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I'm building a book shelf using 1.5" angle iron made from hot rolled steel as the frame. It's my understanding that this steel will rust even if left indoors. While I like the raw, industrial look of the mill scale, I would like to prevent the frame from rusting overtime without giving the metal a glossy appearance. Looking at different ways to seal metal, it seems like there are two options; hot methods and cold methods.

Hot methods include rubbing/painting on different oils then heating the metal to the point that the oil polymerizes. Here is a great example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIG6tQI73_Y. This is beyond my abilities and shop setup, beside it seems a bit egregious to use that much energy for my situation. So, I'm interested in cold methods (i.e. no heating involved).

The best method I've come across so far is apply multiple coats Penetrol (a flow control additive to help paint dry more evenly) which builds up a glossy layer of protection, then go over this with a single layer of oil-based matte polyurethane. I don't mind doing this, but I wonder what other methods could work? Would I be able to just rub the metal down with boiled lineseed oil and give it a few days to cure?

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    Is it not as simple as spraying on some clear matte spray paint? – JPhi1618 May 6 at 15:24
  • Perhaps it is. Maybe this isn't true but I feel like something that is applied by physical contact (rubbing/painting) will work better but I have no data to back this up. Pure gut feeling. – Austin A May 6 at 15:49
  • I'm not saying you're wrong - just asking if the spray was considered. My personal favorite on metal is a wax product like clear Briwax, but that will leave it varying degrees of glossy. – JPhi1618 May 6 at 15:51
  • Yea, I'm definitely not against waxes. This article covers how to apply Butcher's Wax to steel, but it involves some light heating :/. I'll check out Briwax. – Austin A May 6 at 16:05
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    I used rustoleum clear acrylic on a modified (sanded) steel computer case in 2001, and it's still has no rust, except on a few spots i didn't/couldn't cover. no yellowing either, looks brand new. – dandavis May 6 at 20:48

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