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I'm sorry I offended LeFusil, but I meant to say that I prefer a higher contrast, either brown and white or black and white, and have had a hard time getting it from vendors. Also, I am sorry I offended LeFusil when I mentioned examples of makes of guns I have had a hard time getting a proper high contrast finish on. I would not object to brown as opposed to black, just looking for more contrast, as some posters also seem to want. I didn't mean to offend anyone, just clarifying what I am looking for. I don't understand LeFusil's snarky comment about checkbooks. Maybe he will clarify.

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Oh my man, you didn’t offend me in the slightest. Now, How was anybody supposed to discern or decipher what you were trying to say with your two post? About as vague and off topic as could be. You could help the rest of us out by being a bit more specific in what you’re trying to get across. Rambling post about guns were not talking about doesn’t help.
The checkbook thing....it’s an inside joke I suppose. A lot of guys who’ve been on here awhile, know how you like to tell everyone how close you are to writing a check for various this and that’s. We’ll see how long you go before you post something about writing a check again.

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As one who is not and never will be a gunsmith; and also as someone who's personal appeal is only towards the better makes of American guns (not disparaging English and European, just not my area of interest), I judge Damascus barrels by what my eyes tell me. Several years ago at the Southern Side x Side, a dealer had on display an O Grade Damascus barreled LC Smith that had survived in what appeared to be new condition. The gun was displayed near the outside wall of the tent and the barrels were so stunning they caught my attention from the center isle. The finish was black and white and the figure/pattern in those barrels jumped out at the viewer in amazingly wonderful detail. It was at that point I understood why a customer purchasing what would be considered a maker's "budget priced" gun would pay an additional $5-10 for a set of Damascus barrels; those barrels were absolutely beautiful, and it was the beauty of those barrels that called out "buy me" to the customer. According to "my eyes" I haven't seen a set of refurbed Damascus barrels finished/browned in the brown and white format that came remotely close to the look of that barrel set, nor have I seen a set of black and white finish refurbed barrels approaching the manner in which the pattern was revealed to the extent seen on the tubes on this Smith. Most refurbed Damascus barrels are finished to varying shades of brown; and some even have a coppery color closer to the shade of a penny, but neither high-light the iron/steel contrasts intended to be seen within the intricate Damascus patterns (and those with the coppery appearance look totally out of place to the rest of the gun finishes; and the appearance of many are hideous in my opinion). In most examples I've seen the refurbed brown and white modern finishes seem to have a good tone in that the color looks appropriate to the balance of the gun, but one has to look very close see and appreciate the Damascus pattern itself. I know my opinions are virtually worthless to all the "I've forgotten more than you'll ever know" kind of gunsmiths who dominate this forum; but why would a purchaser pay big bucks for a high-dollar set of intricately figured Damascus barrels unless he could actually see and appreciate the pattern? I understand that barrel finishes are prone to darken, or fade, and wear after a hundred plus years of being exposed to who know what, but I'm not convinced anyone today has discovered the correct formula or process necessary to duplicate what it was these old timers used to reveal and high-light the amazing Damascus patterns from decades ago.

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look up the work of Stevens and Johnson, third generation barrel browners who had the techniques passed down through the family. I do not think they had to discover the formula or the process as it was never lost to them.


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LeFusil, before you accuse me of rambling on about guns we are "not talking about", you should reread the entire first page of this thread. I think what I'm talking about is what the other posters are talking about. Have a nice day.

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Originally Posted by Replacement
Keith Kearcher in Oregon used to do brown/white. He's retired (I think), but Kody Kearcher may be able to do the finish.

I had C. Kearcher do 2 barrels and they came out an extreme mess. They have a purple hue and the damascus etching is barely visible. They were polished on a wheel and the engraving and name on the ribs have been worn down. Greatly disappointed when I specifically asked for an American black and white finish.


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I am posting this picture for Paul Stevens(barrel Browner), one set done by Paul, the other years earlier by his Grandfather.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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Originally Posted by SKB
I am posting this picture for Paul Stevens(barrel Browner), one set done by Paul, the other years earlier by his Grandfather.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Paul’s work is impeccable. If it wasn’t so expensive to send barrels over to have finished....I and many others would’ve sent him barrels years ago. I’ve thought about asking my friend who frequently flies back to England about taking a few sets over and dropping them off for Paul to finish up, but just haven’t gone over the logistics. Btw...Paul’s about as nice a guy as you’d ever want to meet or talk with. Had a few email chats with him over the years, always very polite and informative.

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They look OK Brother SKB; you can see the pattern in the pic if you look close, but all you'll see from 5' away is a brown blur. The black and white contrast of the Damascus pattern on the above referenced LC Smith was vivid and stunning at 20'. My comment is certainly not intended to disparage the Stephens family; their work is brilliant, and that may be the finish preferred by the English. But when I see a beautiful set of Damascus barrels I want to see enough contrast to reveal the pattern. I certainly don't see that here.

Last edited by topgun; 02/15/21 04:33 PM.
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Thanks for posting the picture Steve. These two barrels were done many years apart the one on the right is the older set and when you look at them in the flesh it has a plum tint to it, there is not much of a difference in the formulas used but my belief is the chemicals have changed a lot over the years especially in the last eight to ten years and this is part of the problem, formulas I used for blacking and browning for years no longer worked as well so I have had to experiment and adjust things, finishing barrels is a lot harder now than it was ten years ago, perhaps chemicals are too pure these days, some chemicals are no longer available, I have a recipe for black and white that I have never tried because I cannot get all the ingredients. Samuel Johnson my grandads father was working in Birmingham before moving to London, in 1925 his advertising leaflet offered etching, black, blue black, Brown and white, chocolate brown, and black and white. As for contrast you can play around with them to improve it but you can only pull up what is there, some barrels have a great pattern but poor contrast others the opposite sometimes a cheap old Belgium gun would have stunning Damascus with a cracking contrast. the metal also plays a part in the final colour, Dickson barrels come up one shade some Greener barrels another, I once saw some Damascus pistols my grandad had finished with the brown and white pattern, the lighter strip had a blue shimmer they were stunning sadly I have no idea how he did this. Sorry I don't think I have really answered any questions other than its getting harder to do this work. pictures of different shades can be seen here. https://www.facebook.com/StevensAndJohnson

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