WHAT IS REFINISHING - Surface Texture

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INTRODUCTION

The following is the most descriptive written paper on the basics of weapon refinishing ever offered to the consumer. It is designed to answer 95 percent of the questions you might have about what we do.  

We have taken great pains to explain why we are different and offer more than just metal plating. It also serves to save you money and time.  Few companies tell you what they really do, we have no reluctance to keep you informed.  We feel we offer the best bang for the buck.

Just to let you know, we appreciate conversation but phone calls cost us both. We are a highly skilled, labor intensive business and the telephone is the number one distraction. On the other hand it is better than email if you have many questions. If we had to hire additional staff to answer questions we would have to raise the price of doing business. 

In addition, we have very highly skilled technicians who have to produce a certain volume for us to stay competitive.   We can't be working on your gun if we are on the phone with you. We welcome your calls but we try to maintain a fast turnaround in a market that changes daily.

Our business is unique.  We do not do bumpers, motorcycle parts, faucets or other household items......with the exception of golf clubs, that's our other downfall, we like to play once in a while.


SURFACE TREATMENTS
Your guns final appearance is based on two factors.  The surface treatment it receives and then the exterior top-coat or plating. These exterior coatings are either "Plated" or "Applied" finishes.  Plated finishes are just that.  Metallic particles applied through electricity to bond to the basic metal or alloy of the firearm.  Applied finishes are sprayed onto the firearm and cured or hardened by heat.  It's that simple....sure if you're an alchemist.  

All of our plated finishes, except Black Chrome, are available in four levels of surface texturing, or luster. They are: "AS-IS Matte", Matte, Brushed and Bright Finishes.  Due to the tight tolerances of firearms, we must prepare the part prior to plating to the level of polish we want after the plating is applied. Our plate will "mirror" the finish below. The Brushed Chrome is exaggerated for explanative purposes. 

Matte finish looks almost like the background of the page you are looking at if you own a MAC.  Obviously all computer screens cannot duplicate the exact pictures we are trying to show you but this should give you the simple differences you can expect to see.

Plated finishes of any kind offer the greatest wear resistance and a very high degree of corrosion resistance.  The finish is the final covering of metal that resides on the surface of the firearm or golf club.  What ever the metal surface looks like before plating, when plated,  it looks the same. So we first create a surface, like matte or brushed or high polish and then we plate and the plate takes on he characteristics of the metal.


Most plated finishes have hardness ratings greater than the base metal they are applied to. And offer superb corrosion resistance in the 100 salt test level.  Preparation: We use both chemical and manual methods such as buffing and sanding to prepare the metal for finishing. 


We have to remove the old finish and make sure the surface is properly prepared to accept and bond to the new finish.  The plated finishes like chrome easily restore the dimensions. Proper preparation includes the texture, acidity, or neutralization, cleanliness, flaw removal, parts fit, and a hundred other th
ings....

MATTE FINISH

First we strip off the old finish.  Our normal procedure is to remove flaws prior to final blasting.We use a mixture of fine and medium glass beads for our matte finishes which adds to the otherwise flat look of bead blasting.  In other words, you cannot plate firearms as you would plate a bumper. Bumpers are plated using multiple-layers of soft plate to fill the flaws which cuts down on the hand labor involved in getting to your final finish. Our standard Matte finish is used on certain areas of guns for glare reduction as with the top of the slide on a .45.  Also it is very popular on smaller concealed weapons.  It's very durable, just not as pretty as the brushed look.The most common surface finish is Matte since we get a lot of rusted or blued guns looking for an uplift.els.While we can tape off the flat surfaces of most slides perfectly it is next to impossible to accomplish on a frame do to all the curved areas.

BRUSHED FINISH
Brushed finishes are skillfully created by the application of a 400 greaseless grit and buffer wheel combination applied by the technician. If you were to look at it under a powerful magnification, it would appear similar to the picture. Only our most skilled technicians do the brush finishes. It is our most popular. Most of the actual gun pictures on this site are the brushed chrome look. There are combinations available of some surfaces brushed and other parts of the same piece matted. Brushed finishes have a brighter sheen but are not as reflective as you might think. Brushed finishes are applied after flaw removal and preparatory bead blasting have been performed and has a subdued luster.

The firearms manufacturers do this by clamping a padded frame to each side of the frame being textured with the blaster.  Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of having extra frames available for all the different firearms manufactured.  Even 1911 Colt Style pistols vary in configuration of sections of the frame from manufacturer to manufacturer.  So at AP&W if you request bright finishing on your firearm we will matte the top and rear of the slide and the top rear of frame only.  This gives the shooter a totally non-reflective sighting surface.
 

MIRROR OR BRIGHT

Please realize that bright plated surfaces show finger printing and smearing of lubricants dramatically. The page the forward will take you to is a 1911 Presentation Grade.  So make sure when handling your bright polished, or plated firearm you keep a rag handy to wipe it down.Personally, I own six bright polished firearms.These handguns are display presentation, or collectibles, not pieces I use very often.When bright polishing is done the sharp edges of lettering and logos will always have a slight break to it and cannot be avoided.Most people wouldn’t even notice it, but, it is there and as a client of AP&W you should be made aware of this.Lastly, bright polished firearms show flaws dramatically.  Extreme care and extra maintenance is required to keep these finishes looking their best.


More on BRIGHT or MIRROR FINISHES:  They are the most difficult to accomplish correctly and have a mirror bright luster.  Extensive working of the metal is required with multiple grit sizes and polishing compounds.  Each successively finer grit should be cross cut to ensure full removal of the previous grit size.  Otherwise you can get the final bright and find lines you have remove taking you back through the process several levels of grit size. This is very labor intensive and requires personnel with a high level of skill and experience.  

NOTE: Clients have requested combo bright finishes where the sides of the pistol are bright and the rounds are a dull matte finish.  We can do this type of texturing perfectly on a semi auto slide that has a sharp edge between the flat and rounded surfaces, but, cannot do this on the frame. 

Disclaimer:  Due to the configuration of the final bright polish wheels and the amount of pressure that has to be applied to get the steel bright, the matte areas have to be done after the bright polish to avoid over run on the matte with the bright polishing.


“BRIGHT MASTER POLISH"

On Rough Firearms can add up to $50.00 to the bill.  There is magic about a Brightly Polished Gun. Some say “as long as it's in a glass cabinet” because of the handling, fingerprints, scratches, etc. Obviously most of them are ceremonial gifts, for recognition or collections. Understand that these Bright Master finishes are for firearms with only minor flaws, even new roughly built firearms can incur extra charges.  

For example Desert Eagles are very roughly finished firearms. Using the latest technology in refinishing and flaw removal (Diamond Belts, Impregnated Super Grits to higher levels, etc) we take a backseat to no one in this skilled operation and when we Master finish your firearm it looks like it should.  It is a stepped operation with no short cuts. "Beware of low cost bright finishes", you may get back a lot less gun than what you started with".

Master finishes are handled by Bob Cogan and our shop foreman only and are fairly labor intense operations so you retain the sharp lines and angles of the piece being worked on.  We see many that come here that have lost the appeal and original shape of the weapon or firearm and it's almost impossible to bring that back. There are alterations we might do to save the piece and make it useful.  (Stippling, Flattening, Checkering, Resurfacing, Flat finishing, Milling etc.)  Any Firearm not listed will be quoted individually by phone or email.

© APW COGAN Custom Shop