solder them in place. The clip will solder into the hinge but it can easily be worked free while leaving the coiled section in place.

Step 6: Oxidize the Metal

Remove the clip from the barrette. Wipe any finger prints or dirt  from the barrette.  Flip it over and heat it with a torch. At first the metal will turn brown. Very shortly thereafter it will turn blue. It you hold it longer it will turn black. As long as it's clean it will oxidize uniformly.

Play around with it. If you don’t like the color, sand it off with 2000 grit paper and do it again.

Keep in mind while you do this the solder will liquify. It will stay in place as long as you let it cool and re-harden before you handle it.

Step 7: Put It Together

Replace the clip and adjust it so it snaps over the ball detent. If you want a larger barrette, simply start with a bigger washer.



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awesome! would it be better to oxidize before soldering, that way you don't have to remove the clip and worry about the solder melting off?

You could but the your more likely to get an irregular finish because when you solder the barrette it will be face down on something an pick up impurities on that surface.

Would having it on smooth scrap wood still have that issue?

I thinks so, since the temperature would be different as the surface got closer to the wood while applying the flame. But that's just a guess.

Good point, I believe your method would be best.

Great result. :)

I really like the color you got. Also, thanks for posting the information you found relative to the colors (to brooklynlord's question).

Do all types of steel oxidise like that?

I was really interested in the oxidising part...

Also, does oxidising it make it harder?

Here's what I found at this web site. It shows what temperature for what color steel. Looks like I heated theses to 570 degrees. I don't know about hardness though. I sure it's on the web. Steel Temper Colors
Plain Carbon Steel Only - Hardness Rockwell C
English Color Text Fahrenheit Color Celsius SAE
1040 SAE
1050 SAE
1070 SAE
Clear - As fully hardened 100° 38° 54 59 64 67
Pale yellow 2 420° 216° 51 55 59 63
Very pale yellow 1 430° 221°
Light yellow 1, 2, Straw 3 440° 227°
Pale straw-yellow 1, Straw 3 450° 232° 50 54
Straw-yellow 1, 2 460° 238° 62
Deep straw-yellow 1, 3 470° 243°
Dark yellow 1, Light orange 3 480° 249° 58
Yellow-brown 1, Orange 3 490° 254° 49 53 61
Brown-yellow 1, 3, Bronze 2 500° 260°
Spotted red-brown 1, Dark Brown 2 510° 266°
Brown with purple spots 1, 2 520° 271° 52 57
Light purple 1, 2, Purple 3 530° 277° 48 60
Full purple 1, Purple 2 540° 282°
Dark purple 1 550° 288°
Full blue 1, 3 560° 293° 47 51 56 59
Dark blue 1, Blue 2 570° 299°
Dark blue 2 590° 310° 58
Pale blue 3 46 50 55
Light blue 2 610° 321°
Greenish blue 2, Grey 3 630° 332° 45 54 57
Light blue 1 640° 338°
Steel grey 2 650° 343° 44 47 53 56
Steel grey 700° 371° 42 46 51 54
750° 400° 40 44 50 52
800° 427° 38 42 47 49
900° 482° 35 37 43 44
Lowest visible red 1000° 538° 30 32 36 39
English Colour Text Fahrenheit Colour Celsius SAE
1040 SAE
1050 SAE
1070 SAE
Converted temps. rounded to nearest degree. Hardness +/- 1Rc @ +/-5°F of published data.

I believe those last 2-4 numbers for each color are supposed to be the hardness numbers for 1040, 1050, 1070, and 1095 respectively.

If I remember correctly, those steels would all be plain carbon steel with the last two numbers representing the carbon content. (1040 is 0.4% carbon, 1050 is 0.5% carbon, etc.) However, I'm not sure what treatment these numbers refer to, as how you cool the steel is at least as important as how hot you heat it.

That said, the treatment mrballeng is doing probably does affect the hardness, though I'm not sure which way.

Where did you get the 1000 and 2000 grit sandpaper? I've been looking at hardware stores, and cant find any.