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Cast iron - off the wall question!

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AJB Temple

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I have four cast iron tables, all absolutely dead flat. They came from a foundry I think. They are 2 feet square, about 5" deep including the legs and the tops are at least an inch thick. It is a struggle for my wife and I to lift one of them. Seriously heavy. With appropriate painting (I have Wallace in mind) these could look very different and industrial.

I would like to incorporate them into my kitchen build. I have in mind pan stands close to the main hob. I may well go for quite an industrial look for this kitchen as I have a lot of reclaimed gear of high quality (conduit, switches, lights, sockets etc).

Do any of you guys who have engineering skills, know of any hard wearing finish I can apply to the top surface that will discourage or stop rust forming, but still allow the surface to be used?
 

Rorschach

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The graphite in it will likely stop anything sticking too well. Probably have to just wax them regularly.
 

Cheshirechappie

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From my experiences with cast iron it rusts ferociously at the slightest excuse, you'll have to slather it in paint, oil or grease to stop it. None of those entirely compatible with kitchen life!

Chefs do season cast iron pots and pans with (effectively) burnt-on vegetable oil. Might be worth a bit of experimentation, if you can find a test piece somewhere.
 

D_W

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Figuring that this may mean something like 500 degree pan bottoms (not desirable, but possible), I think your best option will be just to keep after them with very light oil.

There are various aluminum-based paints in the US here because our government banned chromium in brake discs (and now people are scrambling to figure out how to keep them from rusting fast), but they are toxic to apply and I doubt they're food safe once applied (and may not look neat).

It looks like there are commercial plating services that do chrome plating for ductile and gray cast, but they don't look like the kind of shadetree mechanic type places that would typically do bumpers and musical instrument parts.

I still think light oil or a very thin layer of hard wax is probably best, but no clue how the wax would react to a hot pan.
 

TheTiddles

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I’ve had several large cast iron pieces grit-blasted and clear coated in a 2-part finish. They aren’t getting really wet or exposed to anything beyond ambient heat but there’s no sign of rust on them after several years, I don’t know the paint used but it smells like polyester resin

Aidan
 

Richard_C

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Not sure this helps as they are too big for the cooker.

We have a really old cast iron steak pan, every few years it loses its finish and unstick-ness so what you do is give it a good scrub, dry, then wipe sunflower or rapeseed oil* all over it (inside and out and handle) and heat it to as high as the oven will go - 230 - hold for half an hour, cool, repeat and allow to fully cool in the switched off oven overnight. You end up with a black and mostly non stick pan which won't rust. Main thing then is not to use detergent to wash up, just hot water.

* olive oil smokes at a lower temperature and can leave ash.

Not sure how you could apply that to something as big or heavy but the oil/heat/cool method works a treat. Thinking aloud, maybe just a 2 or 3 coats of sunflower oil rubbed in and allowed to dry over a few days - you could try that on one at little cost or risk.
 

AJB Temple

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Thanks guys. I think I was hoping for magic 8)

I use cast iron and heavy steel a lot for cooking, but here I am looking for a polished surface. I think I will try polishing the surface of one, and lacquering it as a test. Waxing might work, but sounds high maintenance.
 

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Look into electroless nickel plating. It is a hard heat resistant surface and can be applied to cast iron.

Pete
 

wallace

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I presume the surfaces are machined or planed. I would sand to a really high grit and use a light oil.
I don't think they will rust that easily if their in the house.
 

Vann

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If it were me, I'd paint bottom and sides (probably with an engine enamel) then try BLO on the top surface. Camellia oil might work better, but probably won't last as long.
AJB Temple":2eketmzr said:
...but sounds high maintenance.
I think that goes with the territory, but at least cast iron rusts a lot less that steel.

Cheers, Vann.
 

AJB Temple

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Thanks Wallace and Vann. Yes the surfaces are finished dead flat. I think they will polish well. I can definitely enamel the bases. I have little to lose from doing a test on one so I will do that and post here for interest.

Now I need to source suitable primer and enamel paint.

I will try to get a picture tomorrow as I would like to know what they were for originally.
 

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AJB Temple":b2s0yyha said:
Thanks Wallace and Vann. Yes the surfaces are finished dead flat.........I will try to get a picture tomorrow as I would like to know what they were for originally.

I suspect they were surface plates used for layout and measuring by machinists. Your pictures will confirm my suspicions. If they are I'm sure the machinists on the forum would love to get one for their shops if the tops are in good condition.

Didn't like the Nickel plating eh. Though it would be cool to have it look like the shiny bits on an Aga.
Pete
 

MusicMan

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Inspector":171un56d said:
AJB Temple":171un56d said:
Thanks Wallace and Vann. Yes the surfaces are finished dead flat.........I will try to get a picture tomorrow as I would like to know what they were for originally.

I suspect they were surface plates used for layout and measuring by machinists. Your pictures will confirm my suspicions. If they are I'm sure the machinists on the forum would love to get one for their shops if the tops are in good condition.

Didn't like the Nickel plating eh. Though it would be cool to have it look like the shiny bits on an Aga.
Pete
Yes I agree. It is totally heretical to use them in a kitchen. Anyone trained in metrology will shudder at seeing hot pans put on them, as it destroys the flatness and takes months to truly recover. I don't allow even hot coffee cups on mine. Please sell them to a machinist and find something else for the kitchen! Unfortunately I have all I need and have no room for more! I'm sure TFrench of this forum would be interested!
 

AJB Temple

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Well, I am more than happy for anyone to make me an offer. They will have to collect them as I suspect postie would struggle. I can't lift one on my own.

I have four. I bought them at auction specifically to use them as industrial architectural talking pieces so I feel if I want to use them in a kitchen, or as a mobile coffee table on wheels, then I will !! :lol:

Once they were delivered and I realised how exceedingly heavy they are I did start to wonder. I do intend to keep one in my workshop as a reference surface and possibly sharpening station.

I will nip out to the store and take a snap.
 

D_W

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AJB Temple":171bygnh said:
Thanks Wallace and Vann. Yes the surfaces are finished dead flat. I think they will polish well. I can definitely enamel the bases. I have little to lose from doing a test on one so I will do that and post here for interest.

Now I need to source suitable primer and enamel paint.

I will try to get a picture tomorrow as I would like to know what they were for originally.
What does polish mean, like 600 grit finish?
 

AJB Temple

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Here is a picture. The surface rust is minimal as far as I can see. This is from overwintering. I will fish one out tomorrow (couldn't be bothered to shift the wine just now) and run a sander over it with some wet and dry.
 

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MusicMan

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Yes they are surface plates. Old cast iron too, so very stable. Will probably sell for around £150 once resurfaced but should get a decent price in current condition. You can point out to a prospective buyer that they should buy three, then using Whitworth's test for a plane (three surfaces all lap together), they could make three perfectly flat reference plates. They just have to be able to lift them and lap them together :)

Seriously, check out prices of 'cast iron surface plates' on eBay before you decide what to do with them. Best way to clean them without wrecking the flatness is with wire wool and WD40.
 
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