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How-To: Cerakote a firearm at home!

This is a discussion on How-To: Cerakote a firearm at home! within the SIG Sauer Pistols forums, part of the SIG Sauer Forum category; After calling, emailing and searching for companies to Cerakote my Sig P225 I decided since I have painted cars before how hard could it be? ...


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Old 07-15-2013, 12:35 PM   #1
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How-To: Cerakote a firearm at home!

After calling, emailing and searching for companies to Cerakote my Sig P225 I decided since I have painted cars before how hard could it be?
Tools and supplies. Not everyone has access to a sand blaster, air compressor, HVLP touch-up gun so this is a how to considering you have the necessary tools to accomplish the job and end up with a professional looking Cerakoted Sig!

http://www.cerakoteguncoatings.com/

This How-To is just the start. I will be updating the steps and process as I proceed. Again, this is my first attempt at Cerakoting a firearm so bare with me!





Disclaimer: Obviously firearms, sand blasting and spraying materials can be dangerous. Make sure you triple check your firearm before you take it all a part. when working with acetone and other dangerous chemicals to be sure you have proper ventilation, protective gloves and a clean, safe environment to work in. I am not making any claims on the actual product or even the process. The information for coating your firearm at home is all over the internet and everyone has their way of doing things, this is my way! Again, I have never done this before and I do not claim to be a certified Sig Armorer or even a gunsmith. I am mechanically inclined, I have built motors, cars as well as other things and I felt comfortable doing this on my own. If you are terrified when it comes to stripping your Sig or other firearm down to individual pieces I suggest you send it out and have it done! Again, there is enough information on coating, prepping and tearing down your specific firearm out there so if you feel confident in taking it on yourself have at it!

Required Tools and Supplies:
  • Air compressor: 80-90 PSI. Water/Oil Filter. Definitely do not to get any water in the line!
  • Sand Blast Cabinet or gravity fed Sand blast Gun: (Cabinet is better to maintain control of the parts but a gravity feed gun would work, just be messy!)
  • HVLP Mini Touch-Up Gravity fed gun or Small Airbrush: (HVLP will spray excess material since the spray is wider where as an air brush will spray less. Be careful using the airbrush method. If you spray with the PSI too high (40 PSI) the material will dry in the air and cause flat spots. Better to spray as wet as possible without causing the material to run.)
  • Small Hooks. To obviously hang your parts for spraying and drying.
  • Curing oven: I purchased a beat up old electric oven to cure and bake the parts. A small toaster oven could be used but you definitely want to make sure the parts can hang freely and not touch each other or the inside of the oven. Purchasing an old oven may not be an option for most, I have 220 in my garage so it wasn't a problem. Cerakote makes an air dry version but I'm not sure on how durable it is compared to the oven-cure coatings.
  • Blast Media: Cerakote recommends using 80-120 grit Aluminum Oxide to blast all the parts. Glass, crushed walnut and other blasting media isn't recommended due to pitting and smoothing out hard edges so Aluminum Oxide it is!
  • Measuring Container: I purchased the glass container Cerakote sells. It has the measurements on the side and since we aren't mixing large volumes paint mixing cups are too large. You may be able to find smaller cups at a Automotive Paint Supply Store locally.
  • Mixing Stick: I used a glass cocktail stirrer to mix the coating and hardner. Anything will really work, thin dowel, steel rod etc...
  • Material Dropper: Used to add/remove small amounts of coating from your mixing cup.
  • Paint Strainer: I opted for a disposable strainer since i can just toss it and not have to worry about clean-up. Obviously use the strainer to keep all contaminates out of the coating and to help keep your spray gun/air brush clean. If it gets clogged the coating will sputter out and cause undesirable results.
  • Acetone and Brake Cleaner: I used the brake cleaner to loosen any built up grease. Then the acetone bath to thoroughly remove any other contaminates.
  • Small Brass/Stainless brush: Use the brush to help with the removal of any contaminates.
  • Latex Gloves: Stay away from powdered gloves. Remember, no contamination!
  • Respirator or Mask: For obvious reasons! Working with hazardous materials are dangerous. Proper ventilation, gloves, eye protection can not be stressed enough! Thanks for reminding me!
  • Safety Glasses. You definitely do not want to get anything in your eyes!
  • Lastly, the Cerakote and Hardner: They sell the colors in Tester Size 4oz, Pint, Quart and Gallon. From what Cerakote says a 4oz Tester size can coat up to 3 complete firearms. Of course this all depends on how it's applied but a 4oz tester kit will be enough to coat a single firearm with no issues. The price is $35 for the 4oz tester kit.



I am not going to take pictures of all the equipment. I will however "borrow" some images from various places to show the items I used or could be used. I will take pictures of each step and the process as I go.

I am not going to explain the take down process or assembly. Every firearm is different and trying to explain the steps of a tear down would be another How-To all together!

Step 1: Preparation.

The most important part of refinishing anything is proper preparation. Cars, furniture and firearms. If the prep work is crap the final result will be crap!

With the firearm completely tore down it's important to keep track of all the parts. I used plastic Zip-Lock baggies to separate each part of my pistol. Slide parts, Hammer, Trigger all in separate bags. This will help you keep your parts organized and hopefully all in one place!

I am refinishing the slide, frame, hammer, trigger, magazine release, take-down lever and slide stop release.

First things first. Cleaning all the parts to be coated.
If your firearm has any imperfections like tiny gouges, nicks or marks you can use 600 grit sandpaper to "clean" the imperfections up. I do not recommend removing any material, just small nicks and imperfections and you will be ok and not jeopardize the reliability of the firearm. I used brake clean on all the parts I plan on refinishing. It's important to remove all oil, grease and other built up contaminants. Anything left will contaminate the coating as well as the blast media. Use a small wire brush, either stainless or brass to aid in removing any built up grease. Brake Cleaner is cheap and comes with a small spray tube to help blast the hard to reach areas. Use latex gloves and eye protection and make sure the area is well ventilated!

After cleaning with the brake cleaner I used my small hooks (bent pieces of copper wiring) to dip the parts into the acetone. Cerakote recommends a 15 acetone bath for all parts. You must use a solvent based cleaner. Solvent based cleaners will evaporate where as oil/water based cleaners will contaminate the surfaces.
Put enough acetone in a plastic or metal container, enough to submerge all the parts completely. I used plastic. 15 minutes of the plastic exposed to the acetone began to eat the plastic! I would suggest a metal container!

After all parts have soaked for 15 minutes in acetone let them air dry for 10 minutes or so. You don't want to put wet acetone soaked parts in a hot oven!
Bake the parts in an oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. The reason you bake the parts is to leach out all of the oils and acetone. If after 30 minutes the parts appear wet that means there are still contaminants on the parts. Re-soak in acetone to remove any leftover contaminants then re-bake for 30 minutes at 200 degrees. This is an important step. Some people would just opt to sand blast the parts and forgo this step but it is not advised!
Once your parts are clean, dry and cool, put them into CLEAN plastic baggies. Don't reuse the original baggies for obvious reasons!
Now the parts are ready to be blasted with your Aluminum Oxide 80-120 grit media.












Ready to be Blasted!



REMEMBER TO NOT TOUCH ANY PARTS AFTER THE ACETONE BATH. THE OILS ON YOUR SKIN WILL RE-CONTAMINATE THE PARTS. USE POWDER-FREE LATEX GLOVES TO HANDLE ALL PARTS FROM THIS POINT ON


At this point I decided to take my parts to a local shop to have them blasted. The cost for 50 lbs of Aluminum Oxide was around $50 plus shipping and the local shop is going to charge me $20 to do them all.

I will have the parts back in a day or so. in the meantime I am editing some photos for the steps above!



More to come shortly!

Last edited by bdlcom; 07-15-2013 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:51 PM   #2
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sounds like a lot of work
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:58 PM   #3
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you've lost me at sand blasting

sounds like fun. I just don't have a faith in all the steps including taking a gun apart
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Old 07-15-2013, 01:10 PM   #4
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After all that time and effort ....

Why don't you just pay someone to do it for you to save yourself the trouble?

Don't forget the 'Clean Air' Respirator! Cerakote and Duracoat both contain Isocyanates which are both corrosive to your lungs AND can cause irreversible and permanent nervous system damage.

Best leave it to the pros if you value your health. In HAZMAT training we learned that "If it smells BAD ... it's bad for you, and If it smells good ... it's REAAAALLLYY bad for you!"
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Old 07-15-2013, 01:23 PM   #5
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It would definitely be easy to just send it out but the satisfaction of doing yourself is much better. It wouldn't be a "project" if someone else does it for you! I enjoy taking on projects, consider this my "craft" experience!
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Old 07-15-2013, 01:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roostershooter View Post
After all that time and effort ....

Why don't you just pay someone to do it for you to save yourself the trouble?

Don't forget the 'Clean Air' Respirator! Cerakote and Duracoat both contain Isocyanates which are both corrosive to your lungs AND can cause irreversible and permanent nervous system damage.

Best leave it to the pros if you value your health. In HAZMAT training we learned that "If it smells BAD ... it's bad for you, and If it smells good ... it's REAAAALLLYY bad for you!"
I have painted cars, water base and solvent based. Also worked with a water-based glue with Isocyanide and completely understand the hazards. I do use a respirator, just forgot that part! Edited up top.
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Old 07-15-2013, 01:56 PM   #7
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Subscribed!
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Old 07-15-2013, 03:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Edsel View Post
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Agreed.

Always means a little more when you do something yourself.
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Old 07-16-2013, 06:33 AM   #9
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I will absolutely be following this thread! I understand it will be more work for you, but I am so inspired by your efforts! There is nothing more rewarding than a job well done (or sometimes, even just done) when you've taken the time to do it yourself. Very excited to see the end result.


Whisked to you by a cloud of fairy dust
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:33 AM   #10
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Quick Update:

FedEx just delivered my order from Cerakote. I ordered this stuff Tuesday evening, received it this afternoon! Pretty quick shipping.

I ordered a 6 color kit. it came with 6 colors of my choice, disposable filters, hardner as well as a cheap mini touch-up HVLP spray gun. I also ordered a 100ml glass mixing/measuring tube, eye droppers for more specific measurements, syringe and 1" heat resistant tape. The total came out to $217.00 delivered. I only chose the 6 color kit because I figured at $35 for a 4 oz one color kit I might as well get the 6 color and touch-up gun. Besides, WHEN i am successful I may do more of my firearms!

One thing to remember, get an inline regulator and water filter for the HVLP spray gun, keep the water off your parts!






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Old 07-18-2013, 10:36 AM   #11
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Fantastic post.
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:42 AM   #12
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Keep it going.


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Old 07-18-2013, 02:40 PM   #13
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I've been wanting to try this and now I might. Bump.

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Old 07-18-2013, 02:49 PM   #14
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Congrats. I have a guy I know in Atlanta that does this as a side job. He just got more training and is turning out some good stuff, including tiger stripes and various types of camo.

I should pull some of his pics for you guys to see. Good stuff, although I am not a fan of Cerakote.
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Old 07-18-2013, 05:14 PM   #15
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I did a P-6 a couple of months ago. Some suggestions to save time and headaches.
1. Inside the slide,do VERY lightly. Close tolerance especially where the barrel and guide rod go thru. I did not and would not do the fire linkage. If i did anything with them it would be polish the mate surfaces and stay away from the sear.

2, If there is a screw up, stop, heat the part up to dry it ,then reblast it. It is unforgiving.

3. For drying acetone brakekleen and other solvents I used a heat gun in liew of the oven. Used oven for final cure only.

If the gun won't cycle and the barrel hangs on the feed ramp,the coating is too thick. Reblast the slide and re do.I had no luck trying to sand out clearance. Good luck
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