Question: inlay

diane b

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Can mild steel be used as inlay in the steel used in guns and knives? I'm taking a class using keum bo technique on mild steel, which is more of an application for jewelry. I really like the results and am wondering if I can use the mild steel for inlay. Would there be rust issues or galvanic corrosion issues? I don't know much about steel, the different types and how different types of steel interact with other types of steel. Thank you for any help you can give me. - Diane B
 

John B.

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Hello Diane. The answer is yes.
I regularly use soft iron binding wire to inlay into carbon steel firearms for various decorative purposes and also including small, clean pit filling of damaged guns.
And don't usually have much trouble with blue matching or French Gray finishing.
In inlaying dissimilar metals it is important to keep things clean. Even acid from the hands
and two dissimilar metals can form a miniature battery and set up galvanic corrosion.
Are you using a texture background to attach your keum bo?
Again, watch the acid.
 

jerrywh

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Yes you can inlay mild steel. Any iron based alloy will rust but you can coat it with cerakote and stop the rusting. Ceracote will also stop the acid problem from being handled by people that are eating hot dogs with mustard on them.
 
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diane b

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Dear John and Jerry,
Thank you so much for your reply and information.

John: Today was the first day of class and Bette discussed texturing the steel for decorative purposes, but it isn't necessary for the gold to attach to the steel. Bette did explain that attaching gold to steel is different than attaching it to fine silver as the gold doesn't have as good an attachment to steel as it does to silver (which is what I'm counting on) which can create a mottled effect with the gold against the black, oxidized steel. She showed various applications and one was a band of binding wire that had areas of gold which had randomly flaked off in places along the wires. I'm thinking it might be interesting to do a wire inlay using that "look" with the wire being proud to the surface of the steel. I don't want to deform the wire when I inlay it into the steel. Is the mild steel soft enough that I could use a part of a chop stick or piece of delrin with an area carved out to match the shape of the wire, as a punch to inlay the wire into the prepared channel in the steel? I've used that technique when I've inlayed fine silver and copper into steel.

Jerry: Is the cerakot something that wears off and needs to be re-applied every so often? I've never heard of it and will look it up.

Again, thank you both for your help.
 

John B.

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Diane ,thank you for your reply.
When inlaying iron wire to remain "standing proud" I have found it useful to seat the wire with a steel punch that I make for the job.
The punch is made from a piece of soft state drill rod, and remains in the soft state.
Using a small round graver, cut a groove in the end of the punch.
Polish the groove with dental floss and abrasive powder, ease the edges of the groove.
File or sand away surplus metal on the end of the punch for a better view when working.
I use a hammer to strike it with the punch groove straddling the wire, to seat and form it.
Use uniform taps to seat the wire and to not leave marks beside your inlay wire.
This needs some practice.
It probably can also be done using the punch held in a pneumatic handpiece.

Remember, battery/ galvanic action can occur when attaching dissimilar metals.
The acid may arrive not from acid hands later, but from acid hands during the inlay process.
Be sure to wipe down your inlay area, wire or sheet with a little acetone before inlaying.
 
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jerrywh

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diane b
Cerakote does not wear off it can only be removed with abasives. There is no known chemical that will remove it, after it cures. I even tried aircraft paint remover ans oven cleaner, It will stand 800 ° F. However it is expensive but all good stuff is.
 

diane b

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John, goodness, thank you for such great information regarding the inlay tool construction and advice to avoid any acid being present during the inlay process. I appreciate the time you took to type this all out.

Jerry, I'll be anxious to see how this coating works with different chemical and heat patinas on jewelry as well as the keum-boo. Thank you for passing this along. I appreciate you sharing the information with me.

Tdelewis, I looked on YouTube and there only seems to be video on traditional keum-boo, not using this technique on steel. However, after finishing this class with Bette Barnette if you watch the video for traditional keum-boo, the application is basically the same using steel, but you must burnish much more when applying gold to steel than when applying the gold to fine silver. Bette has a couple of videos, but these are really more for advertising what she will teach in the class than how-to videos.
 

John B.

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Diane. If you find yourself damaging the metal with the punch "legs" leaving marks beside your raised wire inlay, make the same type of punch out of a 1/8 inch round bronze brazing rod.
Bronze is also what I use to seat raised gold wire lines and borders into steel.
 
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