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  1. #1
    NES Member Golddiggie's Avatar
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    Default DIY home anodizing

    As some of you know, I've been working to anodize aluminum here at home. I've gone through a couple of configuration, and process, tweaks and have it working really well. I started off with looking to use sulfuric acid for the electrolyte. But after reading up about the hazards involved, I decided to not go that route. Instead I was able to use sodium bisulfate (info found here) for the electrolyte.

    I ended up using 3.5 gallon buckets (thanks Gator9329) for the etc, and dye tanks. A 5 gallon bucket is my anodizing tank due to getting a better cathode setup. For the water, I'm getting it from the filtration system under the sink (goes down to .2 micron) which is sent through a DI filter before being used. Couple that with an old Craftsman battery charger (from the early 80's) and I have a working system. You won't be able to use a newer battery charger due to the protection circuits inside them.

    Last night I re-anodized the lower for my 300 Blackout pistol. I had previously anodized it without any dye bath. It was ok initially, but after seeing more lowers, and what other people have done, I decided mine needed some color. So, after stripping the LPK out of it, giving it a quick cleaning and soak in denatured alcohol, I set it into the etch tank. That's a 2-4% solution of sodium hydroxide. After about 7-8 minutes in that tank, the previous anodizing was removed. Removed from that tank, rinsed with DI water, and then put it into the anodizing tank. Connected the battery charger up to the cathode and anode and set it to run. After about an hour the reactions had stopped, which means all that can be done has been done. Removed, rinsed again with DI water, and set to sit in the dye bath. I checked on it at 20 minutes, not the color I wanted, back into the pool. At ~45 it still needed some more. I started the sealing water to boil (had previously gotten it up to temp, then stopped when it became clear I would need more time in the dye bath). Checked after about an hour total and it was looking really good. Added the sealing solution to the boiling water, mixed fully and then placed the now dyed lower into the pot (after rinsing the lower with more DI water). Let it boil for 20 minutes, removed, rinsed with more DI water and then set to dry overnight.

    Result:
    re-anodized_300_blackout_pistol_lower_1.jpg

    300 Blackout pistol before Saturday night:
    300_Blackout_pistol_completed.jpg

    300 Blackout pistol this morning after anodizing/dyeing last night:
    300_Blackout_pistol_completed_final.jpg

    Since the first picture I had also wrapped the pistol buffer tube with paracord. Just to act as padding between the metal tube and me when doing a cheek weld (easier for me than putting to my shoulder).

    Technically you can dye the aluminum any color you can mix up. You can get dye from Caswell if you want, or use Rit dye from the fabric store.

    I did reserve the sealing solution this time. I have a good amount of what you add to the water, but figured why not save it. I should be able to get at least a few more lowers out of the same batch. I have found that stripping anodizing off of parts fouls the NaOH solution pretty fast. But, it's easy to mix up more. If you mix it on the stronger side, put it near a fresh air source and put a loose lid over that bucket. The part will turn a dark grey when the NaOH has done it's job.
    Quote Originally Posted by hillman
    I was up all night because my wife was coughing, puking, sneezing, wheezing, whining, crying...and it didn't have anything to do with sex this time!
    Quote Originally Posted by frenchman View Post
    Not Dick, that's short for Richard. My name is Jean-Luc. My girlfriend called me "oh, my god" last night, even tho she doesn't have to call me by my job title. When my boss sees me, he usually says "Jesus Christ", but that's not right either.
    Why are they called 'Mad Scientists' when they always seem so happy??


  2. #2
    NES Member radioman's Avatar
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    Default

    I thought I'd throw my AR into this thread. I anodized the lower at Goldiggie's house under his excellent tutelage. Every lower he does he gets better. I like mine just fine and I think it's great for a first time 80% lower. The color is just as good as many retail units. If you look super close you can see imperfections but this is a 100% home job.

    1. 80% Lower 100% machined at my house by me, anodized and colored by me at Goldiggie's house.
    2. Ice Arms Nitride coated 14.7 in barrel with welded and pinned muzzle device for a total barrel length of 17 inches. The compensator was 100% manufactured at my house by me. Pinned and welded by me at my house.
    3. Ace stock
    4. MagPul fore grip
    5.EcoTech sight
    6. Zero Fail Nitride coated bolt group

    DSC_4196.JPGDSC_4196-001.JPG

    Here are a few more photos of the comp and the lower. These photos cover no sins so you can see both items as they are.

    DSC_4212.JPGDSC_4214.JPGDSC_4223.JPGDSC_4213.JPGDSC_4203.JPGDSC_4224.JPGDSC_4204.JPGDSC_4222.JPG
    Last edited by radioman; 12-22-2013 at 01:55 PM.
    ...That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government... ...it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

  3. #3
    NES Member Golddiggie's Avatar
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    I'm going to have to mix up a batch of grey dye now...
    Quote Originally Posted by hillman
    I was up all night because my wife was coughing, puking, sneezing, wheezing, whining, crying...and it didn't have anything to do with sex this time!
    Quote Originally Posted by frenchman View Post
    Not Dick, that's short for Richard. My name is Jean-Luc. My girlfriend called me "oh, my god" last night, even tho she doesn't have to call me by my job title. When my boss sees me, he usually says "Jesus Christ", but that's not right either.
    Why are they called 'Mad Scientists' when they always seem so happy??


  4. #4
    NES Member cyberlogicx's Avatar
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    Just a curiosity, how much did your setup cost? I've seen small-scale kits for about $500 on the interwebs.
    Don't Keep Calm.

  5. #5
    NES Member Golddiggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberlogicx View Post
    Just a curiosity, how much did your setup cost? I've seen small-scale kits for about $500 on the interwebs.
    Far less than that... I have 4-5 plastic buckets (3.5 and 5 gallon), old battery charger (you could get a 12v power supply, minimum would be 2A out), cathode made from plates I got from another NES member (check scrapyards in your area for some 6061 stock). The chemicals (sodium hydroxide and sodium bisulfate) are pretty cheap (Amazon has both). You'll also need to either use distilled, or deionized, water for everything. All the rinsing, the solutions, etc. Distilled is ok, but I think DI is better.

    I could try sourcing the items out for you, if you want a list. Biggest issue with the power supply is you don't want one with the protection items in it. It will think the anodizing tank setup is a short/fault and kill the power to it.

    If anyone wants to come over and see the setup, and how it works, shoot me a PM...

    BTW, the ONLY point where you need to add any heat is the sealing boil. So the kits you see with all these heating elements are more items than you'll use.
    Quote Originally Posted by hillman
    I was up all night because my wife was coughing, puking, sneezing, wheezing, whining, crying...and it didn't have anything to do with sex this time!
    Quote Originally Posted by frenchman View Post
    Not Dick, that's short for Richard. My name is Jean-Luc. My girlfriend called me "oh, my god" last night, even tho she doesn't have to call me by my job title. When my boss sees me, he usually says "Jesus Christ", but that's not right either.
    Why are they called 'Mad Scientists' when they always seem so happy??


  6. #6
    NES Member cyberlogicx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
    Far less than that... I have 4-5 plastic buckets (3.5 and 5 gallon), old battery charger (you could get a 12v power supply, minimum would be 2A out), cathode made from plates I got from another NES member (check scrapyards in your area for some 6061 stock). The chemicals (sodium hydroxide and sodium bisulfate) are pretty cheap (Amazon has both). You'll also need to either use distilled, or deionized, water for everything. All the rinsing, the solutions, etc. Distilled is ok, but I think DI is better.

    I could try sourcing the items out for you, if you want a list. Biggest issue with the power supply is you don't want one with the protection items in it. It will think the anodizing tank setup is a short/fault and kill the power to it.

    If anyone wants to come over and see the setup, and how it works, shoot me a PM...

    BTW, the ONLY point where you need to add any heat is the sealing boil. So the kits you see with all these heating elements are more items than you'll use.
    I could totally do that, because I've had dreams of a purple AR pistol and I'm not spending $500 on a matched upper and lower!
    Don't Keep Calm.

  7. #7
    NES Member Golddiggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberlogicx View Post
    I could totally do that, because I've had dreams of a purple AR pistol and I'm not spending $500 on a matched upper and lower!
    If you get the dye, we can just do it here. Depending on the handguard, that might be more tricky. I'd need to mix up more solution if we hang it vertically.

    At least you don't want to do pink... Or put rhinestones on it.
    Quote Originally Posted by hillman
    I was up all night because my wife was coughing, puking, sneezing, wheezing, whining, crying...and it didn't have anything to do with sex this time!
    Quote Originally Posted by frenchman View Post
    Not Dick, that's short for Richard. My name is Jean-Luc. My girlfriend called me "oh, my god" last night, even tho she doesn't have to call me by my job title. When my boss sees me, he usually says "Jesus Christ", but that's not right either.
    Why are they called 'Mad Scientists' when they always seem so happy??


  8. #8
    NES Member cyberlogicx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
    If you get the dye, we can just do it here. Depending on the handguard, that might be more tricky. I'd need to mix up more solution if we hang it vertically.

    At least you don't want to do pink... Or put rhinestones on it.
    Hell, even my wife won't do pink! And I'd only be doing a stripped upper/lower.
    Don't Keep Calm.

  9. #9
    NES Member Golddiggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberlogicx View Post
    Hell, even my wife won't do pink! And I'd only be doing a stripped upper/lower.
    That we can do in the setup as it sits. Are these raw or already anodized items??
    Quote Originally Posted by hillman
    I was up all night because my wife was coughing, puking, sneezing, wheezing, whining, crying...and it didn't have anything to do with sex this time!
    Quote Originally Posted by frenchman View Post
    Not Dick, that's short for Richard. My name is Jean-Luc. My girlfriend called me "oh, my god" last night, even tho she doesn't have to call me by my job title. When my boss sees me, he usually says "Jesus Christ", but that's not right either.
    Why are they called 'Mad Scientists' when they always seem so happy??


  10. #10
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    This is really cool. I've always dreamed of doing it myself. Props for figuring it out on your own!

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