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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 7:34 am    Post subject: ancient and early medieval metal abrasives/ rust removers         Reply with quote

essentially, yeah, what did people use to, say, remove a lot of rust, or forging scale to make a piece pretty, to bring it up to the point you can start buffing it (i know that for russian and byzantine armies which is what i am researching this for, shiny gleaming helmets were the desired look)

i especially wish to know, partially to have the information to make a dshow of de-rusting/ finishing up a helmet for public crowds at a show late next month

i believe i remember someone, somewhere said pumice stones were involved but i dont know why

in place of anything else i might just use sand and oil rubbed into the surface with a rag, (i do know that oily sand was used for mail in the medieval period so maybe?

any help would be lovely.
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A metal polishing agent that has been used for centuries is horsetail fern which has a lot of silica in it.
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vinegar and sand for rust. Horsetail/scouring rush/Equisetum can be split and dried. Pumice, rottenstone, iron oxide (rouge), chalk...
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 10:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Worthington wrote:
Vinegar and sand for rust. Horsetail/scouring rush/Equisetum can be split and dried. Pumice, rottenstone, iron oxide (rouge), chalk...
may i ask more or less what the sources were, or at least what period did you hear of these various abrasives being mentioned/ referred to etc


as for a lot of the powders, how would they be utilised, i.e rouge, chalk etc. rubbed in with a cloth?

while you're at it just tell me more about the various ones and what you do know about their use, age of use etc, as much as you know (or little, no such thing as tTMI)
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Michele Allori




Location: Rome, Italy
Joined: 24 May 2017

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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't really know any sources, but vinegar is quite a good bet:
It was widely popular, easy to make, cheap, used for lots of stuff and known to be corrosive to some extent, I wouldn't be surprised if someone discovered its efficacy against rust in the middle ages

Yeah, very cool. Is it historically accurate though?
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can mix various grits into an animal fat and it would act similar to a polishing paste. If that was done or not, I don't know, but it is doable with what they had.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You may want to look up strickles - a shaped wooden stick (the strickle) coated with tallow and sand. I've mostly heard of it used for sharpening scythes, but might be an option for weapons or armor as well. I imagine it would also work well with abrasives other than sand. In the case of plate armor/helmets though, I imagine a rag or piece of leather would work better just because it would conform to the curves better.
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Guillaume Vauthier




Location: France
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 1:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I saw somewhere (I think that it was on Dimicator FB page) that they also could use brick powder and saliva to make a polishing paste, rubbed on the blade with a goat skin. Apparently it is quite effective.
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 9:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I recall being told mail was cleaned by being tumbled with vinegar and sand. No source.

Equisetum is used around the world, and its use probably goes back to prehistory. That it can be split, dried, and stored, a Renaissance or Baroque source, I think.

The earth-abrasives like pumice, iron oxide, rottenstone, etc. possibly Cennini's Craftsman's Handbook, which is early Renaissance.

Brick dust is from 18th/19th century sources, as far as I remember.

Diderot mentions using dogfish skin as sandpaper.

I'll see if I can find more solid sources in the next few days.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 5:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know so much about vinegar and sand on mail. Seems like it would clump. I sold a rusty mail shirt to a fellow here once, and he put it in a burlap bag with fine, dry sand and then tumbled it. He said it worked perfectly. He never really elaborated as to *how* he tumbled it. I hope he didn't put it in the clothes dryer! Eek! I wouldn't want to be in the house with THAT going on! Laughing Out Loud ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is more than one source telling us that mail was cleaned by tumbling it in bran. It was possibly used because of the oils in the bran rather than ts abrasive qualities. Mail cleans perfectly well without any abrasive at all.

Native Australians used leaves from the Ficus coronata as sandpaper. They used sandstone lubricated with water as an abrasive.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've seen bran mentioned in 18th/19th c. books, tumbled or rolled. I also came across a reference to wood ash on leather for cleaning knives. Also 19th. c.

Besides The Craftsman's Handbook (which wasn't published until the 19th c.), "how to" books don't show up often before the encyclopedists and the Industrial Revolution.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theophilus' On Divers Arts should qualify as a "how to" book similar to those written in the 18th/19th C. The Romans had plenty of these kinds of books as well. Pliny is the most well known.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theophilus doesn't have much to say about cleaning rusty helmets.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 6:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

He specifically tells us that bran was used to clean iron. IIRC it is in the section on tinning.
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You're right. I missed it.

Quote:
clean it with bran, and a linen cloth.
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 7:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course, he's describing polishing freshly tinned iron, not cleaning the iron. He says to clean it with a file, and not to touch the clean iron before tinning.

Quote:
“Quicquid super stagnare volueris in ferro, primum lima et priusquam manu tangas, noviter limatum in patellam stagni liquefacti cum adipe projice, et cum forcipe commove, donee candidum fiat, eductumque fortiter excute, atque cum furfure et lineo panno purga.
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Richard Worthington





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PostPosted: Tue 15 Aug, 2017 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Musaeum Regalis Societatis 1681, p.315.

Quote:
Emery.... For the brightening of Armour
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Aug, 2017 1:56 am    Post subject: Re: ancient and early medieval metal abrasives/ rust remover         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
essentially, yeah, what did people use to, say, remove a lot of rust, or forging scale to make a piece pretty, to bring it up to the point you can start buffing it (i know that for russian and byzantine armies which is what i am researching this for, shiny gleaming helmets were the desired look)

Right now, the thing to read is Traditional Armour Finishing Processes http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewto...p;t=184748
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Peter Spätling




Location: Germany
Joined: 07 Nov 2015

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PostPosted: Thu 17 Aug, 2017 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

you don't need oil when cleaning maille. Sand alone is a good abrasive.
Oil will just make your maille smell and sticky.
Armour was ground with sandstones (when available) and files of various grits. Afterwards the final polishing was probably done with "Polierrot" - polishing red - made from Wüstite. Using a mixture of water or oil the powder was applied to a leather strip which itself was mounted on a thick stick, or a leather covered water powered wooden wheel. (15th & 16th century)
I'm gonna find out more about this in the future....
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