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machine shop that will refinish an old, large cast iron pan?

turtl_girl Mar 26, 2010 10:09 PM

hi all - i have inherited a large, beautiful cast iron dutch oven that was poorly seasoned (sticky, rancid oil, bleah). i have cleaned it as far as elbow grease can take it, and want to take it to a machine shop where they will blast off the old seasoning with a brush on a drill so i can reseason it properly.

does anyone know of a place in the city where one can have this done? thank you!

  1. Zach Georgopoulos Mar 27, 2010 12:32 AM

    I've found that a dishwasher will blast off the old seasoning pretty well if you use a powder detergent. You need to re-season quickly, before it starts rusting. That said, most automotive machine shops will have a bead-blaster, and most machinists would be amused enough to blast your pan for free. Drive around SOMA and keep an eye on the automotive shop signs for machinists -- that's where most of them are, but I can't think of any specific shops off hand. Or do it the old school way and look in the yellow pages...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Zach Georgopoulos
      wolfe Mar 27, 2010 06:59 AM

      Star Trek "The Venus Pill"
      Well you're tasting some of it now. I couldn't scrape three layers of your leavings out of that pan.
      Why don't you hang your pan out in the wind and let the sand blast it clean, or hadn't you thought about that?
      Send them to Beijing?

      1. re: Zach Georgopoulos
        Jumbo_Jack May 5, 2010 10:49 PM

        Have you ever even worked in the trades or in a machine shop?

        We should honor labor, expertise, and investment in tools. Sending someone around to machine shops with the expectation of free work is at best pretentious. "hey sure, I'd love to use my thousands of dollars worth of equipment and years of expertise to fix your used pan for free"

        Also, bead blasting and sand blasting are very different procedures, and most machine shops do NOT bead blast. Bead blasting (spraying high velocity small glass particles) usually requires a special room, and you'll find it at auto body shops or powder coaters. Bead blasting would probably help though...

        Are you concerned about getting all the black off of the iron or something to make it 'clean'? If the surface is smooth, you can just heat the iron at 500-600 degrees to burn everything off. Then get to a hardware store, and buy a sheet of course and medium sandpaper. Just sand out the surface for 20 minutes, and you should be fine.

        There's just a VERY thin patina on a smooth cast iron pan. And cast iron is soft.

        And vintage cast iron is no better than a couple month old cast iron if treated right, and the pan bottoms are smooth. The only issue with newish pans is the cooking surface often still has the rough shape of the mold.

      2. bbqboy Mar 27, 2010 07:11 AM

        NO! Don't do that.
        Do this:

        1 Reply
        1. re: bbqboy
          turtl_girl Mar 27, 2010 08:59 AM

          i should add... not only is the seasoning bad but the surface is a little rough/pebbly for my tastes on the bottom of the pan and i would like to get this smoothed out as well. is beadblasting really the best option...? i had heard that a brush attached to a drill bit (or something along those lines) would do the trick nicely (which makes a question of finding someone who can/will do this for me).

        2. Robert Lauriston Mar 27, 2010 09:01 AM

          You might call K Doving.

          K Doving Co
          1171 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA

          1. c
            cakebaker Mar 27, 2010 09:46 AM

            I would caution you with sandblasting. That is the most severe and can also damage cast iron and is only for layers of rust. If you don't have that then in particular since it's an heirloom...a wire brush would be better but again for severe rust. You don't mention what you've tried cleaning it with. You can do much restoring with several grits of sandpaper (only for real rust and crud normally only fine grit but if it's really bad use varying grits) then steel wool..then seasoning and of course elbow grease.

            1. wolfe Mar 27, 2010 10:23 AM

              What about putting it in the oven during a long oven cleaning cycle? Has anyone done this? Is it harmful to cast iron?
              On second thought.

              3 Replies
              1. re: wolfe
                Rapini Mar 27, 2010 10:30 AM

                I haven't done it on the cleaning cycle, but seem to recall that putting a cast iron skillet or pan in a hot oven for a long time will burn off all the old "seasoning", and leave it ready for renewal. (I'm skeptical of the sandblasting idea).

                1. re: wolfe
                  cakebaker Mar 27, 2010 10:58 AM

                  That was interesting to read...in particular when one pan caught fire and the other fused foil to the bottom of the oven floor and melted the enamel! The other pans however looked great.

                  1. re: cakebaker
                    WCchopper May 3, 2010 10:46 PM

                    I have done the "self cleaning oven" method and it did take all of the old crud off very effectively and there was a substantial amount of crud to be dealt with. Turned it into gray ash. I hesitate to endorse the method as cast iron invokes such a passionate response on here on chowhound. It worked for me though.

                2. a
                  alpine925 May 3, 2010 02:49 PM

                  You can always post the job on contractauction.com. Machine shops will bid on the job from there. Its free.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: alpine925
                    powillie May 3, 2010 11:24 PM

                    I did a set of 4 vintage castiron skillets for my daughter. I put them in the oven on auto-clean and let it rip. Our house was smoked up so badly that I was worried that the neighbors would call the fire department. They came out reallty clean and ready for seasoning.. She uses them daily and truly loves them. When it comes to castiron, vintage is best.

                  2. c
                    celeryroot May 4, 2010 05:46 AM

                    I threw one into fire place an left it , came out great. Also, if no fp put on top of weber grill with
                    inside down on grill , close leaving vent holes open to maximize heat. Not only does t clean cast iron but also cleans off grill.

                    1. s
                      skwid May 4, 2010 09:15 AM

                      You can heat the cast iron very hot, but don't quickly cool it, that is what will cause the crack. Just turn off the oven and leave the pan inside for a few hours then you will be fine. If you have an old cast iron pan try Cast Iron Jack's methods, they were pretty well:


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