View Full Version : restoring a damascus

11-29-2007, 12:40 PM
i am a new registrant to the forum although in the past i have been on the site with a knife making friend of mine Shane Ivie (skivie) unfortunatly he passed away a little over a year ago. without him around to get answers from i am hoping someone on this network could give me some advise.
I have recently purchased an antique shotgun with damascus barrels, the barrels have quite a bit of rust on them and i would like to restore them,the damascus is a very nice 3bar pattern, if i use a metal polish it will remove the rust however it also will remove the finish of the damascus. what can you recomend?
Thanks in advance,

11-29-2007, 01:02 PM
this is rather strange although someone actually tried it, i will post the findings

Myth: Etching Damascus with Diet Coke

Is it possible to bring the pattern out in damascus with diet coke?

This is a lovely little blade in its own right and a tribute to Mozzys skill.
Caffeine free Diet Coke
Milk and water
Microwave Oven


Mozzy (LF) had been interested in the diet coke etching thread and kindly offerd a damascus blade to try and bring out the damascus etch. Apologies to Mozzy for the delay in getting this posted; I was not too well last week. More pictures will follow, but don't do the Myth justice.

The Myth was explored in my garden in association with Assistant Mythbuster Guycep over lunch on a sunny afternoon.

When I first looked at Mozzys blade I thought it was mirror polished, the damascus was that faint. Guy commented on this as well. However there was a very, very faint pattern.

We placed the blade in a plastic bowl of caffeine free Diet Coke for twenty minutes, after which there was a clear pattern emerging. We repeated this with fresh diet coke for another twenty minutes, and the pattern became more pronounced.

Guy then suggested that we microwave the Diet Coke until almost boiling, which we did, and replaced the blade for a final fifteen minutes.

We then 'quenched' the blade in a 50/50 mixture of milk and water to neutralise the effects of the various acids in the Diet Coke.

At the end of the process there was a very clear and attractive damascus pattern in the steel. There are very nice etch lines parallell to the blade for roughly 8mm, then patterns like fingerprint whorls across the rest of the blade. Immediately after the process there was a distinct blueish mother of pearl effect in the etching, which has largely faded ten days later but can still be seen in the right light.


Caffeine free Diet Coke is a remarkably effective medium for bring out the etch patterns in damascus steel. Heating the Diet Coke certainly accelerates the process, and I hypothesize that twenty minutes in hot Diet Coke would bring out the pattern in any piece of damascus steel to a remarkable degree.


amazingly it did bring out the damascus pattern quite well. :smokin

11-29-2007, 02:27 PM
Thanks for the response. would the barrel have to be polished down to the mirror finish before trying this or do you believe that the coke would disolve the rust spot at the same time? i have heard of people using coke to losen rusty bolts.
Thanks again for the response.

11-29-2007, 03:06 PM
Soft drinks contain a mild acid, carbolic acid, from the carbon dioxide in the solution (the stuff that makes it fizz). Many different mild acids will etch carbon steels.

But consider this. I assume you have other firearms. Would you dump a can of soda on those? Besides containing the acid, soda also contains all sorts of other stuff that could make a sticky mess.

Use the search option here to look up the previous posts dealing with damascus etching using ferric chloride (FeCl). It can be found at Radio Shack, and is sold as an etchant for circuit boards.

Also, you might consider posting your question in the forums maintained by Gun Parts Corp./Numrich Arms. The website is There are 2 sets of forums, one to ask about parts from the company (forum list on the left side of the page in this link). The other set of forums are the public forums (listed on the right side of that page), and you'll want to post your question there. You might get a few guys that will immediately tell you not to shoot your gun (duh!) and a few more that will actually try and answer your question. There are a lot of good knowledgeable people there, some of whom are gunsmiths that deal with antique guns and their restoration. If you stop by there tell Zeke and the gang that njs said hello.

11-29-2007, 03:12 PM
a gun forum would most likely be your best bet for a good solution, as they have most likely come across the problem a few times


11-29-2007, 03:24 PM
Thanks for the help guys and the link. i'll jump over there and see what they have to say.
Thanks again,

11-29-2007, 03:31 PM
Armory, Coke is the biggest user of phosphoric acid !!! It also contains a bit of carbolic acid. Any acid can bring out the damascus pattern . I would first strip the rust .Depending on how serious the rust is start with Naval Jelly [phosphoric acid in a gel] .If it needs more than that use abrasive paper with successively finer grits until cleaned to the point you want [don't be more agressive than necessary]. Then comes the treatment to bring out the pattern. Originally they may have just rust blued it but you could try various acids or ferric chloride. Acid , concentration, temperature ,time are all variables .You have to play with it to get the effect you want, just as you would a damascus blade. Then boil in baking soda solution to neutralize and oil or wax the barrel....BTW there were real damascus barrels of high quality, barrels of poor quality damascus [dangerous to shoot] and even fake damascus with the pattern etched on.

11-29-2007, 03:37 PM
Just for my own knowledge, how long would you recomend leaving it in the ferric chloride solution and would that take of the rust as well or should the metal be polished before placing in the solution? and would a metal polish have any problematic reaction to the ferric chloride?

11-29-2007, 04:34 PM
i sure appreciate all your responses, i've put in threads at the link you mentioned above Armory and haven't had even a hello from anyone. this is really a great messageboard you all have going here. since you all have been responding and have had such good insight there is another question that i have. the gun i am working on is a W&C Scott & Son 10 gauge i have been trying to find more info on the company and the age and value of this gun however the only thing i have been able to come up with is that the company existed between 1820 and 1887 at which time it was partially bout by Webley becoming Webley Scott and sons. any ideas?

11-29-2007, 05:26 PM
I just asked on the Gun Collecting section about your gun. The work you want to do should only be done after you find the value of the gun and serious thought given to not damaging the value !!

11-29-2007, 05:54 PM

If it is a Webley, then I would really think about whether or not to attempt restoration yourself. Mete is correct in that you really need to find the value of the gun first in its current condition. Believe it or not, antique guns are often more valuable in their sad looking shape than if they were refinished.

You should look into having it professionally appraised by someone knowledgeable in antique firearms (i.e. someone qualified to give an estimate of its value adequate for insurance purposes, not the guy in a local gun shop who will try to look it up in a book or online). That person could then give you an idea of the value as is, the value if properly restored, and might offer a suggestion as to whether or not to attempt the work.

The forum I gave you the link to can be sporadic in its postings. Some of those guys have full time jobs or gunsmith businesses and only have time to check posts evenings or weekends. I'll hop over there and encourage some of the guys I know to give their opinion.


12-02-2007, 08:24 AM

Check your question post over at the Numrich forum, if you haven't already.


12-03-2007, 01:36 PM
Nathan, i did see there responses i can't thatnk you enough for all the help. i am currently looking for a qualified antiques Apraiser here in Utah until then i am trying to decide whether to clean the barrels the way Zeke and jim have described on the Numrich forum or just wait. the other problem is that this is a Christmas gift for my father and i am running out of time.
thanks again for all the help.

12-03-2007, 02:27 PM
Clint, good luck with your project. When it comes to antique firearm restoration, the best advice is to take your time and do it right. Many fine old guns have had their collectors value reduced because people didn't do their homework.