Finishing Black Iron Pipe

Lowespro2

Nick
Senior User
I have a friend that made a wooden table with black iron pipe for the legs, which he never applied a finish to. He has left the black iron pipe as it comes from the supplier with the oil coating, he now is running into the problem of people bumping into the legs and getting the oil and whatever else has stuck to it on their clothes. He asked me how I would finish them. When I told him that if I was finishing them I would probably wipe the oil off with acetone and lightly sand the mill scale and rough surfaces down, wipe it again with rag soaked in acetone to remove the dust and apply a couple of coats of black spray paint (to keep the current look) made for metal application he looked at me funny.

How would you handle finishing the black iron pipe table legs?
 

spartyon8

Peter
User
That’s what we did with our entertainment center. We wiped down with acetone after using a razor blade to scrape most of the gunk off. Then we painted with a bronze spray paint. It worked great for us.
 

jfynyson

Jeremy
User
You can used rubbing alcohol, acetone, or degreaser to get the oil off w/ blue shop towel or paper towel. I used a solvent as well but after initial wipe down I used steel wool with a 2nd round of the solvent then wipe off w/ blue shop towel. I then finished with spray lacquer. This keeps that industrial "real" look w/o making it unnaturally black looking. That was several years ago on 2 different projects and they still look like the day I finished them.
 

Lowespro2

Nick
Senior User
Why did he look at you funny? Sounds like your advice was pretty good. Definitely get the oil/gunk off first.
Bill, when it comes to woodworking finishes he only uses natural oils and waxes. I really believe he looked at me funny because I was suggesting the use of too many chemicals in his eyes. He had mentioned trying to use some sort of wax to coat the pipe, but I think he will still need to remove the oil on it before applying.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Nothing 'natural' about a greasy iron pipe IMO, but if he wants natural, get him to use some EverClear (grain alcohol) and a loofah, then melt some beeswax and coat it with that, or possibly some BLO.
 

Graywolf

Richard
Corporate Member
Bill, when it comes to woodworking finishes he only uses natural oils and waxes. I really believe he looked at me funny because I was suggesting the use of too many chemicals in his eyes. He had mentioned trying to use some sort of wax to coat the pipe, but I think he will still need to remove the oil on it before applying.
You are right, he needs to remove the oil coating on the pipe, after that he do as he pleases.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Lacquer thinner, Rubbing Alcohol, Acetone, any will work as the 2nd cleaning.

1st cleaning use Dawn or Tide to get the heavy grease off, then use the other stuff.

Once clean use #0 steel wool to remove the extrusion surface, kinda like a paint, then sand with 220-320 depending on your desire of fineness.

Then, decide how you want to finish it, whether it be protectorant or oil or varnish. That is how we do it at work.

You end up with a very consistent steel finish.

One thing that really looks cool is to seal with a acrylic thinned down black, let dry then put any translucent color over it. Then seal with urethane or varnish.
 

Mauser44

John
User
Suggestion once it is cleaned; use a rifle blueing kit. That color will soak into the metal versus laying on top.
I heard that if you heat the metal (red hot with a torch) and wipe it with BLO you get the same effect, but never tried it.
 

NCPete

New User
Pete Davio
once super clean like Oka suggests above, perhaps whatever the magic elixir that Jimmy Diresta uses on his steel projects to make them black would be good?
 

ck1999

Chris
User
I'm not sure if this is just a one project or multiiple projects going forward. But he may want to talk to someone who does powder coating. The could decreage/ phosphate / and then powder coat providing a longer standing finish. The colors they could choose are endless. And the Finish is very durable.
 

Lowespro2

Nick
Senior User
All great options for him, thanks for the help! I know he wants to build a few more tables to match the first one he built, I’ll present him with all these suggestions and see which route he takes.
 

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