How to Blacken Armour

Introduction: How to Blacken Armour

Being a knight in shining armour is fun and all, but keeping it shiny can be a headache, plus, that black knight guy keeps showing up and being more bad ass, the solution? become the black knight obviously.
Really though, blackening is a period, durable, rust resistant surface finish, plus it's a lot easier and faster than polishing.
There are a whole lot of different ways to make your armour black, This is the one that I use.

Step 1: What You'll Need

First off you need a good source of heat, I use a weed burner/tiger torch, but in the past I've also used a BBQ and an oven... I recommend against the oven however, because although it worked really well, it also smoked out the entire top floor of my old apartment building.
You'll also need oil in a spray bottle. These days I use linseed oil, but in the past I've used WD40 and Olive oil, both work well.
Lastly, a rag or some sort, and maybe some gloves.
I shouldnt have to say it, but a fireproof surface you don't worry about making a mess on is a good idea. I have a sheet of aluminum on a couple bricks here.

Thats it.

Step 2: Blackening.

So, have you ever burnt something into a pan really good and had to scrub it off? you know how tough that stuff is? well, that's what were going to coat the armour with.

Start off by firing up your torch and heating the surface of your armour. Pretty quick you'll see a line where the moisture in the pores of the metal is evaporating. play the torch across the entire surface until you have removed all that moisture. It should only take a minute or two. I have no science to back this up, but I suspect that by removing that moisture it allows the oil to soak into the pores, giving the finished blackening that much more of a hold on the steel. Also it preheats the metal so the oil will spread into a film a bit easier.

Got that done? OK, put the torch down to the side, grab your spray bottle of oil and unload a bunch of oil onto the metal. Once you've done that grab the rag and wipe it into a smooth coat.

We're halfway done now.

Next grab the torch again, move around to the back side of the armour and start heating. The biggest reason I do this from the back is that it makes it easier to see how dark the oil is getting. Pretty quick it'll start to go golden brown, then a deeper plum brown, next it gets a bit of a reddish hue to it and from there it will darken to a glossy black with some reddish brown undertones.

If you over heat it the oil can start to flake off, if that happens  I finish the rest of the piece then come back and spot blacken that spot again.

I've always gone to black, but since linseed oil is a drying oil I suspect that you could stop at any point in the process and let it dry in that colour, I could also be wrong though, anyone here know? With olive oil and WD40 I've found that you need to go all the way to black or it just stays a tacky mess.

I usually do 2 or 3 coats of oil. I lacked a third hand to take pictures of this, but for the second coat I bring the torch back around to the front of the armour and I spray oil onto the armour in the middle of the flame and work my way over the armour till it's completely
covered again. I find that what the flame doesnt burn it forces into a film before it can drip and run. Then I bring the torch back around back and heat it like before.

I let the armour cool after the second coat, then look to see if there is anywhere that needs touching up, if there is I oil and blacken just those spots for the third coat.

Step 3: It's Done

That's It, It's done. Let it cool off till you can touch it and it should be good to go.

Here's a couple of other pieces I've blackened. The spaulders are with olive oil and the trench plate was done with WD40



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    15 Discussions

    I don't have a tourch, would it be possible to use a campfire?

    I would love to know where you got your armor patterns for the parts. They look a lot like the patterns I used to have when I was in the SCA

    4 replies

    I made the patterns from measurements taken from my client.
    that said, there is a pretty good collection of patterns on the armour archive that I'll use as a starting point if i'm not sure what shapes i need to start with on a project.

    Armour archive? Lets assume that I am an old fogie who did his SCA back in the '70s and have little knowledge of where to look for an Armour Archive. So to make a long story short, where would I find such an archive? Do you have a link?

    they've got discussion boards and a whole list of patterns. it's a pretty great site all in all

    Thank you very much I will check them out. And if you have not seen it yet, you might want to look at Devtac's Helmets and Galac-Tac and HK's new level III version of Bobba Fett's armor, its kinda cool

    Devtac Ronin Helmet.jpgGALAC-TAC.jpggalactac_project_mandalorian_ballistic_armor_by_ar500_4.jpg

    wouldn't this destroy any type of heat treatment done to the steel?

    Would you ever be making an instruct able for this armour

    it will work on chainmaill, but i'm not sure how long it would last given maill's self cleaning nature.

    Most excellent, armourkris! At long last, a cheap, simple alternative to anodization! I strongly suspect this will be more durable as well. Marvellous!

    1 reply

    I gaurantee it's tougher than annodizing.Although it's a bad pic those spaulders at the end have seen 10 years of use, they have some thin spots and some scratches, but they are still way more black than not.

    I bult it all, check out some of my other instructables, they're mostly how to build armour